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Sand War
Frontière Maroc-Algérie 1963.svg
DateSeptember 25, 1963[1] – February 20, 1964[3] (4 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
The former French Algeria's département of Saoura (present-day Tindouf and Béchar Provinces, Algeria)

Military stalemate[4]

  • The closing of the border south of Figuig, Morocco/Béni Ounif, Algeria.
  • Morocco abandoned its intentions to control Béchar and Tindouf after OAU mediation.
  • No territorial changes were made.
  • DMZ established
1024px Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980)
Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Morocco King Hassan II
Morocco Gen. Driss Alami
Algeria Pres. Ahmed Ben Bella
Cuba Efigenio Ameijeiras
Casualties and losses
39 killed
57 captured[5]
200 killed[6]
60 killed
250 wounded[7]
300 killed[6]
379 captured[5]
Part of a series on the
History of Algeria
Emblem of Algeria.svg
Flag of Algeria.svg
Algeria portal

The Sand War or Sands War (Arabic: حرب الرمالḥarb ar-rimāl) was a border conflict between Algeria and Morocco in October 1963. It resulted largely from the Moroccan government's claim to portions of Algeria's Tindouf and Béchar provinces. The Sand War led to heightened tensions between the two countries for several decades. It was also notable for a short-lived Cuban and Egyptian military intervention on behalf of Algeria, and for ushering in the first multinational peacekeeping mission carried out by the Organization of African Unity.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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    3 167
  • ✪ Sands of War


[MUSIC] (Peter Coyote narrating) They came from cities and small towns, from farms and homesteads. (Harold Bradley) I was born in Elmore City, Oklahoma. Broken Bow, Oklahoma. (Jim Henderson) I was born in Louisiana. I was born in Platteville, Colorado, in 1920. (narrator) Most leaving home for the first time. (George Donoghue) Most of our battalion was made up of high school kids just like me, you know. We were kids, and what we did was amazing. (narrator) They arrived in the middle of nowhere for one thing: to learn to fight. The army told them this would be the best place to train. Nowhere was the desert training center in the Mojave Desert, where one million young Americans would prepare to join the battle to win World War II. [MUSIC] (narrator) The 20th century was witness to war on a scale never before imagined. World War I, called The War to End All Wars, was merely a prelude to an even greater conflict. {music} (David Kennedy) Well, by the late 1930s, Germany was armed to the teeth. And what's more, the Germans had developed a new technique of warfare called blitzkrieg, or lightning war, tank warfare, heavily mechanized warfare using heavily armored military vehicles on the battlefield that could move very quickly and envelop the adversary quickly. This was the essence of blitzkrieg, and it was the type of warfare on which Germany made its principal bet. (narrator) Comforted by the illusion of neutrality, America was content to merely provide war supplies to the Allies for a war we didn't believe was ours. (Franklin D. Roosevelt) From America, they will get tanks and guns and ammunition and supplies of all kinds. (narrator) That illusion, however, was shattered on December 7th, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. [bombs exploding] (Wiley Milford Thornton) I was only about 17 years old. I wasn't ready for wars and all that stuff then. I was ready for skating rinks and just dancing with girls. Somebody said the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, and being very bright and articulate and up to date, I asked, "Where is Pearl Harbor?" (male newscaster) Japanese planes have been sowing death and destruction for an hour on American-- (narrator) Tens of thousands of young men reported for duty, flooding training camps with raw recruits. (George) I was fighting because I was supposed to. I was drafted. I'm no hero. (Arthur Fishtine) I received my draft notice. It was one of the happiest days of my life. (John Knox) I got a dear letter from President, a nice dear letter, "John, tickled to death to know that you're going to be joining my army." (Wiley) I wasn't ready to fight, especially with a gun. 'Cause that's dangerous. (narrator) The Japanese attack put American forces on the defensive in the Pacific. While most of his advisors favored a direct assault on Hitler in Europe, President Roosevelt agreed to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's plan to attack the Axis powers in North Africa, where they were weaker. But American troops would need training and conditioning to contend with the special demands of desert warfare. (Harold) We found out that we were being transferred out of basic training into a specialized training. (Wiley) We were training to go to North Africa and get Rommel with Patton. (narrator) The War Department assigned the task of finding an appropriate location for training troops to fight in desert conditions to General George Patton. (David) George Patton grew up in southern California, largely in Pasadena, in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains, on the other side of which begins the Mojave Desert. He knew it as a boy and a young man, and he knew there was a lot of fairly empty real estate out there. And more than many of his contemporaries, he understood the logic of mechanized warfare, tank warfare, and how it can change the nature of the whole battlefield dynamic. (narrator) After a 4-day tour of prospective sites, Patton declared it the best training area he'd ever seen. It was desolate, remote, and in his estimation, large enough for any training exercise. The boundaries of the Desert Training Center spanned an area from southeastern California to western Arizona and the southern tip of Nevada. (Matt Bischoff) What you see behind me is just a small part of what was once the enormous 18,000-square mile Desert Training Center. It was established in April of 1942. There were steep mountains, deep valleys, playas, dry lake beds, rugged washes. It was really a rough terrain and the perfect place to prepare our men for the rigors of combat that they would soon be facing. (narrator) Encampments housing over 15,000 men each had to be carved out of the desert sands. Virtual tent cities with streets, water, electricity, communications, and medical facilities. We were organizing our hospital to function as a hospital with what we had, and you had nothing. You started from scratch. Most hospitalization, during wartime or not, is actually taking care of medical patients rather than wartime wounds. But I had enough of that later too. (narrator) Water came from the Colorado River aqueduct, built in the '30s to supply the city of Los Angeles, while 3 different rail lines crossing the Mojave brought in supplies, equipment, and troops. By the spring of 1942, the DTC was in operation. Having gone through basic training elsewhere and assigned to established units, troops were coming to complete their training in golden California, the land of movie stars, orange groves, and sun drenched beaches, or so they thought. (George) The biggest surprise to me was wondering, "Where in the hell are we going?" We didn't know where we was going. (Harold) And, Lord, you could see the morale of the boys, how it dropped when they found out they were going to be sent to a desert. You take old farm boys, they weren't ready for desert sand right then. (Horace Barrett) "You should have heard "some of these guys cussing California. "But you can't blame them, not seeing any place else in the state and then dropping them off here in no man's land." Sergeant Horace Barrett, 709th Tank Battalion. A lot of the guys, they groaned. When I saw the desert, I loved it. We went out there, it was springtime, the desert was blooming. (Matt) We're at the former site of Camp Iron Mountain. Across the highway was Camp Granite. Down the highway a few miles was Camp Coxcomb. Just among these three divisional camps, there could be upwards of 50,000 men in training and living here in the desert during the 3-month rotation. (narrator) There were 12 such camps and numerous substations, totaling almost 200 thousand men at its busiest. The division camps were like small towns. At Camp Iron Mountain, you can still see the altars where army chaplains conducted outdoor services... for Catholics and one for Protestants. The town residents, soldiers, demonstrated pride in their neighborhoods by creating decorative rock alignments with unit symbols, and even landscaping with desert shrubs. Nevertheless, Patton insisted on spartan facilities that mirrored field conditions, so there were no barracks, no mess halls, nothing permanent, just tents. We had a tent where we lived four in a tent with dirt floors and cots. (John) Sandstorms. You could be laying on your cot, taking a little rest coming from a 15-mile hike, and all of a sudden, it was like a whirlwind going around in a circle. And all of a sudden, that whirlwind got underneath that big--around our tent, it would just destroy it, just take it away. (Arthur) Then from there, we graduated to pup tents. And then from there, we graduated to sleeping on the ground, no tents at all. It was just sand, sand in your bed, sand in your shoes. We had to live with sand. We got to where we hated sand. (Jim Henderson) There was no place to relax. There was no kitchens, eating out in the desert, trying a place to-- a rock to sit down on, and probably had Jell-O and gravy all in the same cubicle. (Wiley) It was hot, sweaty, and dirty. But I guess they wanted to put us through some of that stuff 'cause we was gonna get a bunch of it later. (narrator) Once settled in camp, the men trained from morning until night. Pilots practiced bombing, strafing, aerial combat and troop support maneuvers, while tankers learned battlefield tactics and techniques, making use of the wide open spaces. Engineering battalions constructed camps, airfields, and other facilities. Supply units learned to operate within vast distances. And the foot soldier, he learned how to attack the enemy, to take and hold ground, to contend with the desert, and to survive. (Horace Barrett) "Monday night, we left here on a 200-mile march "with the new tanks. "We didn't have any sleep from Sunday night to Wednesday night. "We were on the road with the tanks all of that time. It was hell." Sergeant Horace Barrett, 709th Tank Battalion. (Arthur) We didn't rest at all. We had limited water. Imagine in the heat how much water we we required. The guys were actually fainting and dropping like flies. (John) What you've tried to do is to forget about where you are, to forget about the heat, keep those things off your mind, and do what you're taught to do about conserving water. (Arthur) We had to dig in, dig foxholes, and simulate combat. I was in the desert. I must have dug 1,000 holes. Some infantrymen had to dig this foxhole as a part of an extensive defensive position arrayed all along this ridge here. You can see hundreds of foxholes and other defensive positions, and it was all designed in a strategic way to command the heights over this valley that approaches Palen Pass. (narrator) The training by smaller units was expanded into larger division-size engagements. Ultimately, multiple divisions involving tens of thousands of men and their equipment would face off in the desert. Well, this really is the holy grail of training for the Desert Training Center. This is Palen Pass right behind me. Commanders had to learn how to not only coordinate working infantry and armor and artillery and aircraft together, but they had to learn how to do the logistics of supplying those men in the field, and working communications to an effective way. (Jim) Difference between maneuvers and actual battles is that live ammunition isn't coming at you in maneuvers. It physically helped people develop themselves. Also, it instilled teamwork and comradeship, which you needed in actual battle. (narrator) Because of its scale and terrain, Palen Pass maneuvers were like a dress rehearsal for the real combat in North Africa. (Philip Graham) Our station in Algeria, it reminded me of the Mojave Desert. When I was in combat, the training I had there showed up on my missions. It was ideal for training. (Joe Delgado) "First came the airplanes and strafed "the hell out of it. "Then the artillery shells began to cover the ground. "And next came tanks rumbling into the pass, blasting away. "And, finally, streams of troops. "There was so much dust and smoke up there, you wouldn't think anything could be alive for miles." Sergeant Joe Delgado. (narrator) Of course, life at the camps wasn't nonstop training. Men did have days off to write letters back home, or just sit around and play cards. (Gail Terry) "It's hot and dusty. "And you just made do with what's available. "Off-duty, you can't do much. "There are crap games and card games, "and we have a PX that serves warm beer when they can get it." Lieutenant Gail Terry, 736th Tank Battalion. (Wiley) Throw the football and played a little baseball, stuff like that, running in the sand. Yeah, it was good practice. (narrator) Los Angeles, real civilization, was 200 miles away, so celebrities would come out with the USO and entertain the troops. The desert battalion brought busloads of chaperoned young women to the camps for dances in the desert. (narrator) While American troops fought the Axis powers in the name of freedom and human dignity, the Army itself practiced segregation, a reflection of the period. African-American soldiers at the DTC served in all-black units, tasked with service and support duties rather than combat preparation. (John) Most of the outfits that the blacks were in were working outfits, labor outfits. It was our way of living all during the war. It was segregated. (narrator) Although Patton didn't change this practice of prejudice while at the Desert Training Center, he was a highly practical commander in combat. He relied heavily on the 761st Tank Battalion, an all African-American unit, to spearhead engagements in his relentless pursuit of the enemy. (John) Patton thought everybody was the same. When you're in combat, you don't need to be discriminating against another guy that's in combat with you. He's doing the same thing you're doing. (narrator) Patton left the DTC in November of 1942 to lead untested American forces in Operation Torch, the campaign to defeat Rommel in North Africa. (newscaster) Forge ahead to try and effect a junction with the British Eighth Army. (David) The North African campaign was the first time the American forces in World War II confronted the Nazi and fascist adversary. And it was a pretty bloody training ground because the American troops were not that well-prepared. They were quite green troops. One of the things that became apparent in North Africa was integrating ground troops, infantry, tank, mobile warfare proved to be very, very, very complicated. We got our noses very badly bloodied at places like Kasserine Pass and others. (narrator) The disaster at Kasserine Pass led overall commanding general Dwight Eisenhower to place Patton in charge of the Second Corps. Patton immediately set out to restore discipline and morale. Having never trained under Patton or at the Desert Training Center, soldiers received a crash course in Patton doctrine. (Thomas Gibbons) Our first introduction to George Patton, off to the left, was a guy with a shiny helmet and a couple of ivory-- not pearl handle, ivory .44s, not .45s, standing next to a jeep. And he stopped our unit. He looked at us, and he said, "You are the yellowest sons of-- I've ever seen. (narrator) Shortly after Patton's arrival, the Second Corps was put to the test at El Guettar, where American GIs were ordered to hold their ground while the British Eighth Army attacked the Axis forces. Caught in a vise, Rommel sent his trusted Tenth Panzer Division to break through the American lines, only to be repulsed and decimated in what became the first American victory against the German Wehrmacht. (Matt) So, the experiences received in battles in overseas locations, particularly North Africa, were brought back here to the Desert Training Center, and they were applied to the training doctrines used here. (Harold) You don't knock out a Tiger tank by firing a .75-millimeter gun straight at him. So, you've got to find a way to maneuver around it. And the best thing to do is throw out a smokescreen, where he can't see what you're doing, that you might take your tank and slide around to the side or to the rear, and you can knock out a Tiger tank that way. Otherwise, you're just wasting your ammunition. (narrator) By May of 1943, the Allies had vanquished Axis forces in North Africa. Their next objective was liberating Italy before crossing the English Channel for the main invasion of Europe. Soldiers and airmen from the DTC played an important role in subduing Nazi forces... ...just as they did against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. Hitler and Nazism was an evil. No other word could describe it. It's either kill or be killed. And I don't think the American people was brought up to be killers. You know what I mean? (narrator) Even with the best training, a new soldier is never completely prepared for the chaos and human cost of combat. (Arthur) I really didn't think I was going to make it. None of us had that feeling that we were going to make it because the combat was so severe. The mud and the debris raining down on you, the shrapnel and guys yelling, "Medic," and 101 things. That's--that is hell. (Althea Williams) Some of the young men were very stoic, no discussion. But I have learned over the years that the worst thing you can do is bury your memories. (Thomas) Toward the tail end of the war, part of what we did in recon was when they heard of death camps, we went to the death camps. We liberated several of the death camps. And if you could personally play a critical role in eradicating evil, then you did good. You did good. (narrator) Although it was only in operation for 2 years, by early 1944, the Desert Training Center was closed. It had served its purpose, giving 1 million men the skills and toughness to fight. The war wasn't over yet, but our forces were at full strength. (David) Accumulation of all of these people in one space for a defined period of time, going through rigorous training, suffering hardship, supporting one another, learning to act as a team, it was a defining experience for the so-called Greatest Generation, and I think colored the culture and politics of our society for a generation after World War II. There's an esprit-de-corps that we developed during World War II that never goes away. (Philip) We went downtown San Francisco, everybody's on the streets. It was great. (male) All the guys were standing at the side of the rail of the ship, and there wasn't a dry eye when we passed by the Statue of Liberty. (Harold) People say, "You're a hero, Harold." I said, "Yeah." At that time, I was. But when you get caught in a place like that unexpectedly, you don't think of heroes. You just find the best way that you can find to get yourself out of there alive. (narrator) Looking out across the empty landscape, the urgency and sense of mission that once filled this desert is in stark contrast to the tranquility that now prevails. It was a different time, yes, but really not so distant. (John) What you're doing is going to gain you your freedom and get rid of the enemy. That's what we should be doing, and that's what we did. I was scared, I'll admit it. But them guys that just keep plowing is the kind that won the war. (narrator) The remaining artifacts left behind testify to the determination, the sense of duty, and the sacrifice of all who came to this harsh and beautiful place in defense of freedom. (Thomas) It's for the ages to determine, but freedom is not without sacrifice. Freedom is not without sacrifice. (male announcer) Funding for this program made possible by McCoy Solar



The Maghreb in the second half of the 19th century
The Maghreb in the second half of the 19th century

Three factors contributed to the outbreak of this conflict: the absence of a precise delineation of the border between Algeria and Morocco, the discovery of important mineral resources in the disputed area, and the Moroccan irredentism fueled by the Greater Morocco[8] ideology of the Istiqlal Party and Allal al-Fassi.[9]

Before French colonization of the region in the nineteenth century, part of south and west Algeria were under Moroccan influence and no border was defined.[10] In the Treaty of Lalla Maghnia (March 18, 1845), which set the border between French Algeria and Morocco, it is stipulated that "a territory without water is uninhabitable and its boundaries are superfluous"[11] and the border is delineated over only 165 km.[12] Beyond that there is only one border area, without limit, punctuated by tribal territories attached to Morocco or Algeria.

In the 1890s, the French administration and military called for the annexation of the Touat, the Gourara and the Tidikelt,[13] a complex that had been part of the Moroccan Empire for many centuries prior to the arrival of the French in Algeria.[14]

The French 19th Army Corps' Oran and Algiers divisions fought the Aït Khabbash, a fraction of the Aït Ounbgui khams of the Aït Atta confederation. The conflict ended with the annexation of the Touat-Gourara-Tidikelt complex by France in 1901.[15]

After Morocco became a French protectorate in 1912, the French administration set borders between the two territories, but these tracks were often misidentified (Varnier line in 1912, Trinquet line in 1938), and varied from one map to another,[16] since for the French administration these were not international borders and the area was virtually uninhabited.[17] The discovery of large deposits of oil and minerals (iron, manganese) in the region led France to define more precisely the territories, and in 1952 the French decided to integrate Tindouf and Colomb-Bechar to the French departments of Algeria.[18]

In 1956 France relinquished its protectorate in Morocco, which immediately demanded the return of the disputed departments, especially Tindouf.[19] The French government refused.[20]

During the Algerian War, Morocco backed the National Liberation Front, Algeria's leading nationalist movement, in its guerrilla campaign against the French.[19] However, one of the FLN's primary objectives was to prevent France from splitting the strategic Sahara regions from a future Algerian state. It was therefore disinclined to support Morocco's historical claims to Tindouf and Bechar or the concept of a Greater Morocco.[8]

Upon Algerian independence, the FLN announced it would apply the principle of uti possidetis to pre-existing colonial borders. King Hassan II of Morocco visited Algiers in March 1963 to discuss the undefined borders, but Algeria's President Ahmed Ben Bella believed the matter should be resolved at a later date.[21] Ben Bella's fledgling administration was still attempting to rebuild the country after the enormous damage caused by the Algerian War, and was already preoccupied with a Berber rebellion under Hocine Aït Ahmed in the Kabyle mountains. Algerian authorities suspected that Morocco was inciting the revolt, while Hassan was anxious about his own opposition's reverence for Algeria, escalating tensions between the nations.[22] These factors prompted Hassan to begin moving troops towards Tindouf.[20]


1963 American news footage from the conflict

Weeks of skirmishes along the border eventually escalated into a full-blown confrontation on September 25, 1963, with intense fighting around the oasis towns of Tindouf and Figuig.[1] The Royal Moroccan Army soon crossed into Algeria in force and succeeded in taking the two border posts of Hassi-Beida and Tindjoub.[23]

The Algerian military, recently formed from the guerrilla ranks of the FLN's Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN) was still oriented towards asymmetric warfare, and had little heavy weapons.[24] Its logistics was also complicated by its vast array of largely obsolete weapons from a number of diverse sources, including France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the United States.[25] The Algerian army had ordered a large number of AMX-13 light tanks from France in 1962,[26] but at the time of the fighting only twelve were in service.[25] Ironically at least four AMX-13s had been also been donated by Morocco a year earlier.[26] The Soviet Union supplied Algeria with ten T-34 tanks, but these were equipped for clearing minefields and were delivered without turrets or armament.[26][25] The Algerian army also lacked trucks, aircraft, and jeeps.[27]

Morocco's armed forces were smaller, but comparatively well-equipped and frequently took advantage of their superior firepower on the battlefield.[10][28] They possessed forty T-54 main battle tanks that they had purchased from the Soviet Union, twelve SU-100 tank destroyers, seventeen AMX-13s, and a fleet of gun-armed Panhard EBR armored cars.[27] Morocco also possessed modern strike aircraft, while Algeria did not.[26]

Despite internal discontent with the Algerian government, most of the country supported the war effort, which Algerians generally perceived as an act of Moroccan aggression. Even in regions where Ben Bella's regime remained deeply unpopular, such as Kabylie, the population offered to take up arms against the Moroccan invaders.[3] Morocco's invasion proved to be a diplomatic blunder, as the other Arab and African states refused to recognize its border claims. Egypt even began sending troops and defense hardware in late October to bolster the Algerian military.[29] Morocco's Western allies, namely the United States, did not provide assistance, despite Morocco's formal requests to the Kennedy Administration for military aid.[29] The United States feared the escalation and internationalization of the war, particularly wanting to avoid Soviet intervention, and therefore advocated for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.[29]

On October 5, representatives from Morocco and Algeria convened at Oujda to negotiate, but they were unable to deliver a solution.[23] The Moroccans were determined to adjust the border, which the Algerians would not allow, resulting in an impasse.[23]

The Algerian forces began to retaliate against the Moroccan advances, taking back the ports of Hassi-Beida and Tindjoub on October 8.[30] This prompted further attempts at negotiations, but these proved ineffectual as well.[30] On October 13, 1963, Moroccan ground units launched a major offensive on Tindouf. It stalled due to unexpectedly stubborn resistance from the town's Algerian and Egyptian garrison.[31] The Algerians attacked the town of Ich on October 18, enlarging the war to the North.[32]

On October 22, hundreds of Cuban troops arrived at Oran.[33] The troops were sent at the request of Ben Bella, though he would later deny this in 1997.[34] Just years after the victory of their own revolution, many Cubans identified with the Algerians and were eager to support them.[27] They also suspected that Washington was hoping the war would precipitate Ben Bella's downfall, which Castro was determined to prevent.[27] For these reasons, the Cuban Government formed the Grupo Especial de Instrucción to be sent to Algeria.[35] Its forces included twenty-two T-34 tanks, eighteen 120-mm mortars, a battery of 57-mm recoilless rifles, anti-aircraft artillery with eighteen guns, and eighteen 122mm field guns with the crews to operate them.[36] The unit was made up of 686 men under the command of Efigenio Ameijeiras.[36] Although they were initially described as an advisory contingent to train the Algerian army, Fidel Castro also authorized their deployment in combat actions to safeguard Algeria's territorial integrity.[37] The Cubans offloaded their equipment and transported it to the southwestern front by rail. The troops provided training to the Algerians, and their medical team offered the population free healthcare.[38] While Castro had hoped to keep Cuba's intervention covert, and a number of the Cuban personnel wore Algerian uniforms, they were observed by French military and diplomatic staff in Oran and word of their presence soon leaked to the Western press.[37] Algeria and Cuba planned a major counteroffensive, Operation Dignidad, aimed at driving the Moroccan forces back across the border and capturing Berguent. However, Ben Bella suspended the attack in order to proceed with negotiations to end the war peacefully.[29]

Moroccan forces had planned a second offensive on Tindouf and occupied positions about four kilometres from the settlement.[20] However, Hassan was reluctant to authorise it, fearing that another battle would prompt further military intervention from Algeria's allies.[20]

Multiple actors, including the Arab League, Tunisia's Habib Bourguiba, Libya's King Idris, and Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie, sought to moderate negotiations.[39] The United Nations received many pleas to issue a ceasefire appeal, but Secretary-General U Thant wanted to allow regional initiatives to pursue a solution.[39] On October 29, Hassan and Ben Bella met to negotiate in Bamako, Mali, joined by Emperor Selassie and Mali's President Modibo Keïta.[40] After the four leaders met alone on October 30, a truce was declared.[40] The accord mandated a ceasefire for November 2, and announced that a commission consisting of Moroccan, Algerian, Ethiopian, and Malian officers would decide the boundaries of a demilitarized zone.[40] It was also determined that an Ethiopian and Malian team would observe the neutrality of the demilitarized zone.[40] Finally, the accord suggested an immediate gathering of the Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).[40] The meeting would be held to set up a commission to determine who was responsible for starting the war and to examine the frontier question and suggest methods for bringing about a lasting settlement of the conflict.[40]

The ceasefire was almost jeopardized on November 1, when Algerian troops assaulted a village near Figuig and positioned themselves against the town's airport.[41] The attack was denounced and dramatized by the Moroccan Government.[41] However, a Malian officer arrived on November 4 and enforced the Bamako Accord, ending the hostilities.[41]

The OAU mediated a formal peace treaty on February 20, 1964.[42] The treaty was signed in Mali following a number of preliminary discussions between Hassan and Ben Bella.[20] Terms of this agreement included a reaffirmation of the previously established borders in Algeria's favor and restoration of the status quo.[3] The demilitarized zone was maintained in the meantime, monitored by the OAU's first multinational peacekeeping force.[31]


French sources reported Algerian casualties to be 60 dead and 250 wounded,[7] with later works giving a number of 300 Algerian dead.[6] Morocco officially reported to have suffered 39 dead.[5] Moroccan losses were probably lower than the Algerians' but are unconfirmed,[7] with later sources reporting 200 Moroccan dead.[6] About 57 Moroccans and 379 Algerians were taken prisoner.[5]


The Sand War laid the foundations for a lasting and often intensely hostile rivalry between Morocco and Algeria, exacerbated by the differences in political outlook between the conservative Moroccan monarchy and the revolutionary, Arab nationalist Algerian military government.[10][43] In January 1969, Algerian President Houari Boumediene made a state visit to Morocco and signed a treaty of friendship with Hassan's government at Ifrane.[20] The following year the two leaders set up a commission to demarcate the border and examine prospects for joint efforts to mine iron ore in the disputed region.[20] Morocco finally abandoned all claims to Algerian territory in 1972 with the Accord of Ifrane, though Morocco refused to ratify the agreement until 1989.[44]

The governments of both Morocco and Algeria used the war to describe opposition movements as unpatriotic. The Moroccan UNFP and the Algerian-Berber FFS of Aït Ahmed both suffered as a result of this. In the case of UNFP, its leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, sided with Algeria, and was sentenced to death in absentia as a result. In Algeria, the armed rebellion of the FFS in Kabylie fizzled out, as commanders defected to join the national forces against Morocco.

The rivalry between Morocco and Algeria exemplified in the Sand War also influenced Algeria's policy regarding the conflict in Western Sahara, with Algeria backing an independence-minded Sahrawi guerrilla organization, the Polisario Front, partly to curb Moroccan expansionism in the wake of the attempt to annex Tindouf.[45]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Gleijeses 2002, p. 44.
  2. ^ Ottaway 1970, p. 166.
  3. ^ a b c Gleijeses 2002, p. 47.
  4. ^ "Within weeks the war ended in stalemate." Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by Alexander Mikaberidze Read here. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hughes 2001, page 137
  6. ^ a b c d Clodfelter, Micheal (2008). Warfare and Armed Conflicts (3rd ed.). McFarland. ISBN 9780786433193.
  7. ^ a b c Mikaberidze, Alexander, ed. (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. 1. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598843361.
  8. ^ a b Touval 1967, p. 106.
  9. ^ Biography of Allal al-Fassi
  10. ^ a b c Security Problems with Neighboring States –
  11. ^ Article 6 du traité, cité par Zartman, page 163
  12. ^ Reyner 1963, p. 316.
  13. ^ Frank E. Trout, Morocco's Boundary in the Guir-Zousfana River Basin, in: African Historical Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1 (1970), pp. 37–56, Publ. Boston University African Studies Center: « The Algerian-Moroccan conflict can be said to have begun in 1890s when the administration and military in Algeria called for annexation of the Touat-Gourara-Tidikelt, a sizable expanse of Saharan oases that was nominally a part of the Moroccan Empire (...) The Touat-Gourara-Tidikelt oases had been an appendage of the Moroccan Empire, jutting southeast for about 750 kilometers into the Saharan desert »
  14. ^ Frank E. Trout, Morocco's Saharan Frontiers, Droz (1969), p.24 (ISBN 9782600044950) : « The Gourara-Touat-Tidikelt complex had been under Moroccan domination for many centuries prior to the arrival of the French in Algeria »
  15. ^ Claude Lefébure, Ayt Khebbach, impasse sud-est. L'involution d'une tribu marocaine exclue du Sahara, in: Revue de l'Occident musulman et de la Méditerranée, N°41–42, 1986. Désert et montagne au Maghreb. pp. 136–157: « les Divisions d'Oran et d'Alger du 19e Corps d'armée n'ont pu conquérir le Touat et le Gourara qu'au prix de durs combats menés contre les semi-nomades d'obédience marocaine qui, depuis plus d'un siècle, imposaient leur protection aux oasiens »
  16. ^ Reyner 1963, p. 317.
  17. ^ Heggoy 1970.
  18. ^ Farsoun & Paul 1976, p. 13.
  19. ^ a b Bidwell 1998, p. 415.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Bidwell 1998, p. 414.
  21. ^ Torres-García, Ana (2013). "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)". The Journal of North African Studies. 18 (2): 327. doi:10.1080/13629387.2013.767041.
  22. ^ Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  23. ^ a b c Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  24. ^ How Cuba aided revolutionary Algeria in 1963 –
  25. ^ a b c Gleijeses 2002, p. 41.
  26. ^ a b c d "Trade Registers". Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  27. ^ a b c d Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  28. ^ Armed Conflict Events Data –
  29. ^ a b c d Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  30. ^ a b Torres-García, Ana (2013). "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)". The Journal of North African Studies. 18 (2): 328.
  31. ^ a b Goldstein 1992, p. 174.
  32. ^ Torres-García, Ana (2013). "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)". The Journal of North African Studies. 18 (2): 329.
  33. ^ Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  34. ^ Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 41; 46. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  35. ^ Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  36. ^ a b Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  37. ^ a b Gleijeses 2002, p. 45.
  38. ^ Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  39. ^ a b Torres-García, Ana (2013). "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)". The Journal of North African Studies. 18 (2): 335.
  40. ^ a b c d e f Torres-García, Ana (2013). "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)". The Journal of North African Studies. 18 (2): 339.
  41. ^ a b c Torres-García, Ana (2013). "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)". The Journal of North African Studies. 18 (2): 340.
  42. ^ The 1963 border war and the 1972 treaty Archived 2006-09-27 at the Wayback Machine –
  43. ^ Algiers and Rabat, still miles apart – Le Monde Diplomatique
  44. ^ Zunes, Stephen (Summer 1995). "Algeria, The Maghreb Union, & the Western Sahara Stalemate". Arab Studies Quarterly. 17 (3): 29. JSTOR 41858127.
  45. ^ Mundy, Jacob; Zunes, Stephen (2014). "Western Sahara: Nonviolent resistance as a last resort". In Dudouet, Véronique (ed.). Civil Resistance and Conflict Transformation: Transitions from Armed to Nonviolent Struggle. Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 9781317697787.


  • Bidwell, Robin (1998). Dictionary Of Modern Arab History. South Glamorgan: Kegan Paul International. ISBN 978-1138967670.
  • Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959–1976. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-807-82647-8.
  • Goldstein, Erik (1992). Wars and Peace Treaties: 1816 to 1991. Oxfordshire: Routledge Books. ISBN 978-0415078221.
  • Farsoun, K.; Paul, J. (1976), "War in the Sahara: 1963", Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) Reports, 45 (45): 13–16, JSTOR 3011767. Link requires subscription to Jstor.
  • Heggoy, A.A. (1970), "Colonial origins of the Algerian-Moroccan border conflict of October 1963", African Studies Review, 13 (1): 17–22, doi:10.2307/523680, JSTOR 523680. Link requires subscription to Jstor.
  • Ottaway, David (1970), Algeria: The Politics of a Socialist Revolution, Berkeley, California: University of California Press, ISBN 9780520016552
  • Reyner, A.S. (1963), "Morocco's international boundaries: a factual background", Journal of Modern African Studies, 1 (3): 313–326, doi:10.1017/s0022278x00001725, JSTOR 158912. Link requires subscription to Jstor.
  • Torres-García, Ana (2013), "US diplomacy and the North African 'War of the Sands' (1963)", The Journal of North African Studies, 18 (2): 324–48, doi:10.1080/13629387.2013.767041
  • Touval, S. (1967), "The Organization of African Unity and African borders", International Organization, 21 (1): 102–127, doi:10.1017/s0020818300013151, JSTOR 2705705. Link requires subscription to Jstor.
  • Stephen O. Hughes, Morocco under King Hassan, Garnet & Ithaca Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8637-2285-7
  • Zunes, Stephen (1995). "Algeria, The Maghreb Union, and the Western Sahara Stalemate." Arab Studies Quarterly, 17 (3): 23-36.

Further reading

  • Pennell, C.R. (2000). Morocco Since 1830. A History. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-6676-7.
  • Stora, B. (2004). Algeria 1830–2000. A Short History. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-3715-1.
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