Algeria suspends cooperation with Spain over Western Sahara | Political news

Spain says it “regrets” Algiers’ decision which comes after Madrid publicly acknowledged Morocco’s autonomy plan for the disputed territory in March.

Algeria is “immediately” suspending a two-decade-old friendship treaty with Spain after Madrid overturned decades of neutrality in the Western Sahara dispute.

It is the latest blow to the increasingly fragile relationship between Algiers and Madrid, which depends on Algeria for its natural gas supply.

“Algeria has decided to immediately suspend the treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation” signed with Madrid in 2002, the presidency announced in a press release on Wednesday.

The Spanish government said it regretted Algeria’s decision and reaffirmed its commitment to the friendship treaty.

“The Spanish government considers Algeria a friendly neighboring country and reaffirms its total will to maintain and develop the special cooperative relationship between our two countries, for the benefit of the peoples of both,” said a statement from the Spanish Ministry of Affairs. foreign.

The Algerian statement said Spain was abusing its role as “administering power” in Western Sahara until the United Nations resolved the decades-old situation over the status of the vast mineral-rich territory.

It therefore “contributes directly to the deterioration of the situation in Western Sahara and in the region”, the president’s office said.

People hold Western Sahara flags as they listen to speeches during a protest [File: Francisco Seco/AP]

Wednesday’s decision reflects Spain’s complex challenge of balancing relations with arch-rivals Morocco and Algeria, which in August last year severed diplomatic relations with Rabat over “hostile acts”.

Morocco controls 80% of Western Sahara.

The rest are held by the Algerian-backed Polisario movement, which fought a 15-year war with Morocco after Spanish forces withdrew in 1975 and is demanding an independence referendum.

Morocco has offered limited autonomy but insists the phosphate- and fishing-rich territory must remain under its sovereignty.

Spain formally endorsed the stance in March to help resolve a year-long diplomatic dispute after it admitted Polisario leader Ibrahim Ait Ghali was being treated for COVID-19.

Gas supply threatened?

Algeria is one of Spain’s main gas suppliers and should review the prices of any new gas contracts with Spanish companies, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency.

The current gas contract with Spain is long-term, with prices well below current market levels, said the source, who asked not to be identified.

Appearing in parliament earlier on Wednesday and urged by the opposition to resolve the simmering diplomatic crisis with Algeria and the potential rise in gas prices, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez refrained from commenting, reiterating only that the change of position on Western Sahara was a serious and realistic step.

Spain’s foreign minister said on Wednesday there were no signs that Algeria might take any action affecting its gas supply to Spain.

The Algerian government is a reliable partner and has given Spain the highest level of guarantees regarding its gas supply, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told reporters when asked if Algeria could now adopt measures against Spain regarding gas and migration issues.

Comments are closed.