Morocco raises stakes over Spanish possessions

The confrontation over the rocky outcrop of Parsley Island seems to have left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Moroccan authorities in Rabat: Morocco classifies the Spanish presence in Ceuta and Melilla as “occupation” and “anachronistic colonialism”.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohammed Benaissa declared in the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday that “the situation of the occupied cities is an anachronistic colonial fact from the beginning of the sixteenth century” and demanded a “responsible, serene and constructive dialogue” with Madrid.

Spain used its right of reply to state that “the cities of Ceuta and Melilla are an integral part of Spanish territory, whose citizens are represented in the Spanish parliament, have the same rights and freedoms and are protected by the same juridical order”.

Morocco raised the stakes by linking this issue to that of cooperation between the Maghreb block (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya) with the European Union. Mohammed Benaissa said that it is “necessary to preserve the stability and peace in the region especially at a time when the international community confronts greater security challenges”.

The conflict over Parsley island, when Spanish commandos stormed the rocky outcrop tens of metres from the Moroccan coast, after a detail of Moroccan policemen had landed, ostensibly to make sure the island was not used by drugs dealers, was described by the Moroccan Foreign Minister as “against the logic of peace and stability in the region, doing nothing to serve the interests of the two countries and the two peoples”.

These declarations come after angry crowds of Moroccans demonstrated their hostility to Spain, while religious fanatics called for a Jihad to free Moslem lands from the infidel.

On the issue of Western Sahara, Morocco was more evasive. Rabat wants a regime of increased autonomy for the region, whereas the POLISARIO want complete independence for the Western Sahara. When the issue was raised, Rabat declared that it would cooperate with the UNO special envoy James Bakeras on the issue.


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