Sunday. 26.06.2022
FOREIGN RELATIONS

Algeria withdraws ambassador to Spain in row over Western Sahara

Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until 1975 but after Spain's withdrawal, Morocco annexed parts of the territory, located on the Atlantic coast of north-west Africa
10 December 2020, Spain, Madrid: A protester holds the Sahrawi flag during a demonstration in front of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in support of Sahrawi people and for the self-determination of Western Saharan. Photo: Diego Radames/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa
A protest in front of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in support of the Western Sahara self-determination. Photo: Diego Radames/dpa/File photo.

Algeria withdrew its ambassador to Spain on Saturday in protest against Madrid's concession to Morocco in the long-running territorial dispute over Western Sahara.

Ambassador Said Musi was called back "for consultations," Spanish state broadcaster RTVE reported, citing a statement from the Algerian Foreign Ministry. Algiers reportedly wrote that it is "very surprised by the abrupt turnaround in the attitude of the former administrative power of Western Sahara."

On Friday, the Moroccan Royal Palace announced that the Spanish government had for the first time conceded that Western Sahara could be an autonomous province under Moroccan sovereignty as proposed by Rabat.

Shortly afterwards, Madrid hailed the beginning of a "new phase" in relations with Morocco that would be based on mutual respect and ensure the stability and territorial integrity of both countries.

Western Sahara, claimed by Morocco as its own, was a Spanish colony until 1975. After Spain's withdrawal, Morocco annexed parts of the territory, located on the Atlantic coast of north-west Africa. Rabat has since controlled large parts of the sparsely populated but resource-rich desert region.

It is home to the Polisario Front movement, which is striving for an independent state in Western Sahara. Battles have repeatedly erupted between Polisario Front and Moroccan forces in the dispute.

Algeria supports Polisario

Morocco's claim to the territory is not internationally recognized.

Algeria supports the Polisario Front and is Spain's most important gas supplier.

The Spanish announcement has not only been criticized in Algiers, however.

The conservative opposition in Madrid (People's Party, PP) has strongly come out against the decision by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, and even his leftist coalition partner Unidas Podemos (UP) has expressed opposition.

Algeria withdraws ambassador to Spain in row over Western Sahara
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