Madrid has once again called for a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political settlement” of the Sahara conflict.
Madrid renewed its stand on the conflict on the occasion of the official visit King Juan Carlos I paid to Morocco this week at the invitation of King Mohammed VI.
The leadership of the Polisario separatist movement and several senior officials of the Algerian regime did not hide their disappointment although they knew long before this visit and more precisely since the coming to power of Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party that Madrid has totally aligned itself on Rabat’s stand. Rajoy’s government does not hide its support for the Moroccan initiative to grant a large autonomy to Western Sahara to settle once and for all the longstanding territorial dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed separatist front.
The Polisario leaders were hoping that the Spanish king would respond to Amnesty International’s request and irritate Moroccans by raising the issue of human rights in Morocco and especially in the Sahara. But to their great displeasure, they realized that the journey of King Juan Carlos I has only provided an opportunity to reaffirm that Spain views Morocco as “a strategic partner.”
In the joint statement issued on Thursday at the end of the Spanish King’s four-day visit to Morocco, there is no reference whatsoever to the “right to self-determination”, one of the Polisario’s jingle lines.
To the great discontent of the separatists and the Algerian media, Spain has once again reaffirmed “its support for the UN-sponsored efforts seeking to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political settlement to the Sahara issue, in line with the Security Council resolutions.”
And this was not the first time Spain was voicing such a support. During the latest Moroccan-Spanish high-level meeting held in October 2012 in Rabat, Madrid had welcomed “the serious and credible efforts made by Morocco to find a solution to this conflict.”
After they lost the support of the French Socialists with the arrival of Francois Hollande’s team, the Polisario and the Algerian regime are now totally convinced that they can no longer expect anything from Madrid in the Western Sahara issue. Unless … !