By Majid Morceli
By Majid Morceli
San Francisco – The Scandinavian nation of Sweden is on the verge of recognizing a self-proclaimed republic that was made in Algeria.
This should not come as a surprise to Morocco: the Swedish parliament voted to recognize the breakaway Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in 2011, but the Swedish government at the time rejected the motion.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said at the time: “Sweden traditionally has a position regarding the recognition of new countries. There has to be independence, integration, and autonomy. The territory must be controlled by the government, and the population must be under its control, too.”
None of these conditions are satisfied, and yet the current Swedish parliament does not seem very interested in whether or not the conditions for recognizing a ghostly republic are met or not. The reason is very simple: the enemies of Moroccan territorial integrity, with the unwavering support of Algeria, are fully committed to their cause, while Moroccan decision makers are reactionary and only react once the damage has already been done.
Morocco relies more on paid lobbyists and on France than on its own people to defend its sacred cause. The civil population in and outside Morocco fights tooth and nail for the Palestinian issue, but does not fight for the so-called Western Sahara, which is very much neglected by every day Moroccans.
Moroccan authorities have no one to blame but themselves. Their diplomatic absence in Europe’s northern countries left a vacuum that Morocco’s enemies were happy and ready to fill. Placing ambassadors who no one knows what they do in these countries is not sufficient to counter the incessant schemes of those who want to divide Morocco.
Europe’s northern region has always been sympathetic to the separatist cause, and Morocco’s absence from the diplomatic scene in Sweden made it a fertile ground for Morocco’s foes to be successful.
Very few Swedes live in Morocco, yet Sweden has six diplomatic posts in Morocco. These are the Embassy in Rabat and consulates in Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakech, Oujda, and Tangier.
There are about 20,000 Moroccans living in Sweden, 15,000 in Norway, and another 15,000 in Denmark. Moroccans living abroad are in total disconnect with those who get paid to serve them.
Morocco’s foreign representation in northern Europe could have easily tapped into the Moroccan diaspora living in this region to defend the national cause and counter Morocco’s adversaries’ plots. Instead, Morocco has not appointed an ambassador to Sweden for over 3 years.
Moroccan party leaders are supposedly preparing to visit Sweden as part of their efforts to convince the Nordic state not to recognize the separatists. Meanwhile the Swedish Foreign Ministry said that the country has not recognized the region as an independent state, but is conducting an internal review of its “Western Sahara policy.”
This could be very bad news for Morocco: “reviewing the policy” is just a diplomatic way of saying, “completely revamping the policy.” This could be the start of many bad things to come. Denmark and Norway will most likely follow suit. This could have a lasting effect on any future negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario.
We all remember when the king of Morocco made an emergency trip to the US when the Obama administration wanted to introduce human rights to MINURSO’s mandate. The king was able to convince President Barack Obama that it is in no one’s interest to redo the 1991 agreement.
Should the king do the same thing now, and visit Europe’s northern region and explain to their leaders that interference with the UN process is a dangerous move on their part and will not help the Maghreb region in their ultimate goal of finding a lasting peace?
Blocking the opening of Ikea’s first store in Morocco is simply precipitous and amateurish on the part of Morocco. This action will have no consequences in Sweden. Ikea was built by a joint venture, including the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, Moroccan supermarket chain Marjane Holding, and Portuguese company Sonae Sierra. Canceling the opening of the Ikea store gave more publicity to the rebels than anyone else.
We have many countries that are steadfast supporters of the separatists, and they are flourishing doing business in Morocco. South Africa and Nigeria come to mind. The Moroccan government is even handing out scholarship to Nigerians studying in Morocco.
Until the Moroccan authorities start becoming proactive and make the sacred cause actually sacred, there will be many setbacks, and I am afraid that one day, neither France nor the lobbyists will be able to come to our rescue.
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