RABAT, 11 January 2021 – A senior American diplomat has claimed that Washington’s support for Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara is “the only path to peace”.
According to the US Ambassador to Morocco David Fischer, “every US administration since Bill Clinton” has supported Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory.
Fischer spoke Sunday during a visit to the future location of the American consulate general in Dakhla, Western Sahara.
If, indeed, US administrations have long supported this path, it took President Donald Trump speaking up publicly last month for the world to learn of Washington’s “long-held” position.
Fischer called the recognition “the result of months of negotiations, perhaps years, and (one that) has truly been years in the making”.
US State Department officials say there is strong, albeit muted, opposition to the policy championed by President Trump among career diplomats in the Department of State but also among retirees.
Former US national security adviser, John Bolton, is among those who have slammed Trump’s recognition of Morocco’s alleged “sovereignty” over Western Sahara, in exchange for Morocco normalizing relation with Israel.
Bolton has urged US President-elect Joe Biden to reverse course on the policy once he is inaugurated next January 20.
In a recent opinion piece, Bolton said the Trump position on Western Sahara marked yet another low for his administration.
Bolton said Trump effectively threw the Sahrawi people under the bus, ditching three decades of American support for their self-determination via a referendum.
A Republican Congressman who is considered one of America’s best experts on Western Sahara agrees.
In a speech last December 10 on the floor of the Senate, Sen. James Inhofe said Trump could have sealed a deal leading to the recognition of Israel by Morocco without thrashing the aspirations of the Saharawi people.
Trump “could have made this deal without trading away the rights of this voiceless people,” Senator Inhofe said on the Senate floor.
Inhofe has described President Trump’s policy on Western Sahara as a sudden, unjustified policy shift.
The Republican senator, who has served many years in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and is the outgoing chair of another Senate committee is in a position to have known if recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the occupied Western Sahara was always Washington’s position.
Little Support for Trump Policy Around the World
Africa Freedom Network has learnt that there are expectations that the incoming administration of President-elect Joseph Biden will, more likely than not, reverse the Trump policy and re-align Washington more closely to the rest of the international community.
The Biden incoming team has not said a word publicly about where the American president-elect stands on Western Sahara.
“It is a shame that the United States would feel so haughty as to define their policy, driven by American interests, as the only path to peace. Really?” asked Timothy Eyanyang, who campaigns for the recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic from London, England.
African countries disagree with the United States and Morocco and United Nations resolutions on the matter are at odds with the position adopted by President Trump.
The President of the South African, Cyril Ramaphosa, who also holds the rotating presidency of the African Union on Saturday reaffirmed African support for the aspirations of the sovereign Saharawi people.
“The struggle of the Saharawi people for independence and self-determination should remain a priority for the continent,” Ramaphosa said in a speech celebrating the 109thanniversary of the African National Congress.
On Satuday, Swedien’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde recalled that the international community is for the organization of a self-determination referendum in Western Sahara to allow the Saharawi people to determine their destiny.
The Western Sahara question has been inscribed by the United Nations for a long time, Ann Linde was cited by the SPS news agency as adding.
She regretted that many countries put their relations with Morocco before this question.
Polisario Front Vows to Fight On, Blames United Nations
Meanwhile, the Sahrawi Liberation Army (SPLA) said Saturday that its forces will never stop attacking Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara.
In an official statement (communique number 58), the Sahrawi Ministry of Defense said its attacks on Saturday targeted the positions of “enemy soldiers entrenched” in various regions of Westtern Sahara.
The communique provided no further details on how Moroccan forces had reacted to the Polisario attacks.
The Polisario Front lays the blame for lack of action on the Western Sahara Problem at the doorsteps of the United Nations, notably the Secretary-General of the world body and the Security Council.
“There has been no will from the United Nations, particularly the Secretariat General and the Security Council,” Oubbi Bucharaya Bashir, the Representative of the Polisario Front in Europe and at the European Union, reminded viwers of “Face to Face” on France24 television.
Support for independence among the Saharawi people remains very strong, according to the African Union and rights groups monitoring the situation in the occupied territory.
The African Union already admitted the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member of the continental body – a move that led to Morocco quitting the body.
Over the last few months, Morocco has been on an aggressive diplomatic outreach, targeting and convincing a number of African countries to recognize Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara and committing publicly to open a consulate in the occupied territory.
Accusations have been levied at Rabat by pro-independence campaigners who allege that some countries may be trying to “auction off Western Sahara to Morocco” in exchange for Moroccan investments in their countries.
The Polisario Front seeks to bring Morocco back to reason in order to recognize our right to freedom and independence, as it has already done in 1988, after a long period of reluctance,” said Bucharaya Al-Bashir.