Algerian foreign ministry unilaterally postponed a planned visit by Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez in what appears as a reaction to Spain’s support for the Moroccan position on the Sahara issue.
Spain has recently taken stands that Morocco welcomed and has abstained from expressing support to the referendum option for the area, which the UN has failed to organize because of its unfeasibility in view of disagreements over who should vote.
Spain also agreed to negotiate maritime borders, including those off the Sahara, with Morocco in another indication of Spanish realism towards the Sahara issue. Moreover, Spain never recognized the Polisario self-proclaimed SADR republic as a state.
Just over the weekend, the Spanish government has rebuked its Podemos member Nacho Alvarex who, surfing against the tide of his government, committed the blunder of expressing support to the Polisario on his personal Twitter after he received a Polisario delegation.
The above are but a small part in a series of blows suffered by the Algerian pro-separatist diplomacy as it continues to stumble amid domestic unrest and dwindling influence on the back of a looming financial crisis triggered by rapidly shrinking oil revenues.
The Algerian foreign ministry gave a rude excuse for the postponement of the new Spanish foreign minister’s visit, saying that foreign minister Sabri Boukaddoum will be busy on the day of her visit attending a presidential meeting.
EL Confidential and other Spanish papers interpreted the move as a reaction by Algiers to the close ties between Spain and Morocco. Spanish foreign minister said during her visit to Rabat last month that Morocco is a “source of stability in the region.”
As Morocco accumulates diplomatic gains on the Sahara issue with the increase in African states opening consulates in the southern provinces, the Algerian diplomacy protested as it sees itself left by the train of African states that come to terms to view the conflict as a relic of the cold-war and as an issue perpetuated by Algerian money to unsettle Morocco.
Côte d’Ivoire was the latest country to open a consulate in Laayoune bringing its support for Morocco’s territorial integrity to a consular level. The move irked Algiers so bad that it recalled its ambassador to Abidjan for “consultation”.
The Comoros, Gabon, Central African Republic, and Sao Tome and Principe have also opened consulates in Laayoune in addition to Gambia and Guinea, which chose to open their consulates in Dakhla.