Spain might appoint Jose Maria Ridao, the former deputy director of Spanish newspaper El Pais, as ambassador to Morocco, local news outlet Vozpopuli reported on February 3.
Citing sources from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the media speculated that Ridao, who left his position with El Pais in January, would replace the current ambassador in Rabat, Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner.
Ridao, a former diplomat, has requested to rejoin the Spanish foreign ministry after leaving El Pais.
If he rejoins the ministry, Ridao aspires to lead a Spanish diplomatic mission in the southern Mediterranean region or, at least, serve as a consul.
“Ridao knows [Morocco] very well, thanks to his friendship with the writer Juan Goytisolo, who he has often visited in Marrakech,” Vozpopuli wrote, supporting the speculations about Ridao’s appointment.
After studying Law and Arab Philology, Rida joined the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1987, as head of the Near East Department. His appointments abroad, between 1989 and 2000, took him to Angola, Soviet-era Russia, Equatorial Guinea, and France.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Ridao decided to leave the foreign ministry and devote himself to his intellectual work, but he made short returns to the diplomatic field, notably when he served as Spain’s ambassador to UNESCO between 2004 and 2006 and as consul in Washington D.C. between 2017 and 2019.
Before his most-recent appointment to the US, the Spanish diplomat was set to become a consul in Algiers. However, the Algerian government refused his appointment without providing a justification.
If the new speculations are correct, Ridao’s mission in Morocco would be his first in an Arabic-speaking country. The diplomat would have to work on maintaining the fruitful relations between Morocco and Spain and on defusing the apparent, emerging tensions between the two “special” neighbors.