The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned this Saturday the ambassador of Spain in Rabat, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, as confirmed to this newspaper by authorized sources of the Moroccan Government. Rabat has asked the Spanish diplomat for “clarification” on the authorization granted by Madrid for the secretary general of the Polisario Front, Brahim Gali, 73, to travel from the refugee camps of Tindouf to Logroño to be treated for covid-19 in a hospital in the capital of La Rioja.
In a statement released this Sunday, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs “deplores” the Spanish decision to welcome Gali and “expresses its disappointment at this act contrary to the spirit of association and good neighborliness”, which affects “a fundamental issue for the Moroccan people and their living forces ”, alluding to the sovereignty of the Sahara.
The Moroccan Government wonders why Spain has allowed the entry of the Saharawi leader under false identity, why the Spanish courts before which he is accused have not acted against him and why it did not notify him of his arrival. The Spanish ambassador to Rabat was summoned, the note concludes, “to demand the necessary explanations about the attitude of his government.”
Sources from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs have subtracted iron from the call by assuring that, after the Spanish Government confirmed the transfer to Spain of Gali, “for strictly humanitarian reasons so that he could receive health care”, a director general of the Ministry of Affairs Moroccan Foreign Affairs “was interested in knowing more details and, for this, requested a meeting with our ambassador in Rabat, with whom he held a meeting in which they discussed the matter.” The same sources added that “the development of the meeting took place within the normality of diplomatic relations between the two countries.”
The head of Spanish diplomacy, Arancha González Laya, declared this Friday at a press conference that the hospitalization of the president of the SADR (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) and secretary general of the Polisario Front “does not prevent, or disturb, at all” the relationship with Morocco. Laya described the neighboring country as “a privileged partner economically, politically, migratory, business, and in the fight against climate change.”
However, authorized sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated to this newspaper that the fact that the Spanish Government “secretly” welcomes Gali is not typical of a “friendly” country with whom they have “a privileged deal”. Spain and Morocco are still pending to hold the High Level Meeting (RAN) scheduled for the end of last year and which was postponed without a date citing the restrictions imposed by the pandemic
The news of Brahim Gali’s entry into Logroño was published on Wednesday by Young Africa, weekly that enjoys excellent access to the sources of Moroccan power. The publication indicated that Gali was urgently admitted on April 21 under the false identity of the Algerian citizen Mohamed Ben Battouche.
Everything points to the fact that it is the Moroccan espionage services themselves who have managed to access information that the Polisario Front, as well as its main ally, the Government of Algeria, and the Spanish Government itself tried to keep with the utmost secrecy. After the news was published, the adviser to the presidency of the SADR, Bachir Mustafá Sayed, denied that Gali had left Algeria where, he said, he was recovering from a coronavirus infection.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.