Morocco calls on Spain to change its stance on the Sahara to achieve reconciliation

After conciliatory messages from the Spanish authorities, Rabat asks for "a lot of clarity" to solve the problems between the two countries

 -   Pedro Sánchez and Mohamed VI

Despite Spain's attempts to overcome the diplomatic crisis with Morocco, the Kingdom has asked its neighbour for "a lot of clarity" on the Sahara issue. Mustapha Baitas, spokesman for the Moroccan government, has made his country's demands clear. Baitas reiterated King Mohammed VI's declarations regarding Spain. Last August, the monarch pointed out "the importance of strategic relations between Rabat and Madrid". However, two years earlier, as the spokesman points out, Mohammed VI "defined the reference point for our country's foreign relations in two fundamental principles: ambition and clarity".

In this sense, Baitas explains that "ambition exists and Spain has expressed it". However, "for this ambition to be reinforced", Morocco needs "a great deal of clarity". In this way, Rabat is pressuring Madrid to change its position on the Sahara, and, as other countries have done, to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the region. 

PHOTO/MAP  -   El rey Mohamed VI
PHOTO/MAP - King Mohamed VI
Akhannouch calls for "loyalty to the national cause of the Sahara" 

Baitas' statements come shortly after a televised interview with Aziz Akhannouch, Moroccan Prime Minister, in which he outlined his government's achievements during the first 100 days. On Wednesday, Akhannouch called on all those countries seeking an alliance with Morocco to be "faithful to the national cause of the Sahara". The prime minister highlighted the case of Germany, which also had a diplomatic crisis with Morocco. However, Berlin has announced a change in its policy towards the Sahara, supporting Morocco's autonomy plan for the region and calling it "an agreement that contributes to peace".

"There are many states with which the Foreign Ministry is now speeding up relations. Those who have not understood will take time to understand," Akhannouch said, sending a message to Spain. 

Foto de archivo  -   Aziz Akhannouch, primer ministro de Marruecos
FOTO/ARCHIVO - Aziz Akhannouch, Prime Minister of Morocco

Spain has long been trying to resolve the crisis that began with Brahim Ghali's entry into the country in April. The dispute escalated further in May with the arrival of at least 6,000 migrants in Ceuta from Morocco.

The Polisario Front leader, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, was admitted to a hospital in Logroño for "humanitarian reasons". This event led to the replacement of the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Arancha González Laya, by José Manuel Albares. The new minister, since being sworn in, has made an effort to send messages to his neighbour in order to establish a rapprochement.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain's president, has also joined the minister's strategy, praising relations between Madrid and Rabat. "For Spain, Morocco is a strategic partner with which we must walk together," Sánchez said during a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Olaf Scholz. Moreover, earlier this week, Isabel Rodríguez, a government spokesperson, declared that "Morocco is a neighbouring country, a strategic country". "The two countries are motivated to have good relations and work together in this direction in the coming months and years", she added. 

PHOTO/BALLESTEROS vía AP  -   José Manuel Albares jura su cargo como nuevo ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de España durante la ceremonia de juramento en presencia del rey Felipe de España, a la derecha, y del presidente del Gobierno, Pedro Sánchez, segundo a la derecha, en el Palacio de la Zarzuela en Madrid, España, el lunes 12 de julio de 2021
PHOTO/BALLESTEROS vía AP - Jose Manuel Albares takes the oath of office as Spain's new Foreign Minister during the swearing-in ceremony in the presence of Spain's King Felipe, right, and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, second right, at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, Spain, Monday, July 12, 2021.

Even King Felipe VI called for "redefining the relationship with Morocco on a more solid and stronger basis" during the reception of the diplomatic corps at the Royal Palace. Days later, the Spanish monarch visited the Moroccan stand at the International Tourism Fair (Fitur), which is being held these days in Madrid's Ifema exhibition centre.

Spain's political opposition is also pressuring the government to resume relations with Morocco. Vox has called for ties with Rabat to be re-established, 'as long as the neighbouring country respects Spain and does not threaten it or throw illegal immigrants at it'.  

King Felipe VI during the reception of the diplomatic corps at the Royal Palace.

On the other hand, the leader of the opposition and president of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, defines Morocco as a 'strategic nation for Spain'. Like Vox, he also calls for "firmness" with respect to borders. "We must have good relations in anti-terrorism and migration policy and in the fight against drug trafficking", he stressed in an interview in the newspaper La Voz de Galicia. It is also worth noting that Casado met with Akhannouch during the most tense stage of the diplomatic crisis