Algeria says it was 'targeted' by Gantz's visit to Morocco | MCU Times

Algeria says it was ‘targeted’ by Gantz’s visit to Morocco

An Algerian top official said On Thursday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to neighboring Morocco, with which Algiers has severed diplomatic relations, “targeted” his country.

Gantz’s trip to Morocco this week comes amid tensions between Rabat and Algiers, who are involved in a battle over the disputed Western Sahara.

“The enemies are mobilizing more and more to undermine Algeria,” which was “targeted” by the visit, said Senate President Salah Goudjil.

Goudjil is the highest official in Algeria after the president. He made the remarks a day after Gantz and Morocco’s defense minister, Abdellatif Loudiyi, signed a landmark security deal in Rabat.

The agreement would make it easier for Rabat to acquire high-tech exports from Israel and is the latest step between the two countries that normalized ties last year.

Israel has several security agreements with allied nations, but the Morocco agreement marks the first of its kind agreement with a majority-Arab nation, an Israeli official has said, on condition of anonymity.

According to Gantz’s office, the defense pact and the renewed ties are also expected to allow large arms deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years, although defense officials stress that this is not Israel’s primary focus.

A senior Israeli defense officer denied reports in Israeli media that the two countries had already signed such arms sales. While Morocco has expressed interest in a number of Israeli systems – notably the Barak 8 missile defense system, drones from the Israeli aerospace industry, Elbit radar systems and more – these agreements are only in their early stages and have not received the necessary permits.

‘There will be projects and sales, but the Minister of Defense did not approve and did not sign any agreement during his stay. All the major sales that have been discussed must go through an approval and signature process. But I’m optimistic that’s coming. “Moroccans have many challenges in defending their borders, against missiles and in the area with drones, and we want to help them fight terrorism,” the official said on Thursday.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right) shakes hands with his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Loudiyi after signing a memorandum of understanding between the two countries at the Moroccan Ministry of Defense in Rabat on 24 November 2021. (Ministry of Defense)

Morocco controls most of Western Sahara and considers the former Spanish colony to be part of its sovereign territory. Algeria supports Western Sahara’s independence movement Polisario Front.

Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco in August, citing “hostile actions” – an accusation rejected by Rabat – and Morocco’s recent rapprochement with Israel.

In the announcement of the move, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra also condemned “massive and systematic espionage actions” by Morocco, a reference to allegations that the kingdom’s security services used Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli NSO group against its officials and citizens, the official. APS news agency reported at the time. Morocco vehemently rejects such claims.

Earlier this month, Algiers accused Rabat of killing three Algerian civilians on a desert highway through the Polisario-controlled area of ​​Western Sahara in an attack on their trucks, raising fears of an escalation.

Polisario chief Brahim Ghali said last week that the movement had decided to step up military operations.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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