Spain’s decision to welcome the leader of the Polisario Front Ghali without saying so in Rabat has strained relations between the two countries.
Morocco has urged Spain to open an investigation into the circumstances of the arrival in the country of a pro-independence leader from Western Sahara to receive medical treatment and explain his findings in Rabat.
Madrid should explain “the conditions, circumstances and collusion that led to the fraudulent entry of this person through false documents and a usurped identity,” Foreign Ministry Director General Fouad Yazourh said on Saturday.
Spain’s decision to welcome the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, without saying so in Rabat while using what Morocco says are travel documents provided by Algeria and a false name, has infuriated Rabat, which considers the Western Sahara as part of Morocco.
The Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, seeks the independence of the region. Last year, he said he was resuming an armed struggle that was suspended by a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations in 1991, although there has been little evidence of fighting.
In December, the United States recognized Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara in an agreement that also included Rabat by strengthening its ties with Israel.
On Monday, Morocco seemed to relax border controls with the Spanish-North African enclave of Ceuta, causing thousands of people to cross over to what is actually European soil.
Rabat later blamed climate crossings and tired border guards, although analysts said he appeared to be linked to the diplomatic dispute with Madrid.
Ghali faces a subpoena in Spain in a war crimes case against him. However, the Spanish High Court has rejected a request from the plaintiffs in the case to arrest him.
Morocco recalled its ambassador to Spain for consultations this week and on Friday said relations between the two countries would worsen if Ghali left Spain without trial.
In April, Morocco summoned the Spanish ambassador to express his “exasperation” after Ghali was allowed to enter Spain. The Spanish Foreign Ministry said at the time that it had been allowed to enter the country for “strictly humanitarian reasons”.