By Rachad Bouhlal
Washington DC, August 9, 2013
The July 8 news article “In Western Sahara’s forgotten struggle, women lead the way” noted that women were playing a major role in helping to chart the future of the Sahara but excluded the critical point that this activism has been made possible largely because of reforms embraced and implemented by the Kingdom of Morocco.
The article did make the important point that those pushing for independence in the Sahara are a scant minority of the population. If one truly embraces that reality, the fact that women in the Sahara are playing a key role in the push for independence becomes much less newsworthy. They are playing a major role in a supposed struggle being engineered by a minor group — the Polisario. Moreover, there was little mention of the well-known Polisario “baggage” in terms of human rights violations.
The article noted that the United States does not recognize Morocco’s control over the Sahara, but it failed to mention that the last three U.S. administrations and majorities from both parties and both chambers of Congress have expressed support for the Moroccan proposal to resolve the Sahara dispute. This proposal, to grant autonomy to the population of the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, also has the support of the broader international community.
Who has read the Polisario’s counterproposals for resolving this matter? The answer is nobody, because none exist, save the fanciful and potentially devastating one that continues to urge an independent state for the approximately 400,000 people in an area the size of Colorado.
Mr. Rachad Bouhlal is Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States.
Originally published in the Washington Post.