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Rabat – The Spanish government has “categorically” condemned violent protests by Polisario supporters in front of the Moroccan Consulate General in Valencia.
Earlier on Sunday, a group of Polisario sympathizers and activists “committed acts of vandalism” in front of the Moroccan diplomatic representation, Morocco’s state media reported.
In a statement, the Spanish Foreign Affairs repudiated the move, saying that it “undermines the inviolability, integrity, and dignity of the consular headquarters.”
“Spain categorically condemns the acts committed on Sunday by some participants in a rally… in front of the Consulate General of Morocco in Valencia,” read the statement.
Footage of the incident, shared on various social media platforms, showed the group of Polisario supporters entering the Moroccan consulate building and trying to hoist the flag of the self-styled, Polisario-governed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Freedom to demonstrate is fundamental and guaranteed by Spanish regulations, but “no demonstration in the context of the right of assembly can degenerate into illegal actions, like the attempt made this Sunday,” the Spanish government said.
It described the event as “a flagrant violation” of the country’s laws, promising to open investigations and “take all appropriate measures to ensure respect for the integrity and inviolability of the diplomatic missions accredited in our country.”
Morocco strongly condemned the vandalism and violence on Sunday.
“We followed this morning, the criminal and irresponsible acts that the Polisario ordered through a handful of criminals who hung what I would simply call a rag at the level of the enclosure of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco in Valence in the place of the national flag,” Morocco’s Ambassador to Spain Karima Benyaich told reporters.
“I wish to express our indignation, condemning in the strongest terms these acts of vandalism and violence, which, like what happened in El Guerguerat, confirms the mafia and outlaw character of its sponsors.”
This provocation, she underlined, “once again expresses the forward flight of the Polisario in the current context and recalls the very nature of this criminal and outlaw separatist organization which never ceases to call on its supporters to commit acts of violence and vandalism wherever he is.”
The news comes amid global concerns over recent developments in the Western Sahara conflict. It is understood that the pro-Polisario supporters in Valencia were reacting to what the Polisario leadership has described as a declaration of war by Morocco.
On November 13, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces launched a “non-offensive” operation to dislodge a group of armed Polisario members who had been obstructing traffic in the buffer zone in Guerguerat.
According to reliable, non-Moroccan reports, Morocco first pushed for a diplomatic solution, pleading with the UN to warn Polisario against unnecessary escalations in the buffer area.
After Polisario ignored and defied repeated UN warnings for three weeks, Rabat finally intervened to establish a “security cordon,” restoring traffic between Morocco and Mauritania.
In response, Polisario dramatically accused Morocco of “declaring war” by “attacking Sahrawi civilians who were demonstrating peacefully in the areas.”
But many observers and analysts have poured cold water on Polisario’s mendacious claims. “The Polisario feeds on conflicts, threats, and instability. Without this, they have no reason to exist,” one analyst has said.
Meanwhile, even in Spain, where the media usually sympathize with Polisario’s “Sahrawi cause,” there have been suggestions that the Guerguerat crisis was an “escape route” for a Polisario leadership beset by diplomatic setbacks and intense scrutiny over embezzlement and torture allegations.
In its report on the Guerguerat crisis, Spanish newspaper Lavanguardia, which is generally pro-Polisario in tone, noted: “The conflict in Guerguerat could be the escape route that the Polisario has found to appease internal criticism and return to the front lines without having to resort to an open war, for which it would not be prepared.”