Copy of 611624-01-02-1629885179799
An Algeria man holds today's newspaper in the capital Algiers, on August 25, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Rabat: Morocco’s foreign ministry said early Wednesday that the country “regrets” the “completely unjustified” decision of neighbouring Algeria to break off diplomatic relations.

Algeria formally announced the decision on Tuesday, citing a series of alleged hostile acts.

The move was “expected ... in view of the logic of escalation observed in recent weeks,” Morocco’s foreign ministry said in a statement released overnight.

“Morocco categorically rejects the fallacious, even absurd, pretexts underlying it,” it said.

The move culminates a period of growing tension between the North African countries, which are mired in a decades-long feud, with their borders closed to each other.

The Algerian foreign minister notably denounced “massive and systematic acts of espionage” by Morocco, a reference to allegations that the kingdom’s security services used Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against its officials and citizens, the official APS news agency reported. Morocco adamantly denies such claims.

Other criticism ranged from reported remarks by Morocco’s UN ambassador in mid-July to recent comments by Israel’s foreign minister on an historic visit to Morocco as part of both countries’ normalisation of ties.

Morocco and Algeria are allies of Western nations, and the move risked complicating diplomacy in the region. Both are important in the fight against extremism in the nearby Sahel region.