North African arms race

Morocco and Algeria, long at odds, have both been shopping for weapons.

Morocco has signed a contract worth $2.4bn to purchase 24 F-16 fighter jets [Getty]

At odds for decades, Morocco and Algeria have entered what some see as the fiercest arms race in North Africa in years.

In 2006, the Algerian government signed a $1.3bn armament deal with Russia for the delivery of more than 34 MIG 29 fighter jets.

Morocco, for its part, has also decided to go shopping for weapons and signed a contract worth $2.4bn to purchase 24 F-16 fighter jets.

The ongoing arms race comes against the backdrop of a growing deterioration in the two countries’ relations.

Algeria’s foreign minister rejected a call by Morocco to reopen the borders between the two countries, saying the issue is not a priority for his country.

For its part, Morocco accuses Algeria of backing the Polisario front which is fighting for a homeland in Western Sahara, now under Moroccan control.

So, where will this arms race leave North Africa? And what can France and the US, both vying for influence there, do to prevent a deterioration in an already volatile region?

Inside Story, with presenter Hashem Ahelbarra, investigates.


Watch part two of this episode of Inside Story on YouTube

This episode of Inside Story aired on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 17:30 GMT

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Source : Al Jazeera

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