Morocco has established a new military zone bordering Algeria, a Moroccan military publication said Monday, amid mounting tensions between the two North African countries.
The establishment of the new zone redefines Morocco’s military borders, introducing a new eastern military zone alongside the previously designated northern and southern military zones.
Algeria borders Morocco to the latter’s east and south.
The Moroccan armed forces’ magazine said in its latest edition on Monday that the creation of the new zone dates back as early as January 5, when its command was handed over to Major General Mohammed Miqdad during a ceremony.
The zone was created to allow for “more flexibility and freedom for necessary action in the accomplishment of different missions”, the magazine said.
After months of mounting tensions, Algeria cut diplomatic ties with Morocco in August, citing “hostile actions” — a charge Rabat has denied.
Rabat and Algiers are at loggerheads over the Western Sahara, as well as Morocco’s normalisation deal with Israel in late 2020.
Algeria backs the Polisario Front movement in the Western Sahara, which fought a war of independence with Rabat from 1975 until a ceasefire deal in 1991.
Morocco views the former Spanish colony, with access to lucrative phosphate resources and rich Atlantic fisheries, as part of its sovereign territory.
The Polisario had in late 2020 declared the 1991 truce deal null and void, following the Moroccan military’s forcible reopening of a highway in the territory leading to neighbouring Mauritania.
The movement has since engaged in what it calls “a war of legitimate defence”, publishing regular updates on its operations.
Earlier in February, the Polisario Front said it had killed 12 Moroccan soldiers since the start of the month, as part of its struggle for independence.
Morocco rarely responds to Polisario Front claims.