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  • Kheireddine Saidi

Arab Maghreb Union

There is no difference that the countries of the Arab Maghreb, i.e. (Libya-Tunisia-Algeria-Morocco-Mauritania) constitute one homogeneous bloc, ethnically, linguistically, religiously, and even geographically, as these countries occupy a large geographical area in North Africa that is bordered to the east by Egypt and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. To the north is the Mediterranean Sea and to the south is the Sahara Desert. Its area is more than 5,872,000 km, while the population of these countries is approximately 104 million. It is divided as follows:


So that there is no difference between the ethnic, racial, and even linguistic components prevailing in these countries. This led to a consistent feeling among the population of these countries of the integration between these countries, and this feeling was strengthened by the common history between the aforementioned countries on the one hand, and on the other hand the need for a common future for the region.



The first signs of union between the aforementioned countries of the Maghreb appeared through the political activity of the national movements that emerged in these countries at the beginning of the twentieth century, especially with the North African Star Party, which appeared in France to defend the interests of the workers of the Maghreb countries in France, and then developed into a political party that seeks To obtain the independence of the Maghreb countries from France within the framework of unity between the three countries (Tunisia-Algeria-Morocco).

The common feeling was consolidated at the political and popular level among the inhabitants of the region after the outbreak of the liberation revolution in Tunisia, Morocco, and then Algeria in the year (1954 AD), when the revolutionary movements in these countries agreed on joint action, and their political statement emphasized the unity of the Maghreb. The three countries provided each other with political and material support for the success of their liberation from French colonialism. Which succeeded in restoring these countries to their sovereignty over the country and removing the French colonizer from the country completely with the independence of its last country, Algeria, in 1962.



However, the political unity that the people in the region aspired to was not achieved as it was decreed for them. Rather, war confrontations took place between Algeria and Morocco in 1962 immediately after the French forces left Algeria, and this is because Morocco seized some of the lands that belong to Algeria by virtue of the fact that these lands belonged to Morocco before the French occupation of Algeria in 1830. This was rejected by Algeria and led to war confrontations between the two countries known as the Sand War, which ended with the commitment of both sides to respect the borders inherited from colonialism as approved by international laws. However, the impact of this confrontation was reflected in all future hopes for political unity among the countries of the region.

The situation was exacerbated by the directions chosen by these countries. The two largest countries in the region, Algeria and Morocco, chose two completely different political models. At a time when Morocco chose the trend towards adopting a system that does not clash with Western powers, the Algerian regime tended to adopt a socialist system opposed to capitalism and Western powers. The regime in Algeria also adopted Arab nationalism and the (totalitarian) republican system, which Morocco saw as not serving much of its vision in the region, as He tended to adopt the monarchy as an extension of his ancient history.


Algerian President Houari Boumediene


Moroccan King Hassan II

The matter did not stop here, as the withdrawal of the Spanish forces from Western Sahara in the year (1975) led to the renewal of the conflict between Morocco and Algeria. Continuous diplomatic tensions between the two countries until now, and at some stages led to the severing of diplomatic relations between the two countries more than once[1].

Second: The idea of establishing the Arab Maghreb Union

What we mentioned did not prevent the emergence of a need among the countries of the region to create a political and economic bloc whose purpose is to unify efforts to advance relations between the countries of the region on the one hand, and on the other hand, to try to benefit from the economic capabilities and human resources of the countries of the region.

Where an attempt was made to overcome the differences between Algeria and Morocco through the initial agreement between the five North African countries: Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, at the Algiers meeting on June 10, 1988, to lay the foundation for the establishment of a Maghreb union that includes the five countries, and it was decided to establish a mixed committee for this purpose, and it was The first meeting of this committee in Algeria on 07/17/1988[2]. The Mixed Committee succeeded in finding common ground, and on February 17, 1989, in the city of Marrakesh, the announcement of the establishment of the first Maghreb Union that includes the five countries: Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania[3].


The heads of the Arab Maghreb countries who announced the establishment of the Arab Maghreb Union

Pictured from right to left:

Libyan President: Muammar Gaddafi, Mauritanian President: Muawiya Ould Sidi Ahmed Taya. Algerian President: Chadli Benjedid. Moroccan King Hassan II, Tunisian President: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


The meeting identified a number of points to activate a common policy based on:

1. A common policy approach in various fields

2. Work to achieve the freedom of movement of people, services, goods and capital between member states.

3. Strengthening fraternal bonds among Member States to achieve progress and prosperity.

The main purpose of adopting this joint policy, according to what was stated in the Marrakesh Treaty in 1989, is the following:

First: Achieving reconciliation among member states and establishing close diplomatic cooperation between them based on dialogue.

Second: Maintaining the independence of each of the member states.

Third: Achieving industrial, agricultural, commercial, and social development for the Member States and taking the necessary means to this end, especially by establishing joint projects and preparing general and specific programs in this regard.

Fourth: Establishing cooperation aimed at developing education at all levels and preserving the spiritual values derived from the tolerant teachings of Islam. Preserving the Arab national identity and taking the necessary means to achieve these goals.

Third: Institutions of the Arab Maghreb Union

In order for the Arab Maghreb Union to achieve its objectives, the five member states have agreed to establish a number of bodies whose main objective is the success of the process of running this union:

1. The Presidency Council: It consists of the heads of the member states and is the highest body in the Union. The presidency of the council is for a period of one year, rotating between the heads of the member states. It holds its regular sessions every year and has the right to hold extraordinary sessions whenever the need arises. The Presidency Council alone has decision-making power and its decisions are issued unanimously by its members[4].

2. The Council of Foreign Ministers: It consists of the ministers and the secretary of the People's Committee in charge of foreign affairs in the countries of the union. The Council of Foreign Ministers holds regular sessions. It may also hold extraordinary sessions at the invitation of the Presidency or at the request of one of the members. The meeting is not valid unless all members are present. And he assumes:

• Preparation for Presidency Council sessions.

• Considering the proposals of the follow-up committee and specialized ministerial committees, and coordinating policies and positions in regional and international organizations.

• Studying all issues assigned by the Presidency Council.

3. Follow-up Committee: It consists of the members, each of whom has been appointed to his country’s cabinet to follow up on the affairs of the Union. The committee follows up on the union's issues in a complementary manner with the general secretariat and the specialized ministerial committees in order to avoid them.

• The committee presents the results of its work to the Council of Foreign Ministers.

• The committee works in cooperation with the General Secretariat to develop the work of the various bodies and give dynamism to the work of the federation.

• The committee holds periodic meetings with the General Secretariat to assess progress, identify obstacles and propose appropriate solutions.

4. General Secretariat: Its headquarters are in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. It consists of a Secretary-General appointed by the Presidency Council for a period of three years, renewable once, and a sufficient number of employees from among the citizens of the Union on the basis of competence and loyalty to the goals of the Union and fair distribution among the member states. The General Secretariat performs the following basic tasks:

• Work to implement the decisions of the Presidency Council in coordination with all the union's organs.

• Contribute to the preparation of executive plans for the Federation's work program in cooperation with the Follow-up Committee.

• Preparing research and studies, providing information and documents, and expressing a specialized opinions with the help of Maghreb competencies.

• Preparing periodic reports on the progress in building the union.

• Preserving the documents of the Presidency, the Council of Foreign Ministers, the Follow-up Committee, the specialized ministerial committees, the Shura Council, the Judiciary, and every official document of the Union, including documents ratifying the collective agreements concluded within the framework of the Union.

• Work on coordination between the federal agencies specialized in the fields of information and documentation.

• Linking the link with the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States to identify areas of cooperation in order to enhance joint Arab action, and cooperate with similar African groups and other international groups and organizations, in coordination with the organs of the Union.

Fourthly: Problems Hindering The Success Of The Maghreb Union

There are many problems that stand in the way of achieving the economic and political unity of the countries of North Africa within the institution of the Arab Maghreb Union, but we can say that the main problem is the permanent conflict between Morocco and Algeria regarding various issues, the most important of which is the issue of Western Sahara, and we can also say that not overcoming this problem will remain the institutions of the Union of Morocco Arabic are words within the papers forums only. Also, Morocco's involvement in a strong process of normalization with the Israeli occupation in order to establish its right to Western Sahara makes the possibility of reconciliation with Algeria now impossible, as Algeria stands on the side of rejecting any normalization with the Israeli occupation and rejects it categorically.

Therefore, we can say that the only hope for seeing an actual unity of the countries of the Arab Maghreb is linked to the ability of Algeria and Morocco to overcome their differences regarding the Sahrawi issue or at least try to overcome them circumstantially in order to reach long-term consensuses that contribute to activating the institutions of the Arab Maghreb Union.

Conclusion:

The differences between the political regimes in the Arab Maghreb, and specifically between Algeria and Morocco, still stand in the way of any development of the work of the Maghreb Union and make it a mere institution without a soul. and economical one. For this we can say:

That the institution of the "Arab Maghreb Union" actually exists in the conscience of the people of the Maghreb, just as it is present in reality in their history and their common struggle.

The people of the region have succeeded in living the dream of the common Maghreb region, but the political regimes in these countries are still unable to achieve this unity and turn it into a successful economic project to achieve prosperity and a decent life for the people of the region.

[1] KHEİREDDİNE SAİDİ, “Cezayir ile Fas arasındaki diplomatik krizlerde yeni bir sayfa”https://afam.org.tr/cezayir-ile-fas-arasindaki-diplomatik-krizlerde-yeni-bir-sayfa/ . [2]See: Zeralda Statement: 10/06/1988. http://maghrebarabe.org/%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%A9/ [3]See: “The Arab Maghreb Union, the deferred dream,” Al-Jazeera Net, seen on: 12/20/2022. https://www.aljazeera.net/encyclopedia/2015/5/28/ [4]See: Arab Maghreb Union website. https://maghrebarabe.org/

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