Would Algeria’s aggressive public relations strategy on Western Sahara go any length to further Algiers’ narrative?
Spain’s denial of its reported convergence of opinions with Algiers follows reports in the Algerian media that Madrid, recognizing “Algeria’s role in the Maghreb and Sahel,” is considering upgrading its “solidarity” with Algeria on a wide range of regional security issues.
Spain’s Algerian friendship follows a meeting between the Spanish ambassador to Algeria, Fernando Moran, and the president of the Algerian national assembly, Mouad Bouchareb.
“Bouchareb Hosts Spanish Ambassador: Total Convergence on Western Sahara and Palestine,” Algerian outlet El Moudjahid headlined on February 12.
In the meeting, Moran allegedly compared the Palestinian and Sahrawi “causes,” and congratulated Algeria for its supposed efforts for guaranteeing regional peace and security.
El Moudjahid added that the Spanish ambassador “praised President Bouteflika’s wisdom” and called for greater efforts to “rekindle cooperation [between Algeria and Spain] on questions of common interests.”
Attempt to sabotage the Spain-Morocco agenda?
Spain is Morocco’s strongest EU ally, and Madrid has repeatedly expressed a desire to further the strategic relations that bind the two countries.
Ambassador Moran’s alleged statements came as Morocco’s King Mohammed VI prepared to host Spain’s King Felipe VI and family.
The reports of Spain’s pro-Algeria position on the Sahara came across in the Moroccan media more like an attempt to sabotage Morocco-Spain relations before the strategic meeting of the two royal families.
Doubt regarding Algiers’ reporting of Moran’s meeting with Bouchareb increased when the Spanish foreign affairs ministry said that the ambassador’s words were “misunderstood” and “mistranslated.”
Asked for comments on the meeting, a spokesperson for the Spanish ministry said that news relayed in the Algerian press mischaracterized Spain’s position on Western Sahara. “What happened was a misinterpretation of our ambassador’s statements on Western Sahara.”
The spokesperson noted that the translation [of Moran’s statements] was incorrect, adding that the ministry “will soon provide a correct translation.”
Most importantly, the spokesperson explained, “Spain’s position on Western Sahara has not changed. It is in line with the UN principles.”