Morocco’s biggest trading partner is Spain. On topics such as migration, militancy, and energy, the two countries have collaborated.
After Spain said last month that it supports Morocco’s autonomy plan “as the most serious, realistic, and credible framework for resolving the issue” over Western Sahara, relations between the two countries have improved.
The language represented a shift in Spanish policy in support of Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory that Morocco claims but where the Algeria-backed Polisario Front seeks to establish its own state.
Morocco was enraged in April of last year when Spain admitted Polisario commander Brahim Ghali for medical treatment without informing Morocco.
Morocco has threatened to terminate diplomatic ties with Ghali if he leaves Spain without facing human rights allegations.
Following that, Rabat appeared to loosen border controls with Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco, resulting in an influx of at least 8,000 migrants, the most of whom were later repatriated.
The Spanish support for the autonomy plan follows similar sentiments taken by the US, Germany, France, Israel, and other African and Arab countries.
Rabat claims that the autonomy effort from 2007 is the most it can offer in terms of finding a political solution to the dispute.
The Polisario and Algeria, which is an ally of the Polisario, oppose this and insist on holding an independence vote.
The United Nations has avoided mentioning the referendum option, instead asking conflict parties to engage in good faith toward a “mutually acceptable solution.”
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