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The word in Madrid these days is that the Spanish prime minister is very satisfied with his policy shift towards Morocco, which has elevated him to the status of an interlocutor for Mohammed VI at the expense of sacrificing the Sahrawi people. Although not a single party supports him in the Congress of Deputies - even his Unidas Podemos coalition partners have been protesting at the doors of the Cortes in defence of Western Sahara's right to be an independent state - Pedro Sánchez, who has sacrificed many others and much closer to home, has found in his renunciation of all the UN resolutions and the change of approach from his predecessors as far back as Adolfo Suarez, a playing field in international geopolitics.

We will see if he ends up fooling Algeria or not, who found out about the Spanish change of policy from the newspapers, in which they were able to read that phrase so submissive to Moroccan interests: "Spain considers the Moroccan proposal for autonomy presented in 2007 as the most serious, credible and realistic basis for resolving this disagreement." The official message on accepting Moroccan expansionism in 22 words. Mohammed VI has gained a position of power that he did not have and, as a sign of gratitude, he has already spoken by telephone with the Spanish PM and invited him to visit, an invitation which has been accepted and will become reality very soon. It is positive for Spain and Morocco to have a good relationship, bearing in mind that disagreements are a constant and that Moroccans are great experts in generating moments of tension that usually need financial compensation to get the solution on track. But the toll that Sánchez has paid is disproportionate and, in terms of the historical commitment to the Sahara, it is understandable that there it is seen as a betrayal.

But in international politics, every move has consequences and Algeria is changing its tone day by day. The announcement by the country's foreign ministry that "it is clear that Algeria will review all agreements with Spain, and on all fronts, to see how the relationship evolves in the future" is more than just a warning. Especially when Algeria is the main exporter of gas to Spain and covers 40% of its needs, well ahead of the United States, which supplies 19%. With cumulative year-on-year inflation of 9.8% and rising energy prices, it is obvious that a sudden reaction from Algeria would deal a real blow to the Spanish economy.

Did Sánchez consider this possibility? Will US support be enough on such a fundamental issue? Perhaps the Spanish prime minister, being adept at short-term manoeuvres, saw in the invasion of Ukraine​ by Russia and the huge media impact that it naturally has, the moment to give carte blanche to Morocco to do whatever it wants with the Sahara. The other things, he would take care of later. But those other things came on the same day, from the surprise of Algeria to the outrage of a very important part of the Spanish political class and the left. And, in addition, the rampant inflation that is already beginning to cause major problems among the public. Maybe he wasn't so smart and now finds himself stuck. But, at least, his Moroccan friend will receive him with full honours at the palace, something he has never done before.



Translator's note: In both Spanish and Catalan, "the bear's embrace" (el abrazo del oso / l'abraçada de l'os) refers specifically to an apparent demonstration of affection that hides a trap.