Morocco demands clarity from Madrid

Brussels 23.05.2021 Morocco urged Spain to open an investigation into the circumstances of a Western Sahara independence leader’s arrival in the country for medical treatment and explain its findings to Rabat.
The Moroccan ambassador to Madrid H.E.Karima Benyaich has described the moment that Spanish-Moroccan relations are going through as a “serious crisis” and so she has spoken in a statement in Spanish read at the Moroccan Foreign Ministry after meeting with the minister of that portfolio, Naser Burita.

Being in Rabat, the Moroccan ambassador to Spain, H.E.Karima Benyaich, warned on May 21 that if the Government in Madrid opted to return the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Gali – hospitalized in Logroño diagnosed with Covid-19 for a month – “with opacity” that would imply “opting for the stagnation and worsening of bilateral relations”.

Benyaich was the first Moroccan representative to articulate on the massive arrival of migrants to Ceuta that began this Monday, May 17, in contrast to the silence that the Rabat authorities maintained during the first days of the migration crisis. This Tuesday, before meeting in Madrid with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, the Moroccan diplomat slipped to Europa Press a veiled reference to the presence of the Polisario leader in Spain, which annoyed Rabat: “There are acts that have consequences and they have to be assumed ”, the Moroccan diplomat said.

This Friday, May 21, already in Rabat, where the diplomat has been called for consultations, the ambassador has been much more explicit. What happens with Gali “is a test for the independence of the Spanish Justice, in which we fully trust,” she pointed out. And also another test to know if Spain “chooses to strengthen its relations with Morocco or prefer to collaborate with its enemies”, in the opinion of Benyaich, for whom Spain “has unfortunately opted for opacity to act behind Morocco’s back, welcoming and protecting this criminal and executioner using humanitarian reasons as a pretext and thus offending the dignity of the Moroccan people ”.

On February 27, the Polisario Front marked the 45th anniversary of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which it declared in 1976 to be the rightful government of the territory of Western Sahara. During the celebration – which took place in the refugee camps of Tindouf, in the Algerian desert, where the seat of the SADR government is located – the Polisario decried the continuing political impasse over the territory, which Morocco also claims. The deadlock must be broken – and the European Union should help.

The EU’s connections to Western Sahara are extensive. Beyond their geographical proximity, Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony with deeply rooted and often personal ties to Spain. For the thousands of Spaniards who have shared their homes with young Sahrawis summer after summer, the issue of Western Sahara is a heartbreaking family affair.

After Morocco took control of Western Sahara, the Sahrawis faced mass displacement, and many now languish in desert camps, with few options but to depend on humanitarian aid. Now, they may be about to become even more vulnerable. Although Western Sahara has been in limbo for decades, a series of recent developments raises the specter of a new wave of violence, which could hurt the Sahrawis above all.

Brahim Ghali (pictured), leader of the Polisario Front which wants independence for Western Sahara, is receiving medical treatment in Spain, angering Morocco which annexed the former Spanish colony decades ago.

Morocco has urged Spain to open an investigation into the circumstances of a Western Sahara independence leader’s Brahim Ghali arrival in the country for medical treatment and explain its findings to Rabat.

Madrid should explain “the conditions, circumstances and connivances that led to the fraudulent entry of this person using false documents and a usurped identity”, Foreign Ministry Director General Fouad Yazourh said on Saturday, May 22.

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