Morocco was awaiting the message sent by the Spanish President Pedro Sanchez to King Mohamed VI to initiate a definitive solution to the crisis between the two countries following the arrival of the Polisario leader, Brahim Ghali, in Spain to be treated in a public hospital for COVID.
The Moroccan royal palace issued a communiqué, transmitted as urgent by the official agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), in which it underlines the two sides which Morocco has considered from the beginning as unquestionable in order to resolve the bilateral crisis:
- The Spanish government's change of position on the ways to resolve the Sahara issue.
- And the unwavering respect for the agreements and commitments made between the two parties in all areas.
President Sánchez reiterates in this Message to the Moroccan sovereign that "the autonomy proposal made by Morocco is "the most serious, realistic and credible basis" for the resolution of the Western Sahara conflict. A long-awaited position on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar, as it prioritises the commitment to hold a referendum on self-determination, as the United Nations has been proposing and as reflected in its Resolutions, although the latter do not specifically mention such a procedure. Pedro Sánchez's government does not say that the referendum 'is no longer a way' to resolve the conflict, but that the 'more serious' path is that of the proposal made by the Moroccan Kingdom, which envisages broad autonomy for the Sahara region within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory.
On the other hand, as ATALAYAR has been able to gather from Moroccan diplomatic sources in Rabat, one paragraph of President Sánchez's message has been particularly appreciated in the Royal Palace, and that is when he states that "Spain will keep its commitments and be true to its word", something that the Moroccan king himself had demanded as a sine qua non condition to overcome the crisis.
According to diplomatic sources in Rabat, the way is now open for the bilateral meeting between the two foreign ministers, Nasser Burita and José Manuel Albares, and the two heads of diplomacy will be able to meet in the coming days. This step is essential for the high-level meeting (RAN), which was suspended and postponed sine die after the outbreak of the bilateral crisis.
Morocco appreciates the step taken by the Spanish government in recognising the Moroccan proposal as the most credible way of settling the Sahara issue once and for all, knowing that it will mean opening a small crisis with Algeria and the Polisario.
The Spanish government's relations with the pro-independence movement are likely to become more troubled after this stance, but it is the Madrid government that stands to gain, according to Moroccan officials in the capital. The Polisario Front can draw on the support of its traditional allies within the government, the ministers of UN Podemos, and with the parliamentary support of Pedro Sánchez, Esquerra Republicana, the Catalan and Basque nationalists and other autonomous regions. But the current tensions within the government and the loss of weight of the Podemos movement will not affect Pedro Sánchez's decision.
As for the possible mini-crisis with Algeria, Rabat believes that the Spanish president has weighed up the pros and cons of the negative effects that this historic decision could have on Algeria's supply of natural gas to Spain.
In its tug of war with the Spanish government, the Polisario risks being withdrawn from recognition in case it resorts to destabilizing actions of the social fabric, believing that the official support it receives is irreversible. In the 90s of the last century, the government of Felipe Gonzalez withdrew the recognition of the Polisario and closed its offices in Spain after the armed attacks that the Saharawi movement carried out against Spanish fishing boats and patrol boats. A measure which lasted only three years, but which existed, and which could be repeated according to sources consulted by ATALAYAR in case the movement led by Brahim Ghali "crosses the red line".