The regional geopolitics of the Strait of Gibraltar
Security of passage of the Strait of Gibraltar is an imperative for the world community. To achieve this, there must be stability on the northern and southern shores of the Strait. Peace in the region is currently threatened by the "creeping jurisdiction" which both Spain and Morocco wish to exert over the waters of the Strait. Other factors which threaten stability are the historical rivalry which exists between Spain and the Islamic southern shore; the legacy of disputed sovereignty in the Crown Colony of Gibraltar and the Spanish Plazas in North Africa; the economic divide betwen the EC and Maghreb along the Strait axis; and the possible threat of militant Islam. Contentions also exist between Morocco and Algeria, eg the Western Saharan War. The re-establishment of a strong "power hierarchy" in the area must be supported by such international instruments as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). The Crown Colony and the Spanish Plazas must be decolonized once Spain is firmly integrated into the EC and NATO, and once Morocco has reached a level of economic and political development that is condusive to closer ties with Western institutions.