Tag Archives: Spain

W.Sahara leader returns to Algeria

Brussels 02.06.2021 The leader of the Western Sahara independence movement, Brahim Ghali, returned to Algeria on Wednesday, Juin 2, after spending more than a month in hospital in Spain – a stay which triggered a diplomatic row between Spain and Morocco. (Image above: illustration)

“He arrived safe and sound,” commented the trip Jalil Mohamed, the Polisario Front’s spokesman in Spain.

Algerian state television later showed President Abdelmadjid Tebboune visiting Ghali in hospital, but gave no details of their discussion between them.

Rabat has not yet commented on Ghali’s departure from Spain but had previously informed that it would not alone resolve the dispute.

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, which was a Spanish colony until the mid-1970s and nowadays is claimed by Morocco.

Ghali flew to Algeria from Pamplona in northern Spain at 1:40 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Juin 2, on an officially chartered private plane, the spokesman for Polisario Front said.

Ghali, who was suffering from COVID-19 complications, had been admitted to a Spanish hospital in April on humanitarian grounds, the Madrid government said.

The Polisario leader left Spain several hours after appearing remotely in a hearing with Spanish high court on a war crimes case. Following the hearing, judges did not impose any restrictions on the Polisario leader and allowed him to leave the country.

Spain’s decision to admit Ghali to a hospital in the northern Spanish city of Logrono, presenting Algerian documents and without informing Rabat, the move visibly upset Morocco.

Moroccan officials suggested that last month’s sudden influx of migrants to Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta after security forces appeared to loosen border controls was a form of retaliation.

Algerian support for the Polisario Front independence movement is a also source of anger in Morocco.

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.

W.Sahara: Borrell insists on respect of ceasefire

The High Representative Josep Borrell met this Sunday, November 15, with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco Nasser Bourita and of Algeria Sabri Boukadoum, to learn about the latest developments in the El Guerguerat area, following the latest events that took place there.

The High Representative recalled on this occasion the full support of the EU for the efforts of the United Nations and its Secretary General with a view to finding a peaceful settlement to the question of Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations. United Nations and especially of the last resolution (2548) adopted on October 30, 2020. In this context, he wished for a rapid resumption of discussions under the leadership of the United Nations and a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Western Sahara.

In particular, the High Representative underlined the paramount importance of ensuring respect for the ceasefire agreements in place since 1991 and reiterated the full support of the EU for MINURSO’s efforts to this end. In this context, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs assured the High Representative of his country’s commitment to respect for the ceasefire.

The High Representative also particularly insisted on the preservation of freedom of movement and cross-border trade in the El Guerguerat area, and its significant impact on the entire Maghreb and Sahel region, a region of strategic importance. A political solution to the question of Western Sahara is essential for regional cooperation between the Maghreb countries, the stability, security and prosperity of the region, and this even more in view of the current economic difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic .

Spain categorically condemns the acts committed on Sunday by some participants in a rally (…) in front of the Consulate General of Morocco in Valencia,” said the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation in a statement.
These madmen entered the consulate building in an attempt to place the flag of the so-called “RASD” there, “thus undermining the inviolability, integrity and dignity of the consular headquarters”, underlines the Spanish ministry . “No demonstration exercised within the framework of the right of assembly can degenerate into illegal actions, like the attempt perpetrated on Sunday, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the legislation in force”, affirms the Spanish diplomacy”.

Spain-Morocco territorial waters talks

Foreign ministers of Spain and Morocco announced their countries would hold talks about overlapping areas of ocean that they both claim rights to in the North Atlantic.
The Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya (pictured) traveled to Morocco on January 24 amid diplomatic tension over Rabat’s attempt to take control of waters close to Canary Islands.

The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahara, a territory that has been contested between Rabat and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the end of Spanish colonial era in 1975.

Morocco’s parliament passed two bills this week to give domestic legal grounds to a coastal area the North African country already controls, causing concern about Canary Islands, where the Madrid warned of overlaps with Spanish territorial waters.

Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said that defining territorial waters was a “sovereign right” and that his country aimed to upgrade domestic law in compliance with the UN law of the sea convention.

“In case of overlaps, international law requires states to negotiate,” said Bourita following talks with his Spanish peer, Arancha Gonzalez Laya.

Morocco rejects unilateral acts and “fait accompli,” he said, adding that Spain was a “strategic partner” and Morocco’s largest trading partner.

Gonzalez Laya said Morocco’s willingness to negotiate “reassures the Canary Islands”.

Morocco is a source of stability for Spain,” Arancha Gonzalez Laya said, pointing at “close cooperation” in the fight against jihadists and illegal migration.

Morocco anti-terrorist raids continue

Morocco arrested a Swiss-Spanish double national on December 29 in connection with the killing of two Scandinavian tourists (pictured above), the counter-terrorism agency confirmed.

The authorities said he also held Spanish nationality with residence in Morocco.

The suspect was arrested for “involvement in recruiting Moroccan and sub-Saharan nationals to carry out terrorist plots in Morocco against foreign targets and security forces in order to take hold of their service weapons”, the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) said.

Nineteen other men have been arrested in connection with the case, including four main suspects who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video made three days before the tourists’ before killings of Scandinavian women.

However police and domestic intelligence spokesman Boubker Sabik this week described the four men as “lone wolves”, and said “the crime was not coordinated with Islamic State”.

Mutilated corpses of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway were found by passing by tourists on December 17 near the village of Imlil in the Atlas Mountains.

 

EU extended mandate to NAVFOR Somalia operation

EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta: Council prolongs the Operation and decides on new headquarters and new Operation Commander.

The Council today extended the mandate of EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta until 31 December 2020. The Council also decided to relocate the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Operational Headquarters from Northwood (UK) to Rota (Spain), and to Brest (France) for the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) as of 29 March 2019. It appointed Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacavefrom the Spanish Navy as new Operation Commander to take command from Major General Charlie Stickland on the same date. The relocation and change in command are required due to the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU.

Today’s decision also allocated a budget of €11.777 million for the common costs of the operation for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020.

EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.

The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.

Illegal migrants storm fences in Spain

A several hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa entered Spain after storming a double barrier between Morocco and the Spanish territory of Ceuta, with some attacking security forces with quicklime, police reported.

The scramble over the barrier is the biggest in Ceuta since February 2017, when more than 850 migrants entered the overseas territory over four days. Today around 600 illegals migrantes participated in breaking into Spanish territory.

At present Spain becomes the number one destination for illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean by boat, surpassing Italy with 19,586 arrivals so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force in #Ceuta told AFP the migrants managed to climb over the double barrier, which is covered in small blades, early on Thursday morning, June 26.

They scrambled over “all of a sudden, with much violence,” and some attacked police with quicklime they had in tubes and bottles.

As a result, “more than a dozen police” were injured, four of whom had to go to hospital for burns in the face and arms.

“There is no possible justification for an organized, illegal, massive and violent assault on a border like today’s : 600 young and strong men have wounded viciously and used quicklime against  22 agents. All my support and admiration for the Guardia Civil” – wrote in her Twitter microblog Beatriz Becerra, MEP, vice-chair of the Subcommittee of Human rights of the European Parliament.

Spanish citizens are waiting for the reaction of government on this outbreak of violence.

AMENDMENT: Spanish newspaper El Pais reports total more than “800 illegal migrants from sub-Sanitarian Africa without documents” early morning hours stormed the border between Ceuta and Marocco.

 

Salvini offers Spain to host more migrants from Italy

Italy Interior Minister Matteo Salvini articulated that his country is “no longer the doormat of Europe”, while commenting on repelled migrants transported to Italy from Libyan coast by Aquarius NGO vessel, and the proposal of Spain to host them.  Salvini also said that Spain can also host  “another 66,000” migrants who stay in Italy now.

“Finally the Germans, the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and even the Spanish are listening to us,” Salvini underlined. The minister said he would seek to increase deportations of migrants whose asylum requests are rejected and work on a plan for Africa featuring development interventions to reduce migrant flows.

Reportedly Salvini demanded the Netherlands to recall Dutch-flagged ‘rescue’ ships of open borders NGOs, like Aquarius, insisting Italy refuses to be complicit in “illegal immigration business”.

EU extends G5 training in Mali

The Council extended the mandate of the EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) for two years, until 18 May 2020. The Council also amended the mandate of the mission to include in its objectives the provision of advice and training support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, as part of the EU’s ongoing efforts to support the G5 Sahel process.

The Council also agreed to allocate a significantly increased budget of € 59.7 million to the mission for the period from 19 May 2018 to 18 May 2020, compared to € 33.4 for the current two-year period.

This decision means that the efforts carried out over recent months to regionalise the work of both civilian and military CSDP missions (EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger) in the Sahel will become more operational. The aim is to support regional security cooperation, as set out in the Council conclusions on Mali and the Sahel of 19 June 2017.

EUTM Mali assists in the reconstruction of effective and accountable Malian armed forces capable of ensuring the long-term security of Mali and, under civilian authority, restoring the country’s territorial integrity. To this effect, EUTM Mali delivers training to units of the Malian armed forces and aids the development of an autonomous training capability. The mission also provides advice to the Malian authorities on reforming the army.

The headquarters of the mission are located in Bamako, Mali. The commander of the mission is Brigadier General Enrique Millán Martinez, a Spanish national who took up his duties on 31 January 2018.

The mission is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to security and development in the Sahel. There are two other CSDP missions in the region: EUCAP Sahel Mali, which supports the Malian state’s efforts to ensure constitutional and democratic order, implement the conditions for lasting peace and maintain its authority throughout the entire territory; and EUCAP Sahel Niger, which supports the fight against organised crime and terrorism in Niger.

Europol: wildlife crimes

The Spanish Guardia Civil, with the support of Europol and in close cooperation with Mexico, has carried out Operation SUZAKU, resulting in 29 arrests in Spain and in other countries. All of the arrestees have been charged with crimes of smuggling, wildlife crime and animal abuses, as well as being part of a criminal infrastructure.

Over 2,000 animal were seized during Operation SUKAZU, and the expected benefits that could have been obtained by the trafficking of species have been estimated to be above half a million euro. International trafficking of species is identified as a priority in the fight against organised crime within the EU Policy Cycle for the next four years.

The organised crime group controlled a network of operators, who were transporting birds of a large variety of species to Spain from different places in Africa and Latin America by using mules. International collaboration has taken place with police authorities and other bodies from 18 different countries.

Using various concealment techniques, the criminal group trafficked birds that are classified under different types of protection and that were included in the CITES Convention and in the national protection laws of the countries of origin. Many of the birds died during the transit and sometimes the death rate reached 50%. The criminal group used several points of entry in Spain, using the airports of Madrid-Barajas, Pamplona and Bilbao.

Operation SUZAKU has been mainly carried out by the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Guardia Civil. Europol supported the operation and facilitated the exchange of operational information. AMERIPOL coordinated the activities with the different Latin American countries involved.

Europol birds

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