why does Spain cease its neutrality?

On Saturday, March 19, Algiers recalled its ambassador to Spain for “consultation”. A sign of protest after the support shown for Rabat’s self-government plan in the issue of Western Sahara. By violating its traditional neutrality, Spain evokes contrasting reactions from those involved in this matter.

On Friday, the head of Spanish diplomacy declared that Morocco’s autonomy plan is “the most serious, realistic and credible basis for resolving this dispute”, to say the least historically.

In Madrid’s eyes, this positioning marks a “new phase” in relations with Rabat. By openly supporting the Moroccan authorities’ autonomy plan for Western Sahara, Spain is trying to emerge from a crisis that began to seriously affect the country. This gesture allows him to try to put an end to the diplomatic tensions with the kingdom, which in recent months have increased the pressure.

Comment on RFI by journalist Ignacio Cembrer:

The Spanish government has put an end to 47 years of Spanish neutrality in the conflict in Western Sahara, states the Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero. He probably did it to stop the crisis with Morocco. There was a lot of pressure from the latter: the massive entry of irregular immigrants into the city of Ceuta in May last year, the prolonged closure beyond health grounds of the land borders to Ceuta and Melilla, the disruption of passenger traffic through the Strait of Gibraltar – preventing Andalusian ports from cooperating with Morocco. The list is very, very long. Morocco has not stopped using peaceful means to make Spain give in. Something he finally managed to do … Surprise from Algiers and the Polisario Front A sign of this rapprochement: the Spanish Prime Minister has planned an official visit to Rabat, without specifying a date at the moment. For the Moroccan authorities, this support is important, because thanks to Madrid, Rabat hopes to get more support for his autonomy plan within the European Union and the UN, an observer explains.

The Saharan separatists from the Polisario Front, for their part, say they are “surprised” by this reversal of Spanish diplomacy. The former colonial empire still has the “status of administering power” in place, and as such “it should have a balanced strategy”, says Oubi Bachir Bouchraya, representative of the Polisario Front in Europe.

We deeply regret this Spanish position, which arises in the context of tensions, wars, violations of the ceasefire, but at the same time also with the UN’s efforts to resume the negotiation process.

Oubi Bachir Bouchraya, representative of the Polisario Front in Europe

First consequence of this statement: Algeria, which supports the Polisario Front, recalled its ambassador “for consultation”. And the action is immediate. In a press release, Algiers said they were “very surprised” by the Spanish authorities’ “sudden reversal”.

What is the equivalent of Madrid? It also remains to be seen whether this “normalization” of relations between the two countries will be sustainable. Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero is still skeptical: “We will now have a normal relationship with Morocco, but I do not think we can have a very cordial relationship with Morocco. It still continues to claim the cities of Ceuta and Melilla; it has passed laws on territorial waters and exclusive economic zones encroaching on the Canary Islands; it does not recognize territorial waters in Ceuta and Melilla.

The journalist says that Spain has received “no significant consideration”. “It may be that the irregular immigration that arrives in the Canary Islands and which has increased a lot in recent months is decreasing, so Spain has had a few months of peace and quiet with its neighbor. But the relationship will always continue to be complicated”, concludes – he.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More