The diplomatic row between Spain and Morocco widened, on Tuesday, when a judge in Madrid ruled that the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement, who is being treated in a Spanish hospital, is free to leave the country.
Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front, which has fought since the 1970s for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco, arrived in Spain last month. Migrant crisis with Rabat Over the Ceuta enclave in North Africa.
A Supreme Court judge refused to place Ghali under arrest, saying that allegations of his involvement in torture and disappearance were not supported by prosecutors in the war crimes case against him.
Ghali’s lawyer, who spoke after the Western Sahara leader testified via video from a hospital in the Rioja region, said the allegations against his client were a politically motivated attack on the Western Sahara issue.
Rabat claims sovereignty over the desert region, roughly the size of the United Kingdom, and the collapse of the 30-year ceasefire with the Polisario at the end of last year.
The Moroccan government considers Ghali one of its main enemies. His arrival in Spain in April to receive treatment for the Covid-19 virus was followed by a migrant crisis, when about 10,000 migrants crossed from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta within 48 hours.
Although Spanish officials say Moroccan border guards allowed and encouraged the crossing, Rabat denies that the incursion was in any way linked to the Gali case, and has re-admitted about 8,500 people.
But the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Advertise She explained that the case “revealed the hostile attitudes and strategies harmful to Spain towards the issue of the Moroccan Sahara.” [and] “Our northern neighbor has revealed the complicity of the kingdom’s opponents to undermine the territorial integrity of Morocco.”
The ministry compared the Western Sahara conflict to the independence of Catalonia, arguing that Rabat has consistently supported Spain’s territorial integrity. She added, “How, in this context, can Morocco trust Spain again? How does one know that Spain will not conspire again with the kingdom’s enemies?”
Algeria, Morocco’s long-time neighbor and opponent, is the main supporter of the Polisario, hosting the group on its soil and providing its leaders with passports for travel.
In response to Rabat’s statement, Maria Jess Monteiro, the Spanish ministerial spokeswoman, said on Tuesday that “it is unacceptable for you to challenge the Moroccan government. [Spain’s] Borders and territorial integrity due to differences in this conflict. ”She emphasized that Madrid’s position on Western Sahara is in line with United Nations resolutions.
The European Commission said on Tuesday that it expects the “deep relationship” between the two countries to allow for a reduction of tensions.
Ricardo Fabiani, North Africa director at the International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution organization, also expressed doubts about the extent to which Morocco has escalated the dispute with Spain.
Relations between Morocco and Germany are already tense and the kingdom recalled its ambassador in Berlin for consultations last month – also after tensions over Western Sahara.
After the Trump administration recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the region in December – versus Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel Germany called for a closed meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in the region.
“I doubt that Morocco will want another problem with Spain,” Fabiani said. It is already waging a diplomatic war against the most important and most powerful country in Europe. This would make her isolated in Europe, although she would still defend France. “