Stirring Up Discord Could Hinder Restoration Of Relations Between Algeria And Spain
Algeria’s appointment of a new ambassador to the Spanish capital does not mean that relations between Algeria and Madrid have been restored to health, as indicated by the formation of the new government of Pedro Sanchez, announced only four days after the parliament approved his presidency of the executive branch.
Sanchez’s new government includes one of the names strongly rejected in Algeria, described as “the instigator of discord (Fitna),” and he is the former Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albarez, as the architect of the escalation of the crisis that struck relations between the two countries last spring. He was the one who each time added fuel to the fire of disagreement between the two countries.
According to the Spanish newspaper “El Independiente”, the reassignment of the former Foreign Minister to the same portfolio was met with opposition from Pedro Sanchez’s main partner in the government, represented by the “SUMAR” coalition, and the reason is due to the peculiarity of his personality, which caused disagreements within the government during the previous term. This is against the backdrop of “the historic change in the Spanish position on the Western Sahara issue, which has become unprecedentedly biased in favor of the Moroccan regime,” as well as the so-called Russian “aggression” against Ukraine and the barbaric Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip.
Those who opposed Albaris’s assumption of the Foreign Ministry demanded a “more conciliatory figure” from the ranks of the governing coalition, in the form of either Ernest Urtasun or Agustin Santos, with diplomatic experience, recalling what they described as “the hatred that Albaris has generated, linked to the change of position on the Western Sahara issue. Western countries do not share his opinion on the matter and even consider it to be “contrary to the historical position of Spain”.
What is noteworthy about this case is that Albarez’s reassignment to the Foreign Ministry was preceded by a Moroccan maneuver that represented the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants into the Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco, with the aim of crossing the border. About ten thousand migrants crossed the Spanish border in order to pressure the Spanish government to change its position on the Sahrawi issue, which happened later, which probably has something to do with Albarez’s return to his position.
In Algeria, Albarez is considered a “fomentor of discord” and an “amateur diplomat,” according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry following his visit to Brussels to urge the European Union to put pressure on Algeria: “He compared the Spanish foreign minister, who is constantly fanning the flames of the crisis, which is possible in the eyes of everyone on both sides of the Mediterranean, avoiding it would go in the complete opposite direction of the wise and calm approach adopted by Algeria as a pivotal country and stabilizing factor, aware of its regional responsibilities and a prominent member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Spaniards also acknowledge his role in destroying relations with Algeria: “The letter leaked by the Moroccan royal court in March 2022, whose poor wording angered Spanish diplomats, had immediate consequences: a sudden rupture in relations with Algeria, Spain’s main gas partner at the time,” says the Spanish newspaper El Independiente, which accuses Albaris of being the main culprit for violating 47 years of Spain’s active neutrality in the conflict in its former colony, the last region in Africa to be decolonized.
The newspaper also spoke of Albaris’ involvement in “destroying the consensus of successive Popular Party and Socialist Workers’ Party governments on the issue of Western Sahara, in order to please Morocco, in the context of the worsening scandal of Pegasus spying on the cell phones of Sanchez and many of his ministers.
Based on all of the above, observers believe that José Manuel Albarez will not be able to visit Algeria, at least in the foreseeable future, because of the anger that has accumulated among Algerian officials regarding his management of the Sahrawi file, since Madrid has not made the leap it expected, which means that the economic sanctions imposed on it will continue indefinitely.