Morocco-Spain Crisis: Statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates
I. The appearance, an evolution of which Morocco takes note:
1. First, the appearance of the so-called Ghali confirms what Morocco had said from the start: Spain did indeed bring, knowingly, to its territory, in a fraudulent and occult manner, an individual prosecuted by the Spanish courts for complaints lodged by victims of Spanish nationality and for acts committed in part on Spanish soil.
2. Then, this appearance shows the true face of the "polisario" embodied by a leader who has committed heinous crimes, who violates, tortures, flouts human rights and sponsors terrorist acts.
3. Likewise, it underlines the responsibility of Spain towards itself, since the victims of the so-called Ghali are above all Spanish. This appearance therefore constitutes the beginning of a first recognition of the rights of victims and of the criminal and penal responsibility of this individual. It is also the first time that the Spanish courts have summoned this official, following complaints over serious crimes.
4. And again, these are only the complaints that came to light. What about all the children, women and men who endure the horrors of the "polisario"? Inhuman treatment is inflicted on a daily basis on the populations of Tindouf - the voiceless population of the “polisario” – in the total absence of justice.
II. However, this is not the basis of the problem:
1. The core issue of the problem is a matter of broken trust between partners. The root of the crisis is a question of hostile Spanish ulterior motives about the Sahara, a sacred cause of the whole of the Moroccan people:
The crisis is not related to a man's case. It does not start with his arrival nor does it end with his departure. First of all, it is about trust and mutual respect that are broken between Morocco and Spain. This is a test for the reliability of the partnership between Morocco and Spain.
If the crisis between Morocco and Spain cannot be ended without the appearance of the so-called Ghali, it cannot be resolved with his hearing alone. Morocco's legitimate expectations go beyond that. They begin with an unambiguous clarification by Spain of its choices, decisions and positions.
For Morocco, the so-called Ghali is just like the "polisario". The manner in which he entered Spain - with a fake passport, under a usurped Algerian identity and on board an Algerian presidential plane – shows the essence of this separatist militia.
Beyond the case of the so-called Ghali, this issue has exposed the hostile attitudes and harmful strategies of Spain regarding the Moroccan Sahara issue. It revealed the collusion of our northern neighbour with the Kingdom's enemies to undermine the territorial integrity of Morocco.
How in this context can Morocco once again trust Spain? How can we know that Spain will not plot again with the enemies of the Kingdom? Can Morocco really count on Spain not to act behind its back? How to restore confidence after such a serious mistake? What guarantees of reliability does Morocco have to date? In fact, it comes down to asking the basic question: what does Spain really want?
2. This crisis also raises a question of consistency. You cannot fight separatism at home and encourage it in your neighbour:
It is in the name of this coherence towards itself first and then its partners that Morocco has never instrumentalized separatism. It has never used it as a card in its international relations, and particularly with its neighbours.
In this regard, Morocco's policy towards Spain has always been crystal clear. During the Catalan crisis, Morocco did not choose neutrality; it was among the very first to stand firmly, clearly and strongly, on the side of the territorial integrity and national unity of its northern neighbour.
The question is legitimate: what would have been the reaction of Spain if a figure of Spanish separatism had been received at the Royal Moroccan Palace? How would Spain have reacted if this figure had been received publicly and officially by its strategic ally, its important trading partner, and its closest neighbour to the South?
Let’s not have a short memory. In 2012, for example, when there was a visit to Morocco by a Catalan economic delegation, the program had been amended, at the request of the Spanish government, so that this delegation was not received at a high level and so that during all the talks, there is a presence of the representative of the Spanish embassy in Rabat.
In 2017, the same consistency was applied when Morocco refused the request for a visit and meeting of a leader of Catalan separatism.
Morocco is entitled to expect no less from Spain. This is the very principle of a genuine partnership.
3. Morocco has always shown solidarity with Spain:
There are, of course, natural difficulties linked to the neighbourhood, including cyclical migratory crises. However, these difficulties should never make us forget that solidarity is to partnership what reliability is to good neighbourliness and what trust is to friendship.
It is this solidarity that Morocco has always shown towards Spain. Recent history teaches us that there have been numerous actions in this regard.
In 2002, for example, following the sinking of an oil tanker, Morocco graciously opened its territorial waters to 64 fishing vessels, belonging to the region of Galicia, while the fishing agreements had not yet been concluded.
In 2008, when Spain was in the midst of an economic crisis, Morocco granted exemptions to welcome with open arms and allow the installation and activity in Morocco of Spanish workers and entrepreneurs.
In the midst of the Catalan crisis, Spain has always been able to count on Morocco, which defended, without reservation, its national sovereignty and its territorial integrity, through actions (ban on entry of Catalan separatists into Morocco, ban on all contact between Consulate of Morocco in Barcelona and the Catalan separatist movement) and positions (clear and strong support statements).
The same solidarity spirit has always prevailed in security cooperation and in the fight against illegal migration. Thus, migration cooperation has enabled, since 2017, the abortion of more than 14,000 irregular migration attempts, the dismantling of 5,000 trafficking networks since 2017 and the prevention of countless assault attempts.
Cooperation in the fight against terrorism has enabled the dismantling of several cells, with ramifications both in Morocco and Spain and the neutralization of 82 terrorist acts. There was also the decisive contribution of the Moroccan services in the investigations carried out following the bloody attacks in Madrid in March 2004. Similarly, cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking led to a fruitful exchange on some twenty cases related to international drug trafficking.
How after all this, can we seriously talk about threats and blackmail in connection with the statement of the Ambassador of His Majesty the King in Madrid? Frankness has never been a threat, and the legitimate defense of positions cannot be equated with blackmail.
4. Morocco distinguishes between the friendship of the Spanish people and the nuisance of certain political circles:
In this serious Moroccan-Spanish crisis, Morocco has always made a clear distinction between, on the one hand, the Spanish population and some far-sighted political leaders who value friendship with Morocco and good neighbourliness, and on the other hand, certain political, governmental, media and civil society circles which seek to instrumentalize the Moroccan Sahara issue and undermine the interests of Morocco. These are the people who, in the comfort of their outdated reflexes, continue to see Morocco with anachronistic perspectives, without renouncing the hints of archaism inherited from the past.
Morocco has, moreover and obviously, no problem with the Spanish people, its citizens, its economic stakeholders, its cultural actors and its tourists, who are warmly welcomed as friends and neighbours in Morocco.
Some Spanish citizens even work at the Moroccan Royal Palace long before the birth of His Majesty the King and Their Royal Highnesses, the Princes and Princesses. This is to say, in fact, how much Morocco does not give up on the density and solidity of human ties between Morocco and Spain.
Morocco will remain attached to its natural and genuine ties of friendship with the Spanish people.