A forum devoted to current political, economic trends, and news of the Maghreb region.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stalemate in the Canary Islands

Still on the continuing Moroccan-Spanish crisis surrounding the staged hunger strike of Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar. Latest news suggests that Aminatou continues to refuse a second medical examination to assess her health. Both Spain and Morocco are facing mounting pressure amidst several reports of Haidar's deteriorating health at Lanzarote Airport in the Canary Islands. The blogosphere is buzzing about the Haidar affair with several strongly condemning the Moroccan intransigence and Spanish alleged connivance with their southern neighbors, especially from pro-secession blogs.

It is clear that Morocco will continue to press its position amidst sheepish support from some in the EU and an overwhelming political and popular support, judging from comments on Moroccan press sites and blogs. However, if Haidar's health continues to worsen leading to her death, Morocco would find itself in a tight spot with Spain and the international community.

Haidar’s sit-in and hunger strike have already generated intense press coverage in Europe and the Maghreb. The Spanish Press has claimed that Morocco planned for the expulsion of Haidar even before she arrived in La'ayoune on November 13th. Thus, Haidar's alleged renunciation of her citizenship was just a pretext to get her expelled from Morocco.

The stalemate is embarrassing to Spain as well, since the events are unfolding within its territory sparking a fervent debate among the political elite in the kingdom. The socialist-led government of PM Zapatero is ardently looking for a swift resolution of the problem. Some in Spain have even called for tough diplomatic measures against Morocco, which at this point, is holding true to Mohammed VI's new tough dichotomous line of either you are "a patriot or a traitor" on the issue of the Western Sahara. Unfortunately for Aminatou Haidar, she is considered to be in the latter category as she has been labeled by Moroccan press, state and political elite as a conspirator against Morocco's territorial integrity.

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