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Algeria suspends cooperation treaty with Spain over shift in Western Sahara stance

June 9, 2022 at 9:51 am

People stage a demonstration demanding the freedom of Western Sahara at Sol square, in Madrid, Spain on November 13, 2021. [ Burak Akbulut – Anadolu Agency]

Algeria has with “immediate effect” ended its 20-year-old cooperation treaty with Spain after Madrid reversed its long-standing policy of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict in March by backing Morocco’s position.

“Algeria has decided to immediately suspend the treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation” signed with Madrid in 2002, the Algerian presidency said in a statement reported by the Algerian news agency APS.

“The current Spanish government has given its full support to the illegal and illegitimate form of internal autonomy advocated by the occupying power, and has worked to promote a colonial fait accompli using spurious arguments,” it added.

The Algerian presidency indicated that the Spanish government’s position is inconsistent with its international responsibility as the “administrating power” in Western Sahara which contributes to further deterioration in the Western Sahara and the entire region.

Madrid changed its position on the Western Sahara conflict in favour of Rabat in mid-March, throwing its support behind the autonomy project proposed by Morocco to resolve this conflict.

READ: Algeria concludes live ammunition night drills on Morocco, Western Sahara border

Morocco has been in conflict with the Polisario Front over the Western Sahara since 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

The 1991 ceasefire came to an end last year after Morocco resumed military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which the Polisario said was a provocation.

The issue of Western Sahara has caused growing tensions between Morocco and Algeria, with the latter being accused of supporting the Front’s separatist ambitions.

Morocco, which claims the Western Sahara as its own, agreed to re-establish ties with Israel in 2020, as part of the Abraham Accords, part of which included US-recognition of the kingdom’s sovereignty over the territory.

Last year Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Rabat, citing “a series of hostile attitudes and trends”. Diplomatic tensions have also emerged between Spain and Algeria, after the former shifted its position by supporting Morocco’s “autonomy plan” for Western Sahara. Algeria has recently threatened to cut its gas supplies to Spain if it re-exports them to Morocco.