Maghreb without Morocco: After Mauritania, Libya says “Niet” and shatters Tebboune’s dream


A “new look” Maghreb Union that would marginalize Morocco.… The noise is constant enough for us to listen to it. And when it is peddled and carried by the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Attaf, it earns credibility. Algiers witnesses in this new version of the Arab Maghreb a way to finally move forward and “fill the void” left by the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), which has solely existed on paper since 1989. But here, Mauritania, according to local media, closed the door to the suggestion of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Too bad, Algiers is ready to take the plunge without Nouakchott, just with Tunisia and Libya. Except that the latter also rears up and declines to board the Tebboune train.

The head of Algerian diplomacy stated it loud enough last Tuesday – during a press conference – for the message to reach the ears of the Libyan authorities. We do not know what the government of national unity, founded in Tripoli and recognized by the international community, will say. But for the rival government in the East, it is No. His Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulhadi Lahouij, apparently said this to the Moroccan newspaper Hespress. And it is challenging to see how to push the blockade of the allies of the powerful Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

“The Maghreb region does not require to creation of new entities, because we have existing institutions on the continent, we only need to activate and enhance them (…). Libya, which currently chairs the AMU, attached to this option and wishes to strengthen and promote cooperation between the Maghreb nations, whose volume of trade remains low compared to other regional blocs,” declared Lahouij…

“We reside in a single Maghreb space, and what we need today is to reinforce Maghreb collaboration in the interest of the people of the region, its youth and its women, and in the interest of integration and cooperation,” he insisted.

Lahouij believes that we should rather concentrate on the consolidation of the AMU establishments instead of embarking on another adventure. He insisted on the all-around regional framework to meet the aspirations of all the Maghreb populations, weighed down by various obstacles. He wants to speak about the animosity between Algeria and Morocco, for decades, with closed borders and diplomatic relations completely dead since…

In any case, an official source from the High Council of the Libyan State has shut the debate on the Maghreb that Algiers dreams of. She conveyed to the Moroccan newspaper that the political situation in Libya makes any long-term deal with any other country impossible. With two governments and two Parliaments colliding, how can the Presidential Council talk on behalf of all Libyans? How can he build a project as titanic and Kafkaesque as a Union without Morocco and Mauritania?

The same source added that the only conventions that the Libyan Presidential Council can sign with neighbouring countries are restricted to very specific subjects. This essentially involves the partnership against terrorism, the exchange of information, actions against irregular immigration and the securing of Libyan borders with these countries…

“Any agreement or coordination of the Presidential Council with Tunisia or Algeria cannot transcend this framework, and cannot go beyond to include the Maghreb region as a whole or encroach on the rights of the Maghreb countries. The current Council certainly does not desire to put itself in a position of confrontation with any Maghreb country, especially when the region today needs to intensify its efforts within the framework of a unified project which guarantees security and stability,” insists the same source.

In other words, in the current state of affairs in neighbouring Libya, with the prevailing political and security chaos, the new Maghreb project lent to Tebboune will remain there, and obviously for a long time.

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