Tuesday, August 9

The Government hopes that King Mohamed VI will now promote the total unblocking of relations with Morocco

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares.

The handover to Morocco of the political head of Arancha González Laya and her replacement as Foreign Minister by Jose Manuel Albares, more knowledgeable about the gestures required by the Alawite kingdom, managed to get the Government he will regain communication with Rabat. Only after the super restructuring of July saw the departure of Laya from the Executive, the king Mohamed VI He made his first gesture and publicly blessed the opening of a “new unprecedented stage” in relations with Spain. He himself, he assured the nation in his August speech, had followed “personally and directly” the dialogue with Madrid.

Now the Government is waiting for a new internal order of the monarch allow full recovery of political ties. Moncloa has practically been waiting since September for a date to be set for a new convocation of the High Level Meeting (RAN) between the two countries. The appointment of December 17, 2020 was unilaterally suspended by Rabat, angry that Spain did not make gestures in favor of the recognition of the Moroccan Western Sahara, made a week earlier by Donald Trump.

The logic of diplomatic relations establishes that a meeting should first be held between Albares and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, which has not yet been able to materialize, and then promote the RAN. But, although the dialogue is fully reestablished, and even Spain is considering how to help Morocco after Algeria’s refusal to sell it gas, Rabat continues without setting a date for this interview.

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So far the delay could be explained by the holding of legislative elections in the Alawite kingdom last September and the formation of the Executive. However, since October 8 there is a new Government, chaired by Dear Ajanuch, an executive very close to the King, and still no news. Spain continues to work so that there is a meeting of the two ministers and an appointment of the two cabinets in Rabat as soon as possible. But it cannot be forgotten that the relationship with Morocco is not the same as that which can be maintained with any other neighboring country. Because it is not a democracy – the one who really makes the decisions is the Crown – and because the persecution of jihadism and drug trafficking and the control of migratory flows to Spain and, by extension, to Europe depends on their willingness to collaborate with our country.

And secondly, because Morocco is not the same country as a decade ago. It feels “strong and influential“, has strengthened its harmony with the US after reestablishing diplomatic relations with Israel (the commitment demanded by Trump in exchange for recognizing the Sahara as part of the Alawite kingdom) and is a weapons power. All these circumstances, added to the fact that it constantly demands courtesy gestures, mean that Spain must often be at the expense of its decisions. In the words of an executive analyst, he is still a “uncomfortable neighbor“.

So uncomfortable that last May he stopped controlling the border with Ceuta for hours, he even discreetly warned his population about it, and allowed the arrival of thousands of Moroccans, many of them minors (so that it would be more difficult to return them) to its shores. He did it as a punishment for hospital care in Spain for the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali. An action that caused the diplomatic clash with Spain and ended with the defenestration of Laya, despite the fact that Rabat’s anger with Madrid was much earlier and was linked to his refusal to publicly change his position on the Sahara.

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Spain now has no choice but to wait for Mohamed VI to authorize the RAN. And the same is not the most suitable moment for the King. The reception of Ghali has had a judicial derivative under the premise that it was not made public to hide it from the National Court, where it had open cases, despite the fact that the previous Foreign Ministry has explained that its interest was that Morocco did not know it , who had not previously been notified. According to diplomatic sources, with this investigation opened in a Zaragoza court, Rabat has less incentive because it thus exerts “pressure” on Spain. Different government sources consulted by The Newspaper of Spain argue that behind the two accusations are the secret services of the alawi kingdom.

However, sources very knowledgeable about Moroccan politics link this delay to the absence of more gestures on the Spanish side. And they put as an example that there was no congratulations after the September 8 elections. Yes, it was carried out with the formation of the Government but not for the electoral appointment. The nuance is relevant because the King in his own speech to the nation alluded to it as confirmation “of the roots of democratic exercise and the maturity of the Moroccan political edifice.”

The Spanish Executive wants the RAN to open a new phase of neighborhood with Morocco, more sincere and less aggressive, which in practice involves the shielding of Ceuta and Melilla. It is assumed that Rabat will continue to claim these cities as its own and that it will promote the discourse of territorial integrity -Spain too, of course- but with the guarantee that this will not translate into aggression, as happened in May. The counterpart is that Madrid will help Morocco in its claim to the Sahara, although always in a very discreet way, letting the US and France lead this position. In fact, Spain already defends Moroccan interests against the Sahrawis within the EU.

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