Despite the pressure from the Moroccan authorities and the very tense diplomatic relations between Rabat and Madrid, Spain is not ready to change its position on the Western Sahara issue. Unlike Algeria, Spain does not support the independence of Western Sahara, but wants a proper decolonisation under the UN. This intermediate position stems from the history linking the Spanish kingdom to this territory.
As the colonial power in the region from 1884 to 1975, Spain did not respect the rules imposed by international law at the time of decolonisation. It did not carry out the referendum on self-determination of the Saharawi people for which it was mandated by the UN, leaving Morocco and Mauritania to annex the territory.
Today, Spain’s intermediary position on the Saharawi issue is poisoning relations with its Moroccan neighbour, especially after having welcomed the leader of the Polisario Front on its territory under a false identity and in complicity with the Algerian authorities. To respond to Spain in a strong manner, the Cherifian kingdom does not hesitate to use the migratory pressure in Ceuta and Melilla as a diplomatic weapon.
Morocco considers Spain to be pro-Saharan. Nasser Bourita’s department is determined to put an end to 45 years of tug-of-war with the Saharawi separatists, whose leader Brahim Ghali is currently in Spain for health reasons. For the Moroccan authorities, the thing is very clear: recognise the belonging of Western Sahara to the kingdom and be seen as an ally, otherwise you are hostile. Morocco cannot admit any intermediate position on this issue.
Only, Spain continues to defend a resolution of the Saharawi issue, according to the rules dictated by international law under the aegis of the United Nations. This posture forbids it to recognise the Sahara as belonging to Morocco. Even when the United States recognised the Moroccanity of Western Sahara in exchange for a normalisation of relations between Morocco and Israel, Spain did not follow suit. A position, after all, that annoys Morocco.