The Western Sahara is a huge area of desert bordering the Atlantic Ocean, sandwiched between Morocco and Mauritania. In 1975 the Spanish abandoned the former colony and Morocco sent in troops and settlers to take it over.
The Spanish high court has served Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement, with summons on charges of war crimes.
It comes only days after 8,000 African migrants streamed across the Moroccan border into the Spanish territory of Ceuta, putting intense pressure on the tiny enclave’s infrastructure.
Ghali, who is being treated for a severe case of COVID-19 in a hospital in the Spanish city of Logroño, is the leader of the Polisario Front, who have resisted the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara since the 1970s.
When Ghali arrived in Spain for treatment last month it infuriated the Morocco, which said it “deplores the attitude of Spain” for hosting a man suspected of “serious war crimes and grave human rights abuses.”
Earlier this week Morocco’s minister of state for human rights, El Mustapha Ramid, said Morocco had relaxed border controls to punish Spain for Ghali’s hospitalisation.
Although more than half of the migrants were deported back to Morocco on Wednesday, 19 May, the surge has strained relations between Madrid and Rabat.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez cancelled a trip to Paris to visit Ceuta, where Spanish military reinforcements and police have been deployed…