Rabat – Political parties from Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia have expressed their desire to work together toward peace and socio-economic integration in the region, ending decades of cold relations and political rivalry.
In a joint statement published on January 8, Algeria, Algeria’s Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) announced their intention, along with leftist political formations from Tunisia and Libya, of “resurrecting” the United Maghreb dream.
The statement put forward theses of common socio-economic challenges, shared history and culture, as well as the “historical responsibility” of working together to promote peace and stability for the whole region.
The statement, pioneered by Algeria’s RCD, called on “Moroccan friends,” especially the leftist Party of Socialism and Progress (PPS), and spoke of a conference to be organized in Morocco in late January to debate the fundamentals of the prospective “resurrection” of the unified Maghreb platform.
“We have formed a political coalition while waiting to expand our reach to other political associations,” read the note. It invited “Moroccan political forces” to attend the late January meeting. “We think that your presence at the meeting will be an opportunity to foster cooperation and impulse a new dynamic [for the region].”
The idea of a unified Maghreb emerged in Tangier in 1958 in the early years of independence for some, Tunisia and Morocco, and independence struggle, for Algeria, which obtained its sovereignty from France only in 1962. The pan-Magrhebi ideal was to draw on cultural similarities and social bonds across the region to build a common political future.
But emerging political challenges in the first decades of independence quickly dissipated pan-Maghrebi sentiments, with national interests and questions of national identity scrapping the regional dream.
The political divorce was especially accentuated in the late 1970s through the 1990s, with the rift between Algiers and Rabat on the Western Sahara question and other security and border-line disputes. The 1994 closed-border policy between the two neighbors was the last straw, burying prospects of a unified Maghreb.
Despite the region’s conflict-riddled history and current crises, however, the group is confident that leaders can find common ground to ease diplomatic cooperation and gradually become politically and economically integrated.
After decades of “costly” and “ineffective” hostilities, they argued, it is time to “rise above political and economic fragmentations that have kept the North-African sub-continent in a state of immobility.”
Their statement added, “The geography as well as the historical and civilizational links between the peoples of North of Africa compel economic, political, and cultural cooperation for the benefit of the whole region.”