Washington-DC- Human rights in Algeria, Morocco and Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf should have been on the menu of US Secretary of State recent visit to Morocco and Algeria.
However, and despite the Algerian press intense campaign to link this visit to the UNSC review of the MINURSO mandate, civil and human conditions in the region were, unfortunately, absent during Secretary John Kerry discussions. This omission is yet another diplomatic misstep form the part of the Moroccan diplomacy.
Morocco should not shy away from addressing its human rights records including the delicate conditions in the “Western Sahara”. Moroccan officials should have asked Mr. Kerry to intervene with the Algerian government to secure an independent investigation into reports of the latest arrests and persecutions of pro-Morocco activists in Tindouf.
For many Moroccans, including several elected officials native of the Sahara, it has been frustrating to witness the continuous mismanagement of this dossier. As Maghreb observers and journalists reports on Algeria’s dysfunctional presidential campaign, ethnic riots, arrests and harassments of political dissidents and President Bouteflika’s ill health, Moroccan officials look ambivalent to the major impact of such factors on the American policy in the region including the “Western Sahara”.
Rabat’s inability to leverage the political and security instability in Algeria to win concession from the Americans is incomprehensible. The United States is more concerned with stability and economic developments than human rights. Obama’s foreign policy’s pragmatism and realism opens the door for Morocco to market its Sahara solution once for all.
Despite Algeria’s leadership crisis, Morocco is struggling to control the Western Sahara agenda on the international scene. More problematically, Rabat’s mute and reactionary attitude cast doubts about Moroccan diplomats’ ability to make the right decisions for the country’s future decisions at the United Nations.
In fact, it is time for a complete and a drastic review of Morocco’s Sahara policy. A review of Morocco‘s latest diplomatic success reveal that “Royal visits” are the only courses that produce good results. Such structure is unstainable and thus a review of the Moroccan entities in charge of handling this dossier is overdue.
The “same old approach” has proven ineffective, monotonous and excessively bureaucratic. Rabat major hurdle in promoting its Sahara positions has been Rabat. A diplomatic and a domestic policy that requires that each and every decision related the Sahara must be made in the capital and by a high level official is doomed to collapse. Bureaucrats in Morocco must make a clear break with the centralized decision making process in favor for a system based on competent officials with the freedom to take initiatives.
Despite ample evidences that anger toward the Polisario leadership and the Algerian military is brewing in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria, the Moroccan authorities are unable to take advantage of these events and push for an international, open and unrestrictive investigation of the living conditions in Tindouf. Rabat persistent inability to draw attention to the dire human rights situation in the Algerian run camps is vexing and exasperating for Moroccan nationalists who have been fighting for an internationally recognized Moroccan Sahara.
As little changes seem to happen domestically, Rabat should worry about “a fatigue syndrome” creeping among some activists who have been crucial to the advancements of the “Moroccan Sahara” agenda at the international level.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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