Washington D.C.- President Barack Obama signed on Friday night in Washington D.C. the 2014 Appropriation Bill. The new bill provides, for the first time funding to Morocco to finance development projects in the Sahara.
Just as the U.S. Congress, who had previously and repeatedly expressed bipartisan support for this measure through letters, reports, and most recently through a voice vote in the month of July, the current Finance Law also expressed a clear significant support for the position of the U.S. administration vis- à-vis the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, which Washington had already described as “serious, realistic and credible “.
This new budget law comes less than two months after King Mohammed VI’s visit to the United States in which the Moroccan monarch had a summit meeting with President Obama at the White House.
In the joint statement issued following the meeting held on November 22, the two heads of state had emphasized the need to improve living conditions of people in the Moroccan Sahara.
“By adopting this budget law the U.S. Congress, at the same time, sent a clear message of support to the bipartisan policy of the United States for the settlement of the Sahara issue on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy proposal, ” former U.S. Ambassador Edward Gabriel was quoted by MAP as saying.
“Such bipartisan support from the Congress of the United States will further strengthen the Moroccan-US bilateral relations, which have become, in the current environment, essential to U.S. national security and the interests of the United States in North Africa and the Middle East region,” he added.
The former U.S. diplomat recalls in this context that “Morocco has invested billions of dollars in the southern provinces in the consolidation of the road infrastructure, the construction of schools, hospitals, and other development projects, the constant goal is the improvement of living conditions of people in this part of the Kingdom and pave the way to autonomy “
“Support for development projects in the southern provinces specified in the US 2014 Appropriation Bill is to ensure the continuity of progress and development in these provinces,” said Garbriel.
The report accompanying the Appropriation Bill calls on the US Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of USAID, to submit a report, not less than 90 days after its enactment which shall include: (1) a description of the needs related to development and democratic reform in the regions and territories administered by Morocco and how funds made available in title III of this Act for assistance for Morocco will be used to address such needs; and (2) steps taken to resolve the longstanding dispute over the Western Sahara, based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, including efforts to address durable humanitarian solutions to the protracted refugee crisis in the camps near Tindouf, Algeria”.
Diplomatic blow to the Polisaio
Some analysts see the US new budget law as a new low dealt to the Polisario, especially after several countries have decided to withdraw their recognition of the self-proclaimed RASD.
“ The Polisario is confronting a serious isolation at the international level. The separatist movement was recently dealt a series of diplomatic blows when the governments of Panama, Paraguay, Haiti and Mauritius decided to withdraw their recognition of the so-called Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic known by its French acronym as RASD, Said Temsamani, a Washington-based political analyst told MWN.
“Self-proclaimed in 1976, the entity has never been recognized by the United Nations, any European state, the United States, or Canada. Today, some of the African and South American countries that had recognized it as a “Republic on paper” during the cold war era have started reconsidering their decision. And the newly adopted American budget law is a new blow to the Poisario as it shows that the American administration takes more seriously than ever the Autonomy Plan Presented by Morocco in April 2007,” he added.
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