Morocco Spain’s political agenda is becoming increasingly relevant. Relations with the Maghreb neighbor are formalized, despite Sanchez’s constant winks in the direction of Rabat, in a tense lull. Moncloa’s historic turn in March with regard to Western Sahara – the recognition of the Alauite country’s 2007 autonomy plan, and with it the sovereignty of the former colony of Mohammed VI – leaves behind a string of diplomatic conflicts to be resolved. We are talking about dominance over the waters of the continental shelf separating the Canary archipelago and the coast of Africa.
The issue of limits marking the maritime boundaries between Spain and Morocco is historical and is currently taking on a decisive role in the diplomatic relations of both countries, while new negotiations are expected on a new division of territory against Canary Islands. Currently, this sea corridor – one of the main migration routes to the islands – is divided in the middle by a median. However, the waters that remain on the African side are not, according to international law, completely Moroccan, since the coasts located in the southern half of the archipelago open onto the occupied territory of Western Sahara. This is where the problems come in.
“The waters of the Sahara cannot be negotiated”
Negotiations between Rabat and Madrid will begin in the coming weeks – an exact date has yet to be set – and Saharawi’s legal representatives have not been called and will not participate. Any agreement signed that provides for a new division – whether in the interests of Spain or Morocco – of the southern zone of the continental shelf, located in the territory of the former Spanish colony, may cause a new reaction from Front Polisario before international courts.
“The waters of the Sahara cannot be negotiated. If this happens, Spain will expressly recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the occupied territory. It will be something very serious,” he told Público. Abdullah Arabi, Delegate of the Polisario Front in Spain. UN resolutions and a recent decision by the European Court of Justice (CJEU) recognize that until the issue of decolonization is resolved, POLISARIO is the only valid interlocutor with whom one can enter into diplomatic negotiations or commercial relations regarding the resources of the Sahara.
From POLISARIO, they do not trust the dialogues between Madrid and Rabat and warn that they will take legal action in the face of any pact that includes a Saharan Atlantic façade. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to make statements to Público on the matter, so it is unknown if Spain is open to including the waters of its former colony in diplomatic talks with Morocco.
Polisario Front: “We cannot maintain normal relations with a government that positions itself on the side of the aggressor country”
On the other hand, the absence of the Frente POLISARIO in the negotiations does not surprise its representative in Spain, who recalls that “the problem of dialogue has always existed.” However, the Saharawi politician expresses his dissatisfaction and clarifies that the current situation is different, since relations with Spain have been severed after the change of position of Sanchez. In fact, the sovereignty movement does not intend to sit with representatives of Spain “at least until we get an answer and clarify the agreements with Morocco, because we don’t know anything except the famous letter,” Araby says. “We cannot maintain normal relations with a government that clearly positions itself on the side of the aggressor and occupying country,” he condemns.
Morocco’s clear intentions
While the Spanish government remains silent, Rabat is pulling strings in front of the international community to legitimize the occupation. In parallel with the bilateral talks that will open in the coming weeks, the UN is working on updating the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, a body made up of technical profiles that will discuss and prepare a proposal to delimit the waters. . Despite the scientific nature of this committee, which consists of 21 representatives from the world of geophysics, geology and hydrography, Morocco intends to politicize it.
So much so that the Alawite country has appointed a lawyer without academic training who has repeatedly defended Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. In addition, as confirmed by Público, the embassies of the Alaouite country are working to convince the international community of the suitability of their candidate for this UN body, which is determined by a vote in which each member should receive two-thirds of state support. .
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