The diplomatic crisis that has put Madrid and Rabat on the brink is over. The Moroccan ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich, will resume her duties and return to Madrid in the next few days, thus closing the chapter of friction which began after the Polisario Front leader, Brahim Ghali, was admitted to hospital in Logroño to be treated for a serious illness caused by COVID-19, according to Moroccan diplomatic sources, according to ATALAYAR.
In the absence of official confirmation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the news reported by the digital Rue20. The return of Ambassador Benyaich, a Spanish-Moroccan national, would mean the formal reopening of bilateral relations between Spain and the Alaouite Kingdom after months of tension. Although no date has been set for the diplomat's return, diplomatic sources assure that her return is imminent.
In recent days, the leaders of both countries have marked the path towards a reunion. On Friday, King Mohammed VI dedicated a few words to Spain during a speech on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the King and People's Revolution. In them, the monarch stressed his intention to "inaugurate an unprecedented stage based on trust, transparency, mutual respect and honouring commitments" with Madrid.
In response, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, thanked Mohammed VI for his message and assured that the Spanish government has always considered Rabat to be a 'strategic ally, both of Spain and of the European Union'. Earlier, King Felipe VI sent a joint message of congratulations with Queen Letizia on the Moroccan monarch's 58th birthday. This message is in addition to the one sent in July for his 22nd anniversary on the throne, an unmistakable sign of closeness.
The parties consider that the crisis has shaken the foundations of their bilateral relations, however, they interpret this situation as an opportunity to recalibrate and improve their cooperation. Behind the scenes, the figure of the new foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, who replaced Arancha González Laya on 10 June, has emerged as the new head of the ministry. From the outset, the diplomat asked for "time and discretion" to resolve the diplomatic conflict with Morocco.
The Spanish and Moroccan delegations have kept a channel of communication open despite the crisis. Mohammed VI himself revealed that he had been directly involved in mediation efforts, but the U-turn in the government's relationship with Morocco now seems to be putting on track a crisis that climaxed with the irregular entry of 10,000 minors into Ceuta in the space of 72 hours. The resolution of this migration crisis continues with the repatriation of a total of 700 migrants, a measure that has been postponed by the judiciary.
Benyaich, in office since 2018, left Spain three months ago after being called for consultations in May by the former foreign minister, Arancha González Laya. Her statements accusing Spain of "acting behind Morocco's back, sheltering and protecting this criminal and executioner, using humanitarian reasons as a pretext and thus offending the dignity of the Moroccan people" irritated the government. The Spanish representative in Rabat was also reprimanded by the Moroccan government. For Morocco, Ghali's entry into Spain was the last straw.
Spain's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, Moroccan aspirations in Ceuta and Melilla, migratory cooperation and cross-strait traffic will mark the Spanish-Moroccan agenda in the coming months. Benyaich will play an important role on these issues, but first he has the task of organising a high-level meeting between the two countries, originally scheduled for last December.