Sand War: The Cold War in North Africa

In 1963 a border dispute between Morocco and Algeria escalated into the Sand War. What began as an ideological difference between two newly independent nations soon became personal.

Around 350,000 Moroccans march into Western Sahara in the Green March in protest against Spanish occupation, November 1975. Photo by Patrick Jarnoux/Paris Match via Getty Images.

On 25 September 1963 Moroccan army units, numbering around a thousand men, crossed into Algeria and seized the two border posts of Hassi Beida and Tindjoub, escalating a crisis which had been simmering since Algerian independence in July 1962. In the following days both countries held back from the brink as negotiations were convened in Oujda, the Moroccan city nine miles from the border. But when these discussions broke down on 5 October the way was open for war. Algerian forces retook the two border posts three days later.

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