Contemporary diplomatic relations between Morocco and Spain saw their genesis after the Spanish departed from Western Sahara and the tripartite agreement was reached in 1975. Signed in , this agreement between , Mauritania, and tried to normalize the future of the region’s borders and of the people of Western Sahara.
However, after signing the deal, the government in sovereignty over ‘s former colony in Western Sahara. A geopolitical matter of vital importance for , the question of Western Sahara remains an unhealed wound in the relationship between and .never formalized its political and diplomatic position regarding Moroccan
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In 2021, this wound was reopened after, in a somewhat secret and irregular move, welcomed Brahim Ghali, secretary-general of the Polisario Front, a nationalist movement seeking independence for Western Sahara vis-à-vis . On top of the fact that Ghali is wanted in for crimes against humanity, rape and torture, among others, he is also a staunch enemy of the government in .
This politically embarrassing situation, a product of a diplomatic miscalculation by the Spanish government, created a feeling of betrayal in. quickly conveyed its discomfort, considering ’s harboring of Ghali a challenge to the kingdom’s sovereignty and interference in an internal state matter. Thus, issued a warning that continuing to host Ghali would have consequences.
Spain in North Africa
Despite these warnings, the government indecided not to make any political or diplomatic overtures to , declining to resolve the misunderstanding in a consensual manner. Therefore, in a way, the Spanish government forwent its diplomatic relationship with and disregarded the important role that has always played as a critical partner in the fight against illegal trafficking and terrorism stemming from the and the Sahel.
Though the relationship between migrants to reach Tarajal beach. Around 8,000 people, including more than 1,500 estimated minors, tried to cross the Spanish-Moroccan border on foot and by swimming to enter Spanish soil illegally.and has lived through ups and downs, the tensions last year felt much different. Through relaxation of its military controls, ‘s threat became a reality in May 2021 when effectively opened its border with , a Spanish enclave and autonomous city located on the African continent, which made it easier for waves of irregular
As crude as it may seem, this political move by the government in, using Moroccans and Africans in general as a weapon against , is not new. For years, has used this modus operandi as a diplomatic weapon to pressure and obtain concessions from its European neighbor. However, there has not been such a mass arrival of people, especially such a high percentage of minors, to the Spanish border in recent history.
The diplomatic crisis last May led to authentic moments of chaos and siege along implored the Spanish government to back down from political moves, such as open invitations to regional nationalist leaders.‘s border, making the passage of many of these immigrants to the European territory possible. Through its actions, sent a message without palliatives and
The Existential Issue of Territorial Integrity
Morocco’s red lines related to Western Sahara have been drawn, and the kingdom has reiterated that interferences with its national sovereignty will not be tolerated. The crude political response at the Spanish border ofrepresents the harshness of ‘s diplomatic relations, choosing, yet again, to weaponize its population.
European Union should not allow the pressure and blackmail from their North African neighbor to stand because they embolden others. and the EU should impose strict red lines on as well as clear and intelligent economic sanctions concerning development, education and health funds.needs ; indeed, Europe needs . is a crucial partner in Africa, especially given the many challenges in the region. However, and the
Political, and diplomatic issues can be resolved with class and delicacy without cheap blows and without trivializing despair and compassion. For this, regarding the status and future of Western Sahara.needs to reach a rapprochement with
Energy and Copycats
In tandem with Morocco’s migrant valve vis-à-vis revenues or a higher power bill., Algeria started leveraging its gas valve to counter France’s escalation on matters like issuing visas to Algerian citizens. In this latter issue, and , neither of whom are particularly close with Algeria, are collateral damage to the Paris-Algiers feud whether in the form of declining pipeline
Since these episodes toward the middle of last year, the same playbook has been used by Moscow’s client in Minsk, who has fostered a migrant cul-de-sac along the EU’s Polish border. In doing so, Russia and Belarus are feeding the euroskeptic spirits within the Visegrad countries and beyond, which are particularly sensitive to migration and border sovereignty issues. Moreover, Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin are playing good cop, bad cop on the issue of Europe’s gas supply by offering both threats and assurances that further highlight the EU’s vulnerable dependency on external providers when it comes to energy.
On the migration front, the European Union needs to reinforce its external borders and FRONTEX agency, particularly within the Schengen area, and formulate a common framework to tackle both migration quotas and allocation throughout Schengen member countries. Not only is the migrant reality in places like , Greece, and Poland a human tragedy, but it is also increasingly a geopolitical lever weaponized by , Turkey, Belarus and other adversaries to destabilize the EU and bolster internal chaos to the benefit of figures such as Viktor Orban, Geert Wilders, Santiago Abascal, Marine Le Pen, and Eric Zemmour.
Whether nuclear, solar or wind, a common and comprehensive European defense framework urgently requires a holistic approach that tackles the issue of energy independence, in addition to that of border security, particularly in an increasingly hostile and multipolar neighborhood.
Building Solutions Where Possible
Along the, one of the best solutions would be a new pragmatic and flexible bipartisan agreement between and . An agreement that commemorates the golden jubilee of the Tripartite Agreement provides a firm solution to the Western Sahara dispute in a framework that benefits coexistence in the region and maintains collaboration in critical matters such as the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and human trafficking.
In the same way,and the EU must encourage the good behavior of with humanitarian aid and fruitful commercial relations to definitively close the post-colonial wound that sometimes reopens between the two countries.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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