The diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Spain did not end with the departure of the Polisario leader, Brahim Ghali, to Algeria, nor with the repatriation of illegal immigrants who crossed the border fence in Ceuta to Morocco. Rather, it seems that there is another escalation on the horizon, related to an important economic resource for Spain.
It appears that Morocco is using pressure cards to respond to the latest developments and Madrid’s position on them.El MundoSpanish, that Morocco has suspended its negotiations to renew the concession of the gas pipeline between the Maghreb and Europe.
The Maghreb-Europe Pipeline (MEG), also known as the Pedro Duran Farell pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline that connects the Hassi R’Mel field in the Assa of southern Algeria via Morocco to Cordoba in Spain, where it connects with the Portugal and Spain gas network.
This line supplies both Spain, Portugal and Morocco with natural gas.
More than 30 percent of the natural gas consumed in Spain is transported through Morocco, according to the Euro-Maghreb Pipeline Limited website (EMPL).
The pipeline also helps Portugal receive its gas supplies from Algeria via Morocco.
In an unannounced escalation, the Spanish newspaper reported that King Mohammed VI decided to end negotiations on renewing the gas pipeline concession, which is due to expire in November.
site says “Morocco World NewsCommenting on that, “the decision came due to the continuing tension between Morocco and Spain and Algeria’s complicity with Madrid to help Ghali travel to a Spanish hospital for treatment.”
If the news is confirmed, Morocco’s announced decision to halt negotiations on the renewal of the gas pipeline between the Maghreb and Europe will be the second such action taken by the Kingdom against Spain.
After threatening not to coordinate security with Spain and not play the role of the “gendarmerie” in the illegal immigration file, Morocco decided to take an actual step against Spain’s interests, by excluding its ports from the “Welcome 2021” process, which is an annual plan organized by the Moroccan government to welcome millions of Moroccans coming to spend the summer vacation.
Observers described the decision to exclude Spanish ports from the Moroccan operation as a reaction to Spain’s decision to allow Polisario leader Ibrahim Ghali to leave its territory.
Rabat had insisted that the failure to hold the Polisario leader accountable for the “charges of genocide and mass murder” he faced during a virtual hearing before a court in Spain “could decisively harm relations between Spain and Morocco.”
Moroccan political analyst Khaled Al-Shayat believes that the biggest loser in economic relations between Europe and Morocco on the one hand, and between Europe and Algeria on the other, is both Algeria and Morocco.
In an interview with Al-Hurra website, Al-Shayat justified this by saying, “Europe will not lose its relations with us because it negotiated as a united bloc while we are divided,” referring to Morocco and Algeria.
Morocco, according to the same analyst, is no longer reaping significant profits from this pipeline, and he said, “During the Corona epidemic, we only earned about $51 million, which is a very small amount, in his view.
Spanish experts told El Mundo newspaper that “the transit of gas through Morocco is important, but it is no longer decisive” after the government of Jose Maria Aznar (1996-2004) promoted a new gas pipeline directly linking Algeria and Spain.
The new direct gas pipeline is called “Medgas”.
And the newspaper went on, quoting some experts, “even if Morocco decides not to extend the concession and stop the passage of gas through that infrastructure, the supply from Spain is guaranteed.”
But Al-Shayat pointed out that Algeria, by creating this new pipeline, tried to bypass “any pressure that Morocco could exert against it in particular,” which is evidence and jurisprudence that confirms the unilateral view that Algeria began with, and now the Maghreb countries are paying the price, especially Morocco and Algeria itself.
And the arrival of Ghali to Spain with “his life in danger” and in complete secrecy on April 18 on a medical plane that the Algerian presidency put at his disposal, according to the Spanish newspaper “El Pais”, sparked a major crisis between Madrid and Morocco.
In response to the reception of the man whom Rabat considers a “war criminal”, the Moroccan forces slackened in monitoring the border with Ceuta, which gave way to an unprecedented wave of immigration.
After that, the two sides exchanged sharp statements, forcing the European Union to adopt a resolution accusing the Kingdom of using minor migrants as a “tool for political pressure”, which the Kingdom denied.
It seems that the pipeline that “El Mundo” talked about will document a new era in Moroccan-Spanish relations, in the event that it is proven that the Kingdom will not renew the concession for the passage of Algerian gas through its territory.