FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Rising Tensions Between Spain and Morocco

A tiny island, “Perejil” for the Spaniards, and Leila for the Moroccans, have come to the forefront of news for the last few days. For many, this is an alarm bell since it resembles very much like England and Argentina’s scuffle on Falkland Island years ago.

This disputed island that both Spain and Morocco claim to be their own, is interestingly an uninhabited, tiny island, about 200 meters off Morocco’s coast, and its diameter is less than a kilometer. The incident began a few days back, when Morocco sent few of its soldiers to this remote island officially stating its purpose of the all encompassing fight against terrorism and drug and immigration trafficking. Spain protested immediately, and European Union followed the suit. The European Union called the tiny island as the EU territory; they even uttered the threat of harsh sanctions against Morocco if it didn’t withdraw from the islet immediately.

This is one of the rarest moments for the EU, “the EU’s position underscores its progress away from the notion that it consists of a mere trading bloc toward the idea of a political entity, with a single territory and common borders which separate its members as a single political unit from third countries. The idea of common EU borders, on which Greece _ a typical border country _ has long insisted, is now being adopted in practice: Even a disputed, rugged rock which is very near the coastline of a third country is still European territory. Disputing its territorial integrity prompted a common EU response and unreserved solidarity with the individual member state.” [3]

International Herald Tribunal also notes, “The European reaction in the Perejil crisis is not, of course, a huge advance in terms of political unification. Such a development would presuppose a solid consensus over the commonality of vital interests and the existence of European bodies which would define who the common “enemy” is and decide on a single response. Even though the EU is still far from reaching this point, its insistence on a single European territory and common borders is still substantial progress.” [3]

EU’s economic threat is very much real for Morocco, “about three-quarters of Morocco’s exports went to the EU last year, generating $6.2 billion.” [6]

On the Morocco’s side, a predominantly Muslim state, the old “Moors” by the Pravda columnist [4], the Arab nations expressed their full solidarity on its claim of the island. Morocco’s foreign minister referred to the historical documents dating back to 1860, said, “islet Leila has always been an integral part of the Moroccan territory” and that no Spanish official document referred to it as being part of Spain. [5]

Spain countered Morocco’s claim, in which it also sited other larger enclaves in the region, namely, Ceuta and Melilla, “the status of Ceuta and Melilla is not up for discussion, Palacio said. Spain’s centuries-old rule over the two enclaves is “undisputed and indisputable,” she said. [5]

This dispute goes centuries back during the time of Spanish and French colonial rules in Africa. When the Spanish and French colonial rules came to an end, they relinquished all their claims from their “North African Possessions”, French and Spain signed a treaty in 1956, in which Spain retained the rights of Ceuta and Melilla. However, Morocco always strongly disputed on the status of these islands, claiming historical documents that they belong to Morocco.

“The latest row comes as Madrid is locked in complicated negotiations with Britain aimed at sharing sovereignty over the disputed colony of Gibraltar on Spain’s southern coast, and visible from the Moroccan coast.” [5]

Today, July 17, Spain sent its troops, and taken the control of the disputed island forcefully, though previously it claimed it would apply diplomatic pressure on Morocco, prompting the anticipated Moroccan protests, “The Moroccan government urges the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Spanish forces,” the statement read. “The island is an integral part of Moroccan territory.” [2]

Though the colonial rules are supposedly ended many years from now, the ghosting remnants from that ignominious era are still haunting world politics, it seems.

References:

1. “Beware the Diplomatic Storm Brewing in the Mediterranean”, The Independent, July 17, 2002.

2. “Morocco wants Spanish Forces Out”, Yahoo News, July 17, 2002.

3. Kathimerini, “All for One”, The International Herald Tribune, July 16, 2002.

4. Vasity Bubnov, “Spaniards Recaptures the Islands from the Moors”, Pravda July 17, 2002.

5. “Morocco, Spain still at loggerheads over Ceuta”, Jordan Times, July 16, 2002.

6. “Island is Integral Part of Morocco, Rabat Insists” Associated Press, July 16, 2002.

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) can be reached at: shomudrok@hotmail.com

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
Frank Joyce
Will the Constitution Fail Again?
Pete Dolack
Claims that the ‘NAFTA 2’ Agreement is Better are a Macabre Joke
Andrew Levine
Biden Daze
Vijay Prashad
Not an Inch: Indian Students Stand Against the Far Right
Ramzy Baroud
Sealed Off and Forgotten: What You Should Know about Israel’s ‘Firing Zones’ in the West Bank
Norman Solomon
Not Bernie, Us. Not Warren, Us. Their Clash Underscores the Need for Grassroots Wisdom
Ted Rall
America’s Long History of Meddling in Russia
David Rosen
The Irregulators vs. FCC: the Trial Begins
Jennifer Matsui
The Krown
Joseph Natoli
Resolutions and Obstacles/2020
Sarah Anderson
War Profiteering is Real
James McFadden
The Business Party Syndicate
Ajamu Baraka
Trump Prosecutors Make Move to Ensure that Embassy Protectors are Convicted
David Swanson
CNN is Trash
Rev. William Alberts
Finally a Christian Call for Trump’s Removal
Dave Lindorff
The ERA Just Got Ratified by Virginia, the Needed 38th State!
W. T. Whitney
Mexico Takes Action on Coup in Bolivia and on CELAC
Steve Early
How General Strike Rhetoric Became a Reality in Seattle 
Jessicah Pierre
Learning From King’s Last Campaign
Mark Dickman
Saint Greta and the Dragon
Jared Bernstein - Dean Baker
Reducing the Health Care Tax
Clark T. Scott
Uniting “Progressives” Instead of Democrats
Nilofar Suhrawardy
Trump & Johnson: What a Contrast, Image-wise!
Ron Jacobs
Abusing America’s Children—Free Market Policy
George Wuerthner
Mills Are Being Closed by National Economic Trends, Not Environmental Regulations
Basav Sen
Nearly All Americans Want Off of Fossil Fuels
Mark Ashwill
Playing Geopolitical Whack-a-Mole: The Viet Nam Flag Issue Revisited
Jesse Jackson
New Hope for One of America’s Poorest Communities
Binoy Kampmark
Harry and Meghan Exit: The Royal Family Propaganda Machine
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again!
Rob Okun
A Call to Men to join Women’s March
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
We All Need to Be Tree Huggers Now
Tom Stephens
The New York Times’ Delusions of Empire
Julian Rose
Fake-Green Zero Carbon Fraud
Louis Proyect
The Best Films of 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: Into Kosovo
Colin Todhunter
Gone Fishing? No Fish but Plenty of Pesticides and a Public Health Crisis
Julian Vigo
Can New Tech Replace In-Class Learning?
Gaither Stewart
The Bench: the Life of Things
Nicky Reid
Trannies with Guns: Because Enough is Enough!
James Haught
Baby Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark
David Yearsley
Brecht in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail