It is well known that the president of the United States has great autonomy and powers in foreign policy, as well as continuity in international policy between outgoing and incoming governments. Trump’s recognition of the Moroccan status of Western Sahara (the southern provinces) was going to bind Biden, without the latter inheriting an unacceptable decision, but rather, as it turned out, a perfectly valid one. They conformed to the legal framework and custom. This is not at all the case in Spain. For many years I have been a convinced supporter of Western Sahara’s belonging to Morocco, culture and history aside, because of the overwhelming convenience, at least from an anti-totalitarian point of view. The militaristic totalitarianism of the Polisario is not the same as a constitutional and plural monarchy like Morocco.
Pedro Sánchez’s recognition of Morocco’s territoriality over the Sahara, far from strengthening Morocco in Spain’s eyes, has weakened it once again in the eyes of public opinion and political parties. I do not think there have ever been more tortuous relations, not conflicts or occasional disagreements, than those between Pedro Sánchez and the Kingdom of Morocco.
I heard Aznar make a reflection that I consider very interesting to comment on, as it is legally well-founded and worrying from the point of view of the development of the Moroccan thesis on the Sahara:
- The recognition decision was made by a letter made public by Morocco, not simultaneously according to international practice.
- It was not proposed, discussed and approved by the Council of Ministers.
- It was not debated and voted on in the Spanish Parliament either.
- The Spanish head of state was not informed.
Aznar concluded by indicating that it would only bind its author: Pedro Sánchez. By not having any intervention before the representative bodies of the Spanish state, such as the Council of Ministers (the president is the president of the Council of Ministers), the Parliament and the head of state. These issues are easy to see if you have a strategic vision of politics.
A sum of bungling that links up perfectly with the Brahim Ghali case, the Spanish minister interposed by Sánchez, the Moroccan ambassador to Spain, and other derivations and nonsense. Sánchez’s lightness, despotism, unpredictability and irresponsibility cannot be taken seriously.
Subsequently, I heard Núñez Feijóo announce that any decision on the Sahara must be made in accordance with legal procedures and guarantees, that is, with respect for and submission to the law. This would make the decisions solid and irrevocable. This is how the foundations for frank, secure and solid friendly relations are really built.
With the Sahara issue, they have managed to ensure that those in favour of Morocco, such as Rodríguez Zapatero and Sánchez, do not represent the left in this particular matter, and at the same time they have managed to turn against those who would be more inclined to Morocco’s thesis, which is undoubtedly the right. In other words, a rounded deal: alienating Spanish public opinion from Moroccan (and other countries’) theses, by the action of the most discredited Spanish president of Spanish democracy. Something Morocco should have counted on.
Not only do they both dissociate themselves from the policies of their parties, traditionally sympathetic to the Polisario Front, without any political work to justify and persuade a new policy of engagement with Morocco, but having been Prime Ministers, they have maintained policies towards their own country that are totally antithetical to those advocated for Morocco.
- For them the unity and territorial integrity of Spain is not a value to be upheld unconditionally, as is always the case with national unity.
- They do not believe in the substantivity and integrity of the Spanish nation. For Rodríguez Zapatero, “the Spanish nation is a disputed and debatable concept”, and “nation of nations” was another concept.
- The specific policies they have defended and which question the territorial and institutional unity of Spain have been the following: in the case of Rodríguez Zapatero, he indicated with insurmountable irresponsibility that he would validate the reform of the Catalan Statute approved by the Catalan Parliament, regardless of its place in the Spanish institutional system. The Constitutional Court would later rule that the Statute was unconstitutional on essential issues, generating great political frustration, which would explode with the events of 2017 in Catalonia.
Pedro Sánchez has often shown himself to be in favour of a “dialogue table”, which would include his own party and its parliamentary partners, the Catalan pro-independence supporters, and which would not include either the Spanish right or the non-nationalist Catalans. And it would also be outside constitutional limits.