Sunday, August 1

Sánchez discuss with Biden a negotiated solution to the crisis with Morocco


Spain believes that if it now yields to Shara, Rabat will later claim Ceuta and Melilla

Moroccan and US commanders in the exercises
Moroccan and US commanders in the Africa Lion exercises, on June 11.AFP
  • OTAN Pedro Sánchez will finally meet Joe Biden on Monday in Brussels
  • Exteriors Gesture of the United States before the meeting between Biden and Sánchez: highlights the alliance with Spain and supports an orderly migration

The diplomatic crisis with Morocco has a red line which is the Shara Occidental. Spain will not change its refusal to recognize the sovereignty of the Alau kingdom over this territory. It can be read as an exercise in coherence or in nostalgia for an enclave that until 1975 was a Spanish province and on which, although the claim for an independence referendum has been abandoned, the proposal of a just and negotiated solution for the two parties in conflict. But the reality is much more prosaic. It’s a defense mechanism.

Not even remotely does the Government consider giving in to pressure from Rabat, despite the fact that there are voices in Spain asking to review this position and that relations with Morocco are at one of their worst moments, precisely because they reject the Moroccanness of the Shara. Up to two executive sources have admitted to this newspaper that if they finally manage to annex this territory, the next step will be Ceuta Y Melilla. The Moroccan Prime Minister himself, Saad Edinel Othmani, revealed a few months ago: The day will come when we are going to reopen the matter of Ceuta and Melilla, Moroccan territories like Shara.

This certainty prevents any change and to make it absolutely clear Pedro Sánchez traveled to Ceuta and Melilla, when Morocco threw thousands of Moroccans into the sea, including young people and children, in retaliation against the Government, aware that this visit would further anger the government. Mohamed VI.

Spain ran into a new problem when on December 10, 2019, Trump admitted that the Shara was part of Morocco, in exchange for the Alau monarchy to reestablish relations with Israel. This same week a spokesman for the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, He denied that Joe Biden is promoting a policy of continuity with Shara and advanced that he is consulting privately with the parties about the best way to achieve a halt to violence and a lasting agreement. Among those parties is, of course, Spain as the administering power.

Government sources confirm that contacts on the Shara have taken place and that the Executive has transmitted the message that this conflict should be channeled through the United Nations, which has yet to appoint a representative of MINURSO (UN Mission for Shara Western). Spain has not just seen a change in the American position, but it is an attempt to contain Morocco, which is putting pressure on the US with a favorable pronouncement, according to the sources consulted.

This brake on the aspirations of Rabat by the US comes just before the meeting that Joe Biden will hold on Monday with Pedro Sánchez at the NATO summit in Brussels. In principle, it is just a first contact, an opportunity to get to know each other personally. There is no confirmation that they will talk about the Shara. But that same day it will be announced that Spain will host the 2022 NATO summit, a special appointment in the history of the Atlantic Alliance because it is an extraordinary meeting in which the challenges for the coming years will be defined. A gesture favorable to our country.

Spain is trying to overcome the crisis with its southern neighbor with great restraint, despite ongoing criticism from Rabat. On Friday, on his last day in Costa Rica, Pedro Sánchez urged the two countries to look ahead. There are many more things that unite us than those that separate us. But the crisis is still open. Moncloa defends that going down but assumes that you have to be patient.

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