Analysis. Algeria said Spain's support of Morocco's occupation strategy is in 'violation of their legal, moral and political obligations,' suspending its 'Friendship Treaty' with Madrid.

Backing Sahrawi people, Algeria distances from Sanchez’s Spain

On Wednesday, Algeria suspended its 2002 “treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation” with Spain, after Madrid recently aligned itself with Morocco’s position on the Western Sahara issue. The declarations of last March 19 by the government of Pedro Sanchez had been condemned by the Polisario Front, the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, as a decision “in total contradiction with international law and UN resolutions.”

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony until 1975, was subsequently invaded by the Moroccan army with the favor of Madrid. The subsequent liberation struggle by the Polisario Front led to the signing, in 1991, of the ceasefire with the establishment of the Minurso mission which provides for “the organization of a self-determination referendum for the Sahrawi people” in a territory considered “not autonomous” by the UN.

Morocco, which occupies almost 80% of Western Sahara, subsequently proposed in 2007 an autonomy plan — on which the Spanish government has recently expressed assent — in order not to “compromise the integrity of Moroccan national borders.”

Believing that the new position of the Spanish authorities is in “violation of their legal, moral and political obligations,” Algeria has decided “to proceed with the immediate suspension of the Friendship Treaty which has been the framework for the development of relations between the two countries.” Algerian president, Abdelmajid Tebboune, made the indication at the conclusion of the meeting of the High Security Council.

The Hispano-Algerian treaty provided for the strengthening of political dialogue between the two countries and the development of cooperation in the economic, financial, educational and defense sectors. “The Spanish government regrets,” say Spanish diplomatic sources, adding that Spain “considers Algeria a neighbor and a friend.”

The Spanish turnaround put an end to a serious diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat for almost a year, marked by the arrival in mid-May 2021 of over 10,000 migrants in 48 hours in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, thanks to a “relaxation” of controls by the Moroccan authorities. The crisis had worsened after Spain welcomed the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, to cure himself of Covid-19.

In a confidential report revealed by El Pais, Spanish intelligence services said that Ghali’s welcome was used by Rabat “as a magnificent opportunity to obtain more concessions” from Spain. In an interview on Tuesday by the newspaper El Periódico de España, the former Spanish foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, accused Morocco of having carried out “wiretapping of Spanish officials during the diplomatic conflict with Madrid.”

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