Mohammed VI has given Pedro Sánchez what is known as the bear's embrace. The attitude of the Moroccan autocrat when Spain renounced its support for an independence referendum in its former colony Western Sahara, and broke a historical tradition of defending the interests of the Polisario Front, was described by the monarch as responsible, and he applauded the new Spanish position once it had assumed Morocco's dominion over the Sahara. With Spain's decision to abandon the Polisario Front still an open wound, Mohammed VI has now spoken out for the first time since the Spanish about-face and has done so by pointing out the weaknesses of Sánchez and praising the role of the United States and its administration, thus giving a clue as to where they must have taken the Spanish prime minister in this process.
The move that is already, without a doubt, the biggest strategic error in foreign policy of the Sánchez government, continues to generate a lot of talk and in the absence of convincing explanations from Madrid, what emerges is an enormous loss of influence and capacity in North Africa. It is clear that Mohammed VI will not settle for Western Sahara and that it is only a first step, once he has seen that positions that seemed immovable can be altered in a matter of days or weeks.
In addition, there is Algeria, which if it showed only anger at first, has now started baring its claws toward Spain. The pre-eminence that the Iberian Peninsula used to have in the purchase of gas has shifted to Italy, which has achieved an increase in the production it receives and a better price. Lord Palmerston's phrase that countries have no friends, only interests, has shown its relevance. So what is Spain's interest here? With the current energy crisis, the first objective should have been not to leave the Algerian flank exposed, and it has done just the opposite. So much so, that our dependence on gas sold to us by the United States has increased and the bill we are paying is much more expensive than before. But of course, if the Algerian tap turns off, we'll have to buy somewhere.
It remains highly surprising that it was with a Socialist government in power in Madrid that the United States was able to twist the Spanish arm towards listening to messages from Mohammed VI that are nothing short of a humiliation, which does nothing but prove that in the relationship between the two countries the pace is always set by Rabat. The Polisario Front is right when it points out that the monarch's words leave the Spanish position in a poor place. We will see how the Biden administration thanks Sánchez for the favour and it is all about, as has been hinted and published, an important role in Brussels.
In any case, the silence and the lack of convincing explanations from the Spanish government only serve to fuel speculation, and this is certainly not good.