Will diplomacy regain the upper hand in the crisis between Rabat and Madrid? On Sunday May 23, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita urged Spain not to worsen the tensions triggered by the hospitalization of Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front. Allow the latter “To return home, bypass Spanish justice and ignore the victims would be a call to decay”, underlined the diplomat in an interview with AFP.
Rabat says the leader of the Sahrawi independence movement backed by Algiers has traveled “Fraudulent” in Spain, “With a falsified passport”. Treated since April in Logroño (north) after contracting Covid-19, the 75-year-old manager is now ” recovering “ and “Far from any danger”, according to a senior Sahrawi official.
Ulcerated by this hospitalization, the Moroccan authorities demand an investigation ” transparent “ and “Taking into account the complaints lodged against him” for « tortures », “Human rights violations” or “Enforced disappearance”. “It is a test for the strategic partnership” linking the two countries in particular in terms of the fight against illegal migration, warned Nasser Bourita.
“Good neighborliness is not a one-way street”
The case turned to the crisis opened on Monday, May 17 when Moroccan forces relaxed their border control earlier this week, leaving 10,000 Moroccans dreaming of emigrating to Europe to pass through the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. A gesture perceived by Madrid as a “Aggression” and one “Blackmail” from Rabat.
“Good neighborliness is not a one-way street”, retorted Sunday the head of Moroccan diplomacy, believing that his country “Does not have the obligation to protect the borders”. Since 2017, the Cherifian kingdom “Dismantled more than 4,000 networks and blocked 14,000 irregular attempts” while the financial counterpart of Europe, “An average of 300 million euros per year” does not represent “Not 20%” of what he hires, according to Nasser Bourita.
Spanish justice reopened this week a case against Brahim Ghali for “Crimes against humanity” after an old complaint filed by an association accusing him of “Human rights violations” on dissidents from Tindouf camps (western Algeria). Elected in 2016 at the head of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR, self-proclaimed), the leader had already been summoned to appear on June 1 for a complaint for « tortures » filed by a dissident of the naturalized Spanish Polisario.
The Polisario militates for the independence of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony controlled for the most part by Morocco, which offers autonomy under its sovereignty. After almost 30 years of ceasefire, hostilities resumed in mid-November after the deployment of Moroccan troops in a buffer zone in the far south of the territory, to dislodge separatists who blocked the only road to Africa from the west. Western Sahara is considered a “Non-self-governing territory” by the UN in the absence of a final settlement of the question of its status.