Spain’s new position on Western Sahara rekindles Moroccan-Algerian tensions

People take part in a ‘Free Sahara’ rally in Madrid, Spain, March 30, 2022, to protest against the Spanish government’s recent decision to recognize Morocco’s autonomy plan for the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

(PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

The cold war between Morocco and Algeria will worsen as the former gains international support for its territorial claims in the disputed region of Western Sahara. The ongoing conflict will further damage Morocco’s economy, politically isolate Algeria and risk violent but largely low-level clashes near the border of the two North African countries. On March 18, Spain changed its position on the territorial dispute between Morocco and Algeria in Western Sahara by stating that it supported Morocco’s 2006 autonomy plan, which Rabat said would grant autonomy to the Sahrawi indigenous people but under Moroccan sovereignty. As a former participant in the Western Sahara conflict in the 1970s and as an economic partner of Morocco and Algeria, Spain is an important voice in the decades-long conflict over the African territory. Madrid’s decision could thus see more European countries change their diplomatic stance on Western Sahara. The latest economic, political and security aggravations between Morocco and Algeria also indicate both…