Relations between Morocco and Spain have been crumbling for several days. The hospitalization « on the sly » of the Polisario leader, Brahim Ghali, to be treated for the Coronavirus has triggered the ire of the Moroccan authorities.
The hospitalization in Spain of the President of the SADR, Brahim Ghali, aggravates relations between the two countries, already tense, and revives sensitive issues. « Morocco expresses its disappointment at an act contrary to the spirit of collaboration and good neighbourliness in relation to a fundamental issue for the Moroccan people, » explained the Moroccan Foreign Ministry, Nasser Bourita, who spoke in a video conference with his Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez Laya, on 23 February. The two diplomatic figures welcomed the ‘excellent relations between the two countries’.
A few months later, the torch burns between the Moroccan and Spanish kingdoms because of Western Sahara, with consequences on migration control. In Spain, the press even accuses the Moroccan security forces of having relaxed their vigilance around Ceuta, the Spanish enclave under pressure from migrants, and of no longer controlling departures to the Canary Islands as closely.
Around 100 young Moroccans tried to swim to the beach in Ceuta from the nearby town of Fnideq on Sunday. A man and his daughter were reportedly killed, while Moroccan forces usually guard the coast. This behaviour of the Moroccans would be due to the « surreptitious » hospitalisation of the Polisario leader, Brahim Ghali, to be treated for the Coronavirus in the hospital of San Pedro de Logroño in Spain. His movement claims independence for Western Sahara, administered by the kingdom since 1975.
On Saturday, the Spanish ambassador in Rabat, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitne, was summoned to the Moroccan Foreign Ministry, at the home of Nasser Bourita, to provide explanations. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, hastened to explain that it was a hospitalization for humanitarian reasons. Without managing to extinguish the flame. Some Moroccan newspapers are now calling for the Spanish justice system to judge Brahim Ghali, who is being prosecuted for the crime of genocide, assassination and torture. A complaint was filed in 2006 by Sahrawis who lived in the refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria.
However, Morocco is no longer satisfied with the neutrality of Spain and its other European partners on the Western Sahara issue, at a time when the United States has recognised Moroccan sovereignty over this disputed territory. This complicates relations between Morocco and Spain, which is under pressure from the Cherifian kingdom.