New reports from Morocco World News show Algerian officials are greenlighting construction of a wall along the nation's border with Morocco, just days after Morocco announced its intention to launch its first surveillance satellite.
While the officially stated purpose of the wall is to control drug trafficking and strengthen the border, some believe the announcement is a reaction to the Moroccan satellite plan, which Morocco said was to combat groups like Al Qaeda.
The new border wall effort may also reflect the political turmoil between the two neighbors.
Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelkader Mehassel made headlines last month when he accused the Moroccan state airline of smuggling drugs and claimed that Moroccan banks are engaged in massive money laundering schemes.
Since then, Algerians and Moroccans have seen a lot of press space allocated to pondering how this rivalry might play out in policy. The border wall, it seems, may be a part of that. However, other forces may also be at work.
“The wall isn't going to do anything about the satellite,” cybersecurity professional Bob Darvish told Maghreb News Wire on Nov. 1. “It's their response to something that's overwhelming.”
While noting that Algeria and Morocco both have problems with radical groups, Darvish said in reality, these groups are likely to move across national borders and not pay a whole lot of attention to allegiance with either nation.
“From their perspective, nationalism is meaningless,” Darvish said, likening the situation to various groups of gangs in big cities that all have their own individual affiliations. “It's kind of like turf gang warfare on a national scale."
Darvish further described national systems affected by radicals and extremists as a “mafia gang type environment.” Also, he said, there are a lot of back room deals being made, not just over drugs, but over weapons and security assets.
“There's a lot of money being exchanged,” Darvish said, describing how rival groups can infiltrate nations using their networks, even if the nation in question has pretty good border security.
With Spain and other regional parties looking closely Moroccan and Algerian security changes, there will be a lot of scrutiny on how Morocco uses its new satellite capability, and how Algeria sets up its border wall. The results will continue to be a volatile mix of diplomacy, strategy and geopolitical ambition, with all of the wild card chaos of extremist groups thrown in.