12th RAN in Rabat: Summit of EU gendarmes and oppressors of the Saharawi people

By Rubén Tzanoff

On February 1 and 2, a new edition of the High Level Meeting (HLM) between Spain and Morocco will take place. They will try to advance on an agenda for diplomatic reconciliation, to strengthen border repression of the imperialist bloc, to make millionaire deals and to continue with the plunder and oppression of the people in the Saharawi territories. The ISL supports the demand for the self-determination of Western Sahara and promotes the unity of the peoples mobilized against the oppressors and exploiters. 

Partners that go back and forth

The Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Morocco are strategic partners with complex relations. They held their last summit in 2015 and projected the next one for 2020, but Morocco unilaterally suspended it. Uneasiness was brewing and led to a crisis in April 2021, when Spain welcomed the Sahrawi leader Brahim Gali on a humanitarian basis, to be treated for Covid-19 in a hospital in Logroño. Morocco found it inappropriate for Spain to receive Gali at a time when it was seeking international support for its plan for Saharawi autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. The rift lasted for more than a year and ended with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, taking office.

Re-establishing relations

Reconciliation began to brew when Pedro Sanchez abandoned the historic Spanish position for self-determination and backed the invaders’ autonomous solution. In April 2022, Pedro Sanchez and Mohamed VI organized the new stage of relations with a friendly meeting in Rabat. In this way, the “progressive coalition” government PSOE-Unidas Podemos aligned itself behind the governments of the US, Germany and France which expressed their consent to the autonomy plan presented by Mohamed VI.

The Spanish turn was questioned in the Congress and repudiated in the streets of the main Spanish cities, where solidarity mobilizations with the Sahara took place. Faced with the new situation in the Maghreb, Algeria expressed its political discomfort and reduced trade with Spain by 90%, without altering the gas supply.

Repression and businesses in common

The rapprochement has multiple manifestations. The Moroccan security forces have fully resumed their role as gendarme on the southern border of the EU. In Melilla, with Spanish connivance, they killed at least 37 people. During 2022 they increased repression on the African migratory routes that pass through Moroccan territory on their way to Spain (Canary Islands, Strait of Gibraltar and Andalusian Mediterranean coast) strangling the flow of people by 26%. Trade relations also regained momentum, approaching 10 billion euros per year.

Complicity in international forums

At the last UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR41), most speakers avoided pointing out Morocco’s failure to respect human rights. And in the European Parliament, the PSOE voted against a motion pointing to Qatar and Morocco as responsible for bribing MEPs in exchange for projecting a good image of their countries. The former Socialist minister and current MEP, Juan Fernando López-Aguilar, referred to this attitude openly: “You have to swallow anything if necessary”.

From political gestures to sealed agreements

Before the beginning of the RAN, Mohamed VI and Pedro Sanchez had a telephone conversation predicting the success of the meeting, although it was not confirmed whether the Moroccan king will receive the Spanish president. According to previous announcements, the large delegations of ministers and businessmen who will accompany President Pedro Sanchez and Prime Minister Aziz Ajanuch, will try to sign about twenty agreements and a joint declaration. They will address issues such as police cooperation on immigration, the timetable for the opening of customs in Ceuta and Melilla, the strengthening of economic relations and the awarding of infrastructure projects. Spanish authorities said: “We are laying the foundations to advance towards a definitive fit that overcomes the periodic and recurring crises”.

With one eye on the EU and the other on the elections

Sánchez’s summits and his entire policy have a binocular vision. With one eye he looks at the postulation to become one of the leaders of the EU, in which Spain will assume the rotating presidency in the middle of the year. And with the other eye he looks at the complicated panorama he will face in the internal elections towards the end of 2023, in the face of which he flirts with right-wing sectors hostile to the self-determination of peoples and African migrants. 

A people standing up

Morocco’s diplomatic achievements are based on the complicity of the imperialist powers, of the UN and on a serious betrayal of the Arab peoples: the recognition of the State of Israel in exchange for political, financial and military support. In any case, they have not succeeded in breaking the Saharawi people and the youth who continue to demand the referendum of self-determination, even if MINURSO intends to bury it.

At the same time, according to the publication Ecsaharaui, the XVI Congress of the Polisario Front (PF), held in January 2023, decided to intensify the war for the recovery of the occupied territories. It renewed plans to improve the educational and social bases that strengthen the unity of the people, elected the leaders for the next period and reposed confidence in Brahim Ghali as secretary general of the Polisario Front and president of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Free Sahara, a just cause that needs support

The 12th RAN is repudiatory. It sets itself the following objectives: to deepen border repression, to resume the rhythm of “hot returns” which violate human rights, to carry out millionaire business deals and to advance the anti-Saharawi autonomy plan. The International Socialist League (ISL) denounces the violation of human rights, calls on the peoples of the world to support the Saharawi cause and encourages the unity of the mobilized African and Arab peoples. The demand for the right to self-determination of Western Sahara and Palestine is inextricably linked to the mobilization for a fundamental solution: the rule of the workers and the people in a socialist system.