Southern European countries, including Italy and Spain, address the threat from North Africa to NATO allies after the alliance agreed on a new "strategic concept" at the summit in Madrid last week. I'm asking you to.
While the war in Ukraine dominates NATO's agenda, the member states adjacent to the Mediterranean have an alliance. Hope to prepare for other potential flash points from the south. Rapid increase in irregular movement. Spain warned that it could be used as a pressure tactic by what is called a "hostile actor".
Last month, hundreds of immigrants tried to break the border barrier between Melilla, Spain and Morocco. At least 23 people died during the crossing attempt. Immigrants, primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, claim asylum and are anxious to reach Europe to find a better life.
Many immigrants also arrive by boat in the Canary Islands of Spain, 100 kilometers away. Off the coast of Africa. The number of arrivals in the first six months of this year has more than doubled since 2021. Spain fears that pressure on the border could be exacerbated.
Ukraine is one of the world's top grain suppliers, but Russia's invasion has reduced exports by about two-thirds. The United Nations warns that this situation exacerbates the already exacerbating hunger crisis in Africa. Europe is preparing for an increase in immigrants.
"We have been investigating whether people will move more in connection with rising prices, difficulty in accessing grains and wheat," said a government immigration adviser. Txema Santana says. The Canary Islands told Reuters. "It's not there at the moment, but it's only a matter of time."
Islamic extremists resurrected in parts of the Sahel are also immigrants Is promoting the flow of. Europe also states that Wagner Group's Russian mercenaries are exacerbating the conflict. The European Union has imposed sanctions on the Wagner Group, which claims to work for the Kremlin. Moscow denies any links, but states that it provides "military aid" through national channels.
"It is very clear that Wagner is there and there are foreign troops in some countries in the Sahel," Spain's Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told Reuters last month. "And arguably, what Sahel needs is not foreign troops. What Sahel needs is development and stability," he added.
Dealing with Morocco
Spain is seeking international support. In March, we signed an agreement with Morocco to crack down on illegal immigrants.
"The war in Ukraine meant this route of travel, as Morocco changed the profile of international affairs, emphasized it, and proposed a change in relations with Spain, this of the conflict. To ensure the arrival of people in time. In return, Spain was, among other things, asked to change its diplomatic relations with Western Sahara.
"Spain did this. Accepted, this has brought about many geopolitical changes, the border and the situation of immigrants in Western Sahara and Morocco, "explained government adviser Txema Santana.
Critics have accused Madrid of outsourcing immigration policy to countries with a history of human rights abuses.
The Moroccan Human Rights Association, along with the Spanish immigrant charity Walking Borders, cited the June incident at the Moroccan-Merilla border and said, "Europe's policy to externalize the EU border. It's a tragic symbol. "
Moroccan officials told Reuters that the guards "did not use excessive force."
At last week's NATO summit, Spain is an alliance of threats emanating from North Africa. At a press conference at the end of the summit, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had achieved the purpose of the meeting.
"I'm really happy to include the southern side of the strategic concept ... especially in sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel region, this is Europe, and especially. For our country, as a result of the irregular influx of immigrants, terrorism, food crises, energy crises, and the instability and risks that come from climate emergencies, "Sanchez said.
Meanwhile, NATO troops recently conducted exercises just off the coasts of Spain and North Africa. FLOTEX-22 training included units from Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States, as well as other European units integrated into the EU Navy.
Residents of the Spanish town of Tarifa looked at the front row of views of the drill. A resident who asked not to be nominated welcomed the focus on North Africa.
"It's a very unstable area. It's a time bomb, you know what Maglev is, then what happens, war, conflict," he told VOA. .. He mentioned northwestern Africa, including Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
Spain claims to be aware of what is called a hybrid threat, rather than seeking NATO intervention in North Africa.
VOA's Alfonso Beato contributed to this report.