Suspected espionage distorts relations between Morocco and France

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Even before allegations that Morocco may have attempted to eavesdrop on a phone owned by French President Emmanuel Macron, the North African kingdom was having a tense time with European forces.

Rabat was plagued by Madrid and allowed immigrants to Spain. He was in conflict with Germany over his position in the conflict area of ​​Western Sahara.

Today, the espionage allegations published last week about the government’s use of Pegasus malware created by the Israeli NSO group are further straining. This claim emerged as part of a survey by journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and 17 media partners.

French newspaper Le Monde said Morocco might have Target mobile phone As part of cyber-spy activities, he belongs to Macron and 15 French ministers, which may include targeting 6,000 phones owned by Algerian officials and politicians. Algeria is Morocco’s neighbor and rival.

Formerly a colonial ruler, France sees Rabat as a close ally in the fight against jihadistism and is Morocco’s largest trading partner.

The timing of the revelation “has been particularly damaging to Morocco, which is experiencing two major diplomatic crises between Spain and Germany,” said Ricardo Fabiani, director of the International Crisis Group’s North Africa. You cannot open the Third Front with France. ”

Morocco’s relationship with Spain was tense earlier this year, hosted by Madrid for treatment. Brahimgari, Leader of the Polisario Front, an Algerian-based organization demanding independence in the conflict areas of Western Sahara. In May Influx of thousands of immigrants The move from Morocco to Ceuta, a Spanish outpost in North Africa, was due to Rabat’s dissatisfaction with his visit to Gari and loosening border control.

The kingdom that controls most of Western Sahara has also collapsed with Germany. In May, he recalled the ambassador after saying that Germany would not change its position in Western Sahara, even if the United States under Donald Trump’s administration recognized Morocco’s sovereignty as part. transaction Rabat has normalized relations with Israel. The UN plan for a referendum to determine the situation in Western Sahara has been stalled for decades.

“Undoubtedly, Morocco’s position in Europe is lower than ever,” said US-based North Africa Risk Consulting. Potential spies “fit into an increasingly aggressive pattern … Moroccan foreign policy,” he added.

Crisis group Fabiani argued that the change in Washington’s position “made Morocco more inflexible” to Western Sahara and encouraged it to seek broader awareness of its control over the territory. ..

France has begun investigating alleged espionage. “The president has taken the issue very seriously and is tracking the progress of the investigation very closely,” Macron said after meeting with the highest security authorities on Thursday. However, he emphasized that the truth of the claim “there was no certainty at this stage.”

As part of that, Morocco has violently denied taking such actions or purchasing software to break into mobile phones.

Morocco’s ambassador to Paris, Chakib Benmusa, told Le Journal du Dimanche that those who made such a terrible accusation against his country now have to submit evidence. “In this story, Morocco is a victim,” he said. “This is an attempt to destabilize.”

Morocco’s leading French lawyer, Olivier Baratelli, said French media said the kingdom would sue both the forbidden story and Amnesty International for defamation in Paris. Human rights groups have provided technical research for media research. Earlier, he said there was evidence that Morocco used Pegasus to break into the phones of local journalists and human rights activists.

Rabat said Amnesty International showed no evidence linking Morocco and journalist spies.

France is Morocco’s leading trading and investment partner and has a solid support for its interest in Western Sahara at the United Nations Security Council.

“Morocco always wanted to know not only what we talk to them, but what we really think about Saharan policy,” said a former French diplomat. “They also really care about what different French players think about Sahara’s question.”

While France was unwavering in supporting Morocco’s position in Western Sahara, Fabiani said Paris “sometimes opposed a harsh position on this issue.” “Moroccans may want to monitor the French,” he said.

He added that the fact that France was also an intimate partner of Polisario’s main sponsor, Algeria, contributed to distrust.

Observers say the two countries will want to contain fallout for security cooperation, even if spies embarrass Morocco and rattle France.

According to a former French diplomat, Moroccan intelligence is “very vigilant and very effective.” “They have greatly helped France in investigating terrorist attacks dating back to the 2005 attack in Madrid and in keeping track of the threat of Islamism in Europe,” he said.

“I think both countries will be happy to kill this as the news cycle progresses,” he said.

Suspected espionage distorts relations between Morocco and France

Source link Suspected espionage distorts relations between Morocco and France

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