The government of Pedro Sánchez adds a new slight to Morocco: the presence in Spain of Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front. Ghali is hospitalized in serious condition in Logroño and under a false identity, diplomatic sources confirmed this Thursday. An indictment for crimes of genocide weighs on him by the National Court, which is already working to corroborate that he is in Spanish territory and to, if appropriate, take a statement from him.
Diplomatic sources consulted by 20minutos they hide behind “humanitarian reasons” to explain that Ghali is in Spain. “He has been transferred to Spain because he needs health care and is being treated for humanitarian reasons,” they underline. On the other hand, they do not explain when Ghali entered Spanish territory, what this humanitarian motivation consists of, nor do they answer the question of whether Morocco was notified of these events.
Asked about this matter this Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, was limited to alleging the aforementioned “humanitarian reasons” to try to settle the episode. At the same time, he denied that it could interfere in relations between Spain and Morocco: “Not at all. This issue neither prevents, nor disturbs, the excellent relations that Spain has with Morocco, which is not only a neighbor and a friend, but a privileged partner. economically, politically, migratory, business and the fight against climate change, “remarked the minister, who refused to contribute “no additional details”, reports EFE. The truth is that this strategic link goes through low hours.
A broken tradition
The Sánchez Presidency already got off to a bad start, in 2018, with regard to Morocco, since the tradition that the first official trip is to that country was broken. Although the socialist had planned that this would be his first visit, Rabat replied that King Mohamed VI was not in the country and the executive leader chose not to subject his agenda to the availability of the monarch – according to government sources at the time – and initiated European tour, which had its first stop in Paris, where he met up with Macron.
Sánchez’s first trip to Morocco did not occur until November 2018, when he was received by Mohamed VI. After the hearing, the Spanish president said that relations were “extraordinarily” positive. and it was proposed to “strengthen” the ties between both countries, which called for a High Level Meeting – a meeting similar to the bilateral summits with European countries – “to continue deepening relations.”
The truth is that, more than two years later, that summit has yet to take place. It was scheduled for December 2020, but in the previous dates, information emerged that suggested that Mohamed VI would not receive Sánchez and finally the visit was postponed, officially because the pandemic prevented the meeting from being held with “health security guarantees.” The possibility of resuming the meeting in February or March 2021 was considered, but it was not possible on that occasion either. The Government insists that the meeting will be held “as soon as possible”, but avoid citing any specific date.
Compliments to other countries
Sánchez, on the other hand, has visited other countries on the African continent, to which he has dedicated a good number of compliments. After the stoppage imposed by the pandemic, his first visit was to Mauritania, where he traveled accompanied by an aid package to contain the coronavirus. Mauritania is “a friendly country” and an essential partner to face the challenges of stability and security in the area, said Sánchez, who promised the country that “he will always be able to count on the support of Spain.”
Later, in October, Sánchez visited Algeria, where he set himself the goal of “further deepening institutional, economic and human ties” with the country. Along these lines, in March of this year he received the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs in La Moncloa, to whom he told that Spain aspires to “become a reference business partner” of the African country.
That same commercial vocation had Sánchez’s recent African tour, which took him to Angola and Senegal at the beginning of April. The objective was to boost the relationship with both countries and seek new business opportunities for Spanish companies, although the trip earned him criticism from the PP for taking place in the midst of the rebound in the incidence of the coronavirus. In one of his interventions, the president said that “Spain wants to look more and more at Africa”, although the summit with Morocco remains undated.
Another of the government’s controversies with Morocco featured the leader of Podemos and then second vice president, Pablo Iglesias, who came to ask for a referendum for the Sahara. Last November, and in the middle of the migration crisis with the Canary Islands, United We can accuse Morocco of breaking the ceasefire and asked the UN to guarantee peace in the area, after the Moroccan Army evicted Sahrawi protesters who had been blocking a five-kilometer strip between Moroccan customs and the Mauritanian border for three weeks.
Morocco, for its part, has also generated tensions. Last December, the Spanish Government urgently summoned the Moroccan ambassador to ask her for explanations after the country’s prime minister, Saadeddine El Othmani, defended that Ceuta and Melilla “are Moroccan.” These statements led the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Cristina Gallach, to recall that the Government “expects from all its partners respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
A year earlier, the decision of Morocco to delimit its sovereign waters through the approval of two laws also generated discomfort – and concern, especially in the Canary Islands, since the limits that are marked in these initiatives conflict with the waters of the archipelago. The delimitation process has not yet concluded, but it may reignite tensions between the two countries.