A few days after the election of Morocco to a non-permanent seat at the Security Council, the United States, one of the five permanent members of the Council, reiterated its view that the Moroccan autonomy plan is a credible proposal for finding a settlement to the Sahara issue.
New York – This statement comes on the eve of a United Nations Security Council meeting, to be held today, during which members of the Council will receive a briefing on the progress made in informal talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front.
The United States sees the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara as a “serious, realistic and credible” proposal, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey D. Feltman in a statement carried by the Maghreb Arab Press news agency.
The U.S. official, who is carrying on an official visit to Morocco, called, in this regard, for all parties concerned to work to achieve a lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Sahara issue. He went on to say that it is in the interest of all countries of the region to find a sustainable settlement to the conflict.
Feltman also reiterated his country’s full confidence and support to the efforts of the Personal Envoy of UN Secretary-General, Christopher Ross, and the United Nations to find a solution to this regional dispute.
In April 2007, Morocco presented an Autonomy Plan that was described as “serious and credible” by the Security Council. The said plan proposes significant autonomy for the Sahara with a local government and a parliament, within the Moroccan sovereignty.
The Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, rejects the Moroccan plan and claims the people of the Sahara have a right to self-determination through a referendum.
Over the past two years, Morocco and the Polisario have held 8 informal rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, Christopher Ross. The last round of negotiations was held in July in New York. All of these negotiations have ended without any progress.
Many analysts voice their concern that the current informal negotiations over the future of the Sahara are leading nowhere and that the Security Council ought to adopt a new approach in order to put an end to this long-lasting dispute.
With the changing geopolitical situation in the Maghreb after the demise of Muammar Gaddafi, the involvement of Polisario militias on behalf of Gaddafi and the implication of some Polisario in terrorist activities, as illustrated by the kidnapping on Sunday of three humanitarian workers in Tindouf, Morocco might be pushed to refuse to engage in any informal negotiations in the near future.
Christopher Ross to brief the SC on the negotiation process
The UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy, Christopher Ross, is scheduled today to brief the Security Council on the status of the negotiations process.
On the eve of the Christopher Ross briefing, the Polisario Representative at the UN sent a letter to the Security Council in which he used the same accusatory language against Morocco, stressing that the latter “obstructs the many recent efforts by the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, to reinvigorate the peace process.”
Over the past weeks, the Polisario and its main backers, Algeria and South Africa, have striven in vain to prevent Morocco from being elected to the Security Council. Many see the candidature of Mauritania as being orchestrated by the Polisario and its acolytes with the view of preventing Morocco from seating at the UN’s main decision-making body. In spite of these efforts, Morocco was elected overwhelmingly with 151 votes.
Abduction of humanitarian workers in Tindouf
During her official visit in Rabat on Tuesday, Spanish Foreign Minister, Trinidad Jimenez, announced that Spain has asked the United Nations to assess security in the Sahrawi refugee camps in western Algeria. “We have asked the United Nations to send a mission to Algeria to assess the security situation in the camps of Tindouf”, said Jimenez in a statement carried by Reuters.
The abduction of the two Spanish and one Italian humanitarian workers comes on the heals of warnings made over the past months by both Morocco and some analysts that the Tindouf camps have become a propitious ground for terrorist activities and that some elements from the Polisario are involved with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI).
Many perceive the tone of the letter sent by Ahemed Boukahri, Polisario’s representative to the United Nations, as an attempt to deflect the attention of the international public opinion from the truth of the Polisario and the nature of dealings that some of its elements are involved in.
*Samir Bennis is Morocco World News’ co-founder and editor-in-chief.