The Spanish-Moroccan “Crisis” and the Future of Euro-Med Relations: Farce or Harbinger of Things to Come?
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At first glance, the Spanish-Moroccan confrontation over an uninhabited rock outcropping, 200 meters off the Moroccan Mediterranean coast, seems like something conjured up from a Marx Brothers movie. However, the triggering of nationalist passions on both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar, the speedy support by the two countries’ respective allies (the European Union for Spain, and the Arab and Islamic states, apart from Algeria, for Morocco), and the swift and decisive flexing of Spanish naval muscle, indicate that there is more to the matter than initially meets the eye. The fact that both countries have agreed to an American-brokered stand-down and initiated a round of high-level diplomacy is a tribute to mutual good sense. Nonetheless, the brief storm clouds over what Spain calls Isla de Perejil (Parsley Island) and Morocco calls Leila (Night), just when Morocco was officially celebrating the marriage of its King, serves as a reminder of how contentious Spanish-Moroccan relations have become in recent years.
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