Western Sahara: Spain sides with Morocco

So far Spain had maintained a neutral stance in the conflict over Western Sahara. Now, a letter from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to Moroccan King Mohammad VI has been made public in which he says that Spain considers the incorporation of Western Sahara into Moroccan territory as an autonomous region as the "most realistic and credible basis" for resolving the conflict. Algeria has recalled its ambassador to Madrid in protest.

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El País (ES) /

Western Sahara does not deserve this

El País voices anger with Sánchez and decries a lack of principles:

“While Spain makes a U-turn in its traditional policy, Morocco has not even specified the quid pro quo. ... To make matters worse, yesterday Algeria, a country whose bilateral trade with us equals that of Latin America and which is now crucial as a gas supplier, recalled its ambassador to Madrid yesterday in protest. ... From the point of view of principles, recognition should be the consequence of a process in which the Sahrawis are able to decide their future freely and democratically, in accordance with the positions of the UN. ... Western Sahara deserves solutions that are not confined to mere pragmatism devoid of principles and which only perpetuate the current situation.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Injustice apparently time-barred

For those fighting for self-determination in Western Sahara the Spanish about-face is a tragedy, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“With Spain, these people are losing their last advocate in Europe. The world has turned its back on them. The law of the strongest - which Putin is now trying to impose in Ukraine - threatens to prevail there as well. These are sad times for people like the activist Aminatou Haidar, who was once called the 'Gandhi of Western Sahara' and who is now faced with the fact that injustice is apparently time barred.”

eldiario.es (ES) /

Calm needed on Europe's southern flank

Although the Spanish left usually supports the Sahrawi liberation movement, journalist Elisa Beni voices understanding for Sánchez' decision on the left-wing online portal eldiario.es:

“Having arrived at this geopolitical and geostrategic turning point, I see no harm in trying to find a solution for the EU's southern flank. This is not the time - when we are dealing with millions of Ukrainian refugees - to have Morocco causing problems by allowing uncontrolled flows of refugees on the EU's southern border. ... I have only one doubt, and that is whether this has been done well, to achieve the identified benefits, or whether it has been done poorly, without properly calculating the consequences, meaning that it will only cause more problems, for example with Algeria and its gas.”