In the midst of the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco and the arrival of 8,000 people in an irregular situation in Ceuta, recent statements by the French ambassador in Rabat appear to position France in favour of the Alawi kingdom.
Helene Le Gal stressed that Morocco is a reliable nation and that Rabat takes the fight against illegal immigration "very seriously". "Morocco offers solutions that are very costly for it", the French ambassador added. Le Gal highlighted Franco-Moroccan cooperation, which, in her own words, "works very well" since both countries have common interests and the same challenges, such as terrorism in the Sahel region. "France is strongly committed militarily in the area, where we cooperate with Morocco in the fight against terrorism," said Le Gal. The diplomat also took the opportunity to highlight and praise the good management of the Moroccan authorities during the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "In Morocco alone, 95% of vaccinations in Africa are carried out, this is truly extraordinary," she added.
The French ambassador's words on the migration crisis between Spain and Morocco reiterate recent statements by the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. The minister, during a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, recalled Morocco's important role for France and for the European Union. "Morocco is an unbeatable partner in terms of cooperation in the Sahel, in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration", Le Drian responded to a question on the current diplomatic tension between Madrid and Rabat, which was triggered by the entry of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, into Spanish territory to be hospitalised for humanitarian reasons, according to the Spanish government. The minister also assured that he was "completely convinced" that the partnership between Morocco and Spain, after this crisis, "will be able to resume calmly and dialogue will be able to continue". Regarding Ceuta, Le Drian hopes for a "rapid return to normality" in the Spanish enclave.
France is one of Morocco's main allies and has repeatedly shown its support for Rabat's proposed autonomy plan for the Sahara under the aegis of the United Nations. Moreover, Emmanuel Macron's political party, La République en Marche, has announced that it will open a headquarters in the Saharan town of Dakhla. The aim of this decision is, according to the political party, to "strengthen the network with the Maghreb, West Africa and reinforce the French presence in the area".
The United States, the Kingdom's other major partner, has preferred to be more neutral after the migration problem by supporting Spain and Morocco "to work together towards a resolution". During Donald Trump's presidency, Washington officially recognised Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Current President Biden, following in his predecessor's footsteps, plans to open a consulate in Dakhla, confirming his support for Morocco on the Saharawi issue.
Other countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan have opened diplomatic delegations in Western Sahara in cities such as Dakhla and Laayoun. Several African nations such as Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal have also opened consulates in the region. These international decisions demonstrate the success of Rabat's diplomatic moves to gain more presence and support in the Sahara.