The supply of gas from Spain to Morocco through the gas pipeline that originates in Algeria has fueled the differences between Madrid and Algiers and threatens to establish an endemic conflict between the two capitals, without forgetting the permanent tensions between Algerians and Moroccans due to the occupation of the Occidental Sahara.
Pedro Sánchez’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara constitutes one step back which has already begun to have serious consequences. With this decision, Sánchez seeks to “normalize” relations with Rabat, despite the fact that Moroccans have shown throughout history, actively and passively, that they are not reliable partnersunlike Algeria.
Pedro Sánchez’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara
Morocco was importing Algerian gas within the framework of the benefits that corresponded to it because the gas pipeline between Algeria and Spain runs through its territory. This situation lasted from 1996 until last year, when Algeria decided to break off relations with Rabat and turn off the faucet.
The closure of the gas pipeline has put Morocco in a difficult situation for two reasons. First, needs gas just at a delicate international moment because of the war in Ukraine; and, secondly, because, unlike Spain, it lacks ports that have the capacity to receive liquefied gas and transform it into natural gas.
In these circumstances, Pedro Sánchez has once again extended a friendly hand to Morocco. The problem is that it is not the first or the second time that Madrid has done it and it has always found unfriendly responses from Morocco, a country with which daily reality shows that it is not possible to maintain a cordial and stable relationship permanentlyas is the case with Algeria.
The process of sending gas to Morocco, which began this week, has provoked a strong reaction from Algeria. The Algerian Ministry of Energy has warned the Spanish Government that it will interrupt the supply if Spain transfers part of it to third countries, in a clear reference to Morocco.
The Algerians have announced that from now on they will have a hostile behavior towards Spain
The Minister of Energy, Teresa Ribera, sent a letter to her Algerian colleague on Wednesday confirming that Spain is sending gas to Morocco through the gas pipeline, but denying that this gas is part of the gas that Spain receives from Algeria.
The zigzag of Pedro Sánchez in relation to the Sahara has stirred up the Algerians, who have announced that from now on they will have hostile behavior towards Spain. In fact, one of the first consequences has been that Algiers, which until now was a solid partner of Madrid, has chosen Italy as an intermediate country for the export of its gas to Europe.
This leads us to confirm the sad situation of the European Union, where each country pulls where it is most convenient and does not pay any attention to the general interests of Europe, an attitude that has been seen for many years with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and other leaders who cry out in public in favor of Europe but then do what is best for them.
A French magazine report Jeune Africa stresses that relations between Algeria and Morocco have deteriorated even further since Sánchez’s zigzag, and that there is from fact a war in the desert between the two countries which periodically picks up with the actions of the Moroccan army in the south of the former Spanish colony.
There is a de facto war in the desert between the two countries
The news agency of the Polisario Front recently reported “the new raid attacks against the property of defenseless civilians in the liberated territories of the Saharawi Republic”, attacks that since last year have caused an intermittent trickle of deaths.
Algerian media reported that on April 10 Moroccan aviation carried out eight raid against “trucks and merchants” in the south of the Sahara. The Government of Algiers has criticized “the expansionist objectives of the Kingdom [de Marruecos]” and “state terrorism”, as well as “cruelty against civilians and premeditated murder“.
Three days later, the Mauritanian government confirmed that there were Mauritanian civilian casualties in the raid on April 10, and in a second statement confirmed the death of a Mauritanian woman and her nephew, this being the first time that Mauritanian citizens die in attacks by Moroccans. Rabat did not offer any comment.
April 10 was the first time that Mauritanian citizens died in attacks by Moroccans
In practice, things have been complicated for the Saharawi since President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara in exchange for Rabat normalizing relations with Israel at the end of 2020. And to aggravate the situation, the presence of Israel in Morocco, which is growing from day to day, does not bode well.
The Moroccan authorities repeat that they do not want to enter a warbut the reality is that they are already in one, and everything indicates that they are in the midst of an arms race with the acquisition of war material from the US and Israel, a circumstance that worries Spain.
All this implies that Morocco feels stronger in relation to all its neighbours, with whom it maintains tense relations, while the European Union is becoming an inoperative entity precisely due, as has been indicated, to the fact that neither has nor wants to have a common policy in the interest of Europe as a whole.