The two countries have been exerting a lot of influence on each other for ages, which wasn’t stopping them from wars.
A group of Moroccan gendarmes landed on Perejil island in the Mediterranean Sea. This was the gift to their King Mohamed VI, whose wedding is being celebrated in Morocco currently. Gendarmes flew the Moroccan flag on the island and claimed that the island belonged to their country. The island actually belonged to Spain, so it sent its army ships to Perejil island in return.
Perejil was seized by Spain over 400 years ago. The territory has been under the Spanish governance since then, but the Moroccan government reminds of its rights on the island from time to time. The discrepancy about the issue is rather serious, it eventually resulted in the fact that Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Spain last October. The Spanish King Juan Carlos claimed that he was not going to be present at the wedding of the Moroccan king, even if he received a personal invitation. This refusal means a lot, because it is not a usual thing to happen between monarchs.
As a matter of fact, this is not the first conflict between the two countries in the modern history. Morocco seized the Spanish colony Western Sahara in 1975, but this time the European Union took the Spanish side, claiming that it was ready to show pressure on Morocco.
European mass media are trying to determine the correlation of forces between the two countries. Morocco is definitely behind Spain in this respect: the Moroccan Navy counts 27patrol boats and one time-worn frigate. Spain has an aircraft carrier, eight submarines and 15 large ships.
The story is very unlikely to be over with an armed conflict, the Moroccans will leave the island at the end of the day, but the territorial dispute will remain anyway.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
AP photo: The Spanish frigate 'Navarra' arrives at the port of Ceuta, Spain to join a vigilance operation near the island of Perejil off Morocco
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov