1st Mar 2024

Nato criticises occupation of Perejil island

Nato criticised Morocco’s decision to send soldiers to the dispute island of Perejil as an “unfriendly action that disturbs the status quo” in the region, reports the Financial Times. Tensions broke out between Spain, which lays to claim to the island, and Morocco when Rabat sent a dozen troops to the uninhabited island.

However, Spain did not ask for military assistance when briefing the Lord Robertson, the secretary general, earlier this week.

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This would also seem scarcely necessary given the tiny size of the island and the now five Spanish warships that have been ordered to take position near Perejil and Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

In a further move, the Spanish government has recalled its ambassador to Morocco, writes the BBC. Fernando Arias Salgado was called home because for an indefinite period as Morocco had failed to respond to a letter sent by Madrid when Morocco first positioned the soldiers.

The Moroccan government has said it wants to resolve its differences with Spain “through dialogue.” The Spanish government, however, says the soldiers violate Spanish sovereignty while Morocco claims that the island, which lies just 200 meters from its shore, is part of its territory.

Whereas Nato has been quick to blame Morocco saying that Rabat has breached the 1991 Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbourhood and Co-operation, the Commission is starting to retreat from its earlier critical stance of Morocco, insisting that diplomats should be let do their work.

Mohamed Benaissa, Morocco’s foreign minister, has said that the reaction of both Spain and the European Union was too extreme, reports the BBC. His government is supported in this dispute by the 22-member Arab league.

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