It has taken Morocco 15 months for Spain to abandon its neutrality in the Sahara conflict and openly support his autonomy plan. But he has succeeded. Just a few weeks after the UN special envoy, Staffan de Mistura, deliver your report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Alaouite kingdom has the support of the US, France, Germany and Spain. Now it remains to be seen whether, after the historic change in position by the Spanish government, Rabat is willing to give something in return.
And this Thursday will be the first time to prove it. The Chief Executive, Pedro Sancheztravels to Morocco to hold an audience with Mohamed VI and later share with him the ‘iftar’, the meal with which Muslims break their fast during the Ramadan. A gesture that in both countries is interpreted as the definitive proof of the end of hostilities.
The Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, who accompanies the president on the visit, stressed these days that the custom is to invite friends and family. For this reason, he maintained, this deference to Sánchez is a friendship sign to open a new stage in the bilateral relationship. It is even expected that they can take a walk together through the Royal Palace, but it is not confirmed that, from that first meeting prior to dinner, a joint statement will come out, something that would satisfy the Government.
Although in the resolution of the crisis it has been the Moroccan king who has acted according to his rules – he imposed that the turn on the Sahara be reflected in a letter from Sánchez to him, make it known himself and even caused the suspension of a previous trip from Albares to Rabat last week to advance the meeting with the president-, from Moncloa yesterday they insisted on the importance of the head of the Executive traveling in the middle of Ramadan and participating in that dinner, not only as a gesture to Sánchez, but also as a key internal. Spainhe comes to say, it is no longer a hostile country, as it has been during this very long crisis.
And another way of transmitting it is the news about the great economic opportunities that the African neighbor represents for our country, which yesterday, on the eve of the visit, was broadcast by the official Moroccan agency (MAP). “Since eight years ago, Spain is the first supplier and client of Moroccowhich has given its economic operators a special position and fluid access to the national market”, he pointed out, to list below all the business possibilities.
The national automobile industry and supply companies, the textile sector, tourism and the “so-called sectors of the future, in which the transition to a green and less polluting economy is considered an absolute priority”. Morocco and Spain, the note ended, “which share deep historical ties, have good prospects for their economic and commercial association, which would benefit the economic operators of both countries.”
Beyond cooperation on immigration and control of jihadism and drug trafficking, which is fundamental, all of this is also part of the menu offered by Morocco in this new phase of collaboration. In Moncloa they recognized yesterday that Sánchez and Mohamed VI will talk about “economic opportunities” and also of the role that this country can play as “interlocutor with the rest of Africa”.
The Spanish agenda contains more issues, more hot spots, which must be cleared up little by little. Among them, the Moroccan commitment to the “territorial integrity” of Spainwhich means not turning Ceuta and Melilla into a territorial claim, the promise to don’t blackmail our country by sending immigrants – reducing the control of the fences or the coasts – and a calendar for the reopening of borders with the two autonomous cities. All of them have been part of the negotiations carried out these months and although they have been reflected in the letter that Sánchez sent to Mohamed VI, they are still pending some progress.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.