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Rabat – Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita has addressed a direct message to the Spanish government, asking whether the European country is ready to sacrifice the strategic ties between Rabat and Madrid for Polisario leader Brahim Ghali.
Bourita gave his first interview on the topic to Spanish news agency EFE. In the interview, Morocco’s top diplomat discussed the repercussions of Spain’s decision to welcome Brahim Ghali for medical care.
Hosting the Polisario chief despite the multiple charges he is facing for his invovlement in different crimes – inclding genocide, torture, kidnapping, forced disappearance, and rape – was a wrong and incomprehensible move, the Moroccan FM appeared to suggest
Many of Ghali’s victims have renewed their complaints with Spanish courts and are now calling on Spain to immediately arrest the separatist leader.
In the interview, Morocco’s FM reaffirmed the Moroccan position regarding Spain’s decision; he questioned Madrid’s reluctance – and refusal – to provide answers to Rabat’s concerns and questions.
Asking whether Spain is ready to “sacrifice its bilateral relationship with [Morocco] because of Brahim Ghali,” Bourita said that Morocco is still “waiting for a satisfactory and convincing response” from the Spanish government.
He told EFE that the Ghali episode constitutes a test of “reliability” for Spain-Morocco relations.
He said the situation will show Morocco whether Spain is really a strategic partner or the much-touted economic ties and political cooperation between the two countries are simply slogans.
He also recalled that Morocco has expressed unwavering support for Spain in the face of the separatism of Cataln separatists.
“When Spain faced separatism, Morocco was very clear.”
Bourita explained that Morocco rejected all contact and interaction with Catalan separatism and informed its partners when the leaders of the separatists asked Rabat to receive them.
Stressing that the Western Sahara question is of utmost importance for Morocco, Bourita said: “One does not maneuver behind the back of one’s partners on a fundamental issue.”
The statement comes to further deplore the “highest level” Spanish-Algerian cooperation to arrange for Ghali’s hospitalization in a Spanish city without notifying Morocco.
Speaking of the multiple crime accusations facing Brahim Ghali, Bourita said the Polisario leader is a “rapist who has tolerated slavery, torture, war crimes, child soldiers, and genocide, and Spain knows this more than anyone else.”
He added, “Where is the Spanish judiciary in all this? Has no magistrate deemed it necessary to act on these complaints?”
Bourita hinted at the depth of Morocco-Spain ties, acknowledging that the two countries maintain a “global partnership” built on a strong “political, economic, commercial, human, and security” cooperation.
But he emphasized that Morocco’s importance should not be limited to only specific areas of partnership, such as migratory management and counterterrorism.
“When it comes to plotting with Algeria and the Polisario, Morocco leaves Spain’s radar, but when it comes to migration or terrorism, we become important again,” he said.
Morocco has a key role in managing migration, with several Spanish officials acknowledging that Rabat managed to cut the number of irregular migration attempts by half several times in recent years.
Morocco’s intelligence also provides critical data to international partners regarding terror suspects, enabling countries to foil several terrorist attacks.
The European Union recently said it is planning to increase its financial contribution to Morocco’s security efforts in the Mediterranean. For the EU, the main goal is to convince the North African country to help Europe manage the source and flow of irregular migration.
Bourita renewed Morocco’s position regarding the situation, saying that Rabat refuses to be the “policeman” of the EU on migration issues.
He emphasized the “shared responsibility” principle, which Morocco has long maintained is the most optimal way to tackle the migratory crisis. Rather than financial support and handout diplomacy, genuine cooperation at all levels of the decision making process is the best way to manage migration and related issues, argued the Moroccan FM.
“We must be partners in the vision, in the formulation of strategies, not only in their implementation in exchange for a sum of money.”