February 1, 2023

Having put an end to the great misunderstanding between Madrid and Rabat, and its first motive was the Moroccan dossier of the Sahara, Moroccan and Spanish interests open up one of the most complex strategic dossiers. This is due to the demarcation of maritime boundaries between the two kingdoms, especially in the Atlantic Ridge.

After a series of scientific and technical studies launched in 2013 to study the maritime boundary demarcation project in all its aspects, both sides acknowledge the existence of obstacles to this file, especially in relation to the borders of Mount Tropic off the coast of the Moroccan desert.

Spain considers the volcanic islands off the coast of southern Morocco to be a geological extension of the Canary Islands and therefore part of the Spanish continental shelf.

Spain attempted in 2014, after a series of maritime surveys, to control a volcanic region located about 269 miles south of the island of El Hierro.

For this reason, Spain is afraid of Morocco’s step, knowing in advance about the existence of a volcanic mountain, in which huge minerals are hidden. It came to Madrid’s threat to take legal action to prevent Rabat’s control of the volcanic island from extending.

Morocco is seeking to cling to its sovereign right to include the volcanic island in its maritime domain by issuing a law declaring full sovereignty 350 nautical miles off the Sahara coast.

Morocco also intends to extend its continental shelf to 350 miles. It is a sovereign expansion that will allow it to exploit the natural resources located at the bottom of the sea, and it is an aspiration that also runs counter to the expansion of the Spanish continental shelf southwest of the Canary Islands, as was the case in Madrid. calling from 2014 to expand its maritime influence.

The Sahara issue has not been the only thing that has caused controversy between Spain and Morocco in recent years, as another reason for delaying the demarcation of the border was the presence of a huge volcanic mountain.

This area has minerals such as tellurium, cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements, which are the key to the production of electronic devices, and other materials such as mobile phone batteries, electric vehicles and solar panels.

As for Spain, the main disadvantage is that the location of this marine volcano is outside its territorial waters, which creates a conflict with Morocco when it comes to claims to exploit marine resources.

On the other hand, Concepción Escobar Hernández, Professor of Public International Law at the National University of Distance Education (UNED), explained in Neutral’s statements that in the case of Monte Tropic, “the continental shelf system applies”, emphasizing that “States have automatic rights.” » on the continental shelf up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.

The Government of Spain and the Kingdom of Morocco brought the issue up for discussion after 15 years of absence.

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