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Morocco-Spain: ‘The other kingdom clinging to the remains of an obsolete empire’

François Soudan
By François Soudan
Editor-in-chief, Jeune Afrique

François Soudan is Editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique

Posted on Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:33

Demonstrators in the Green March march towards West Sahara. On 6 November 1975, 350,000 Moroccan volunteers peacefully occupied the Spanish Sahara. This symbolic gesture led to the departure of the Spanish and the restoration of part of the Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania. © Alain Nogues/Sygma via Getty Images

Relations between Morocco and Spain are highly subjective. It's the same situation with France, but in the case of Spain, it's the other kingdom clinging to the remains of an obsolete empire - Ceuta, Melilla and a handful of islets - like an oyster to the rock of Alhucemas.

Tensions between Rabat and Madrid are more acute than ever due to the closure of borders between Morocco and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the hospitalisation of the Polisario’s leader near Zaragoza and the migration crisis.

To better understand the crisis that broke out in April of this year between Rabat and Madrid, against a backdrop of migratory tensions and nationalist sentiment, it is important to have an appreciation of the two countries’ shared history.