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Cablegate: Moroccans Furious Over Spanish Royal Visit To

VZCZCXRO6845
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHRB #1695/01 3061742
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021742Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7693
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 3117
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 1203
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3434
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5830
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4822
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3642

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 001695

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/02/2017
TAGS: PREL MO SP
SUBJECT: MOROCCANS FURIOUS OVER SPANISH ROYAL VISIT TO
ENCLAVES, BUT STRONG TIES WILL ENDURE

REF: RABAT 1687

Classified by Charge d'Affaires Robert P. Jackson for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: The Moroccan government is reacting strongly
to the announced visit of Spanish King Juan Carlos to the
disputed enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Following blistering
criticism of the intended visit by PM El-Fassi and
Information Minister Naciri, the GOM announced in the
afternoon of November 2 that it was recalling its Ambassador
in Madrid for consultations. A senior MFA official we spoke
with expressed exasperation over the development but implied
that the relationship would weather the storm. A Spanish
diplomat told us they had received a similar message of anger
mixed with resignation from their MFA contacts. Despite the
public flash of anger, we doubt the incident will do
sustained damage to the relationship. End summary.

2. (SBU) The Moroccan government did not take lying down news
that Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were planning
their first visit to Ceuta and Melilla, the Spanish enclaves
on the Mediterranean coast claimed by Morocco. (We
understand both enclaves will be visited November 5, with no
overnight stop.) Prime Minister El-Fassi late on November 1
expressed "deep regret" at the decision and warned it would
impact the bilateral relationship. Information Minister (and
government spokesman) Khalid Naciri told local media on
November 1 that the GOM rejected the visit and was very
disappointed by the decision. Speaking on pan-Arab
Al-Jazeera TV, Naciri warned "the Spanish government must
understand there are red lines not to be crossed." Moroccan
independent media also had an angry, nationalistic reaction.
The wide circulation Al-Massae criticized the Spanish monarch
for violating tradition and "implementing the occupation" of
the enclaves.

3. (C) Youssef Amrani, Director-General for Bilateral Affairs
and the third ranking diplomat at the Moroccan Foreign
Ministry, told PolCouns during a November 2 meeting that the
Spanish decision was "not astute" and "disturbed the
atmosphere" between the two countries. He noted that Spain
and Morocco had been undergoing several years of improved
ties and confidence building, manifested most recently by
Crown Prince Felipe's late October visit, which generated
positive coverage in Moroccan media. Amrani implied that the
relationship was durable enough to weather the storm.

4. (C) Similarly, a Spanish diplomat told PolCouns on
November 2 that he had discussed the issue with a senior
contact at the MFA. Heated complaints from the Moroccan side
were followed by assurances that bilateral cooperation would
continue as usual. Asked why King Juan Carlos had chosen to
break with tradition and conduct the visit, the Spaniard
noted that the King has been under domestic political
pressure on a variety of issues from all sides, particularly
the right wing. This pressure may have prompted the King to
conduct a muscular gesture, he speculated.

5. (C) News that Morocco was "indefinitely" recalling its
Ambassador in Madrid for consultations broke on the afternoon
of November 2. A (separate) Spanish diplomat told D/PolCouns
his Embassy was taken by surprise by the decision. He noted
that Vice President Maria Teresa Fernandez De La Vega had
insisted after a Council of Ministers meeting on November 2
that the King Juan Carlos' visit should not have an impact on
Spain's relations with Morocco. News of the withdrawal of
Morocco's Ambassador appeared to belie this hope, our Spanish
contact opined.

6. (C) Comment: We assess that the GOM felt it had to react
loudly and publicly to Juan Carlos' visit. Whatever its
intended purpose, the visit was bound to irritate Morocco,
which continues to claim the enclaves. We also assess that
this angry public reaction will not impact the underlying
calculus behind Morocco's robust cooperation with Spain, and
this incident will not cause sustained damage to their
bilateral relationship. End comment.



*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat

RABAT 00001695 002 OF 002


*****************************************

Jackson

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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