Government dodges opposition criticism of CNI reports to save relationship with Morocco

The government evades the issue less than 24 hours before the reopening of borders takes place. Sánchez gave the order to his closest ministers to shield the relationship with Rabat.

Morocco has been exerting all possible pressure on Spain to add the support of Pedro Sánchez to the autonomy plan for Western Sahara. The conclusion reached by the CNI was revealed to Moncloa, according to information published this Monday by El País, although the Executive will hardly recognize what the opposition, and even some of the parties allied to the PSOE, describe as “blackmail”. Tomorrow, Tuesday, Rabat and Madrid are expected to advance in the reopening of the borders, one of the priority objectives of the Sánchez government. This step supposes the normalization of the bilateral link, which involved months of work by the Moroccan and Spanish FMs and the commitment of José Manuel Albares not to unnecessarily provoke his strategic neighbor with actions such as welcoming members of POLISARIO. The disconcerting turn of the government on Western Sahara would have come after Morocco pressured Sánchez through the entry of thousands of immigrants in May 2021, an unspoken issue that now has the endorsement of the secret services. But from the Executive they did nothing more than evade the issue, and with it, make the rumors grow. The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, maintained that “what the CNI does is of a secret nature and no statement can be made” about the matter. Robles also did not clarify whether the CNI gave specific information about the espionage to Sánchez and several ministers – including herself – with the Israeli Pegasus software, which Rabat would have used to intercept the communications of French President Emmanuel Macron and Algerian civil and military officials. Sánchez’s order to his team is to shield the relationship with Morocco: there is no longer room for a sustained conflict with Morocco. The same response from Robles is the one given by Félix Bolaños and Fernando Grande-Marlaska, although the Minister of the Interior was encouraged to describe relations with Rabat as “very important, loyalty, reliability and fraternity”. It is understandable why, since Marlaskaoversees monitoring the border reopening process. However, no issue leaves Sánchez as isolated as the link with the Moroccan government. As several PSOE cadres have recognized in off, Sánchez has not been able to explain the change of position on Western Sahara and has generated annoyance about it. The same happens between nationalist formations and those of the left. The right is concerned about how it could affect the relationship with Algeria and the negotiating capacity of “sanchismo”, that is, how much pressure it will be able to resist in the future. And the issue sneaks up again when Sánchez negotiates with the PP for the extension of the anti-crisis plan and with Unidas Podemos the tax on large fortunes and other points on the social agenda. Lastly, the government spokesperson and Minister of Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodríguez, said on Monday that the relaunch of the bilateral relationship translates into a more favorable situation in Ceuta, Melilla, Andalusia, and the Canary Islands, in an effort that involves practically all the departments of the Executive. When Sánchez appears before the Lower Chamber this Wednesday, he will hardly be able to hide the details of the agreement with Morocco from the deputies. And if he does, doubts will only fuel speculation.
(07.06 La Politica Online)

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