A declassified CIA document about Morocco’s borders in the eastern Sahara has confirmed the Moroccan character of territories now considered Algerian.
The document declassified by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2004, and revealed by The North Africa Post, indicated that Moroccan sovereignty extended from Hassi Beida (Bechar province) to the town of Tinjoub (south of Mhamid Ghizlane).
It also indicates the responsibility of France in the drawing of the borders and the annexed territories that do not belong to Algeria, the source of the territorial dispute between Morocco and Algeria.
The document explains that the French administration in Morocco and Algeria had repeatedly redefined the administrative line separating Morocco from French Algerian jurisdiction and that it had favored Algeria, which was legally part of France.
The CIA, which recognizes de facto through this document the Moroccan sovereignty over the Eastern Sahara, “reinforces the legal position and historical rights of Morocco for the liberation of the last Saharan territories illegally annexed during French Algeria to the detriment of Morocco,” says for its part The North Africa Post.
The declassified U.S. official document traces key dates in the Moroccan-Algerian conflict, such as the 1963 Sand War, and explains that the southern Saharan section of the Moroccan-Algerian border from Figuig to the Sahara has never been delimited.
U.S. intelligence also points out that since Morocco’s independence in 1956, the question of recovering Moroccan lands annexed by France in Algeria has been raised.
After gaining independence in 1956, the Moroccans raised the issue of recovering their Saharan territories annexed at the time of French Algeria, the U.S. intelligence memo adds.
In 1958, when Algerian rebels were operating in the Saharan zone, France and Morocco “informally agreed” on respective operational zones to avoid clashes between their forces, but France extended the occupation north and west of the previous lines, and the new line was given no legal status, the CIA document points out.
“This line, however, was adopted by the Algerians. The Moroccans insist that the real border is an earlier line, which places the posts of Hassi Beida and Tinjoub in Morocco. These posts are important because they are on the main caravan route between Colomb-Béchar and Tindouf,” the U.S. document reveals.
The CIA memo also cites a 1961 agreement between the late King Hassan II and Ferhat Abbas, then prime minister of the Algerian provisional government, to recover the Moroccan eastern Sahara once Algeria became independent, but Algerian leaders overthrew Abbas and refused to return the Moroccan eastern Saharan lands.