IS ROTA GOING?
January 14, 2021
Rota was special to Spain when the Americans decided to build a military naval base in September 1953, in a country then not even a member of the United Nations.
Franco’s Spain was a military dictatorship led by the person that had mounted a military coup against the elected government and was neutral, in name only, during World War 2, with clear sympathies for Hitler and Mussolini.
Franco used the American bases, four in total, to prop up a stagnant economy and his regime.
The Americans were so important that there was even a comedy produced about them in “Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall” by Luis García Berlanga in 1953, and now, it seems, that there could be a sequel “Adios, Mr. Marshall.”
At least that is what reports in The Moroccan press indicate.
Rumours of a US military base potentially moving to Morocco have made the rounds in Moroccan and Spanish media despite official denials. Moroccan weekly outlet Al Ayyam, first reported that the US military base in Rota could be moved to Tan-Tan, Morocco, as part of the roadmap established between the two countries.
The outlet reported the news as part of ongoing secret negotiations between US and Moroccan military officials. The remarkable news soon spread in Moroccan news outlets, triggering a fury of responses from Spanish media. The possible US decision became the topic of discussion for the Spanish press, from large dailies in Madrid to local papers.
If Al Ayyam’s reporting is correct, secret negotiations are underway and the US base at Rota could be in its final year. Yet the strenuous denials of top officials from both countries mean little is definitive at the moment.
The US has to extend its defence agreement with Spain six months in advance of its expiration in May 2022. This means that by the end of November 2021, the move could be confirmed, if it will happen at all.
Add to these facts the US recent recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, and the suggestion is that Morocco is rapidly becoming one of the strongest, “indispensable” US allies, especially in the ever-strategic MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.
El País claims that the US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara is against international legality, forgetting that the basis of legality, when it comes to sovereignty, is generally based on the recognition by individual countries. If countries had validated the Madrid Accords of 1975 and recognised the sovereignty of Morocco over the territory, no-one would be discussing this problem 40 years later.
On January 4, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha González Laya said the Rota base is “not in any danger.” There is “no reason to fear,” Laya stated, adding that she could not “speak of the plans that the United States has with Morocco.”