By Majid Morceli
By Majid Morceli
San Francisco – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon intended to put the Sahara dossier on the front burner as he himself declared when he last visited Algeria. He claimed that he wanted to redeem himself for not giving as much attention to the so-called Western Sahara conflict as it deserves.
However, as an experienced diplomat, it seems that his intention was to make Morocco irate by declaring in Algeria, Morocco’s political archenemy, that the Western Sahara is an “occupied” territory.
Of course Morocco reacted the way the Secretary-General expected. What Ban Ki-moon did not anticipate is the virulence with which Morocco responded to this deliberate provocation. He never could have expected that Morocco would respond by evicting 73 members of MINURSO and eliminating the three-million-dollar budget previously allocated to MINURSO.
To make matters worse, Ban Ki-moon accused the millions of Moroccans, who came from all corners of the country, to demonstrate in Rabat on March 13 of being government-sponsored protesters. He also demanded explanations as to why Moroccan government ministers participated in the march in Rabat.
What Ban Ki-moon did not realize before going after Morocco is that the Kingdom today is in a position of strength. Europe does not want to see another Syria or Libya at its doorstep.
Morocco has been a staunch ally in combating terrorism and and illegal immigration. It is in the best interest of Europe for Morocco to remain the most stable country in North Africa.
Ban Ki-moon should have known that Morocco’s friends on the Security Council, such as Senegal, Egypt, France, Spain and Japan would not act against Morocco’s interests. Egypt and Senegal in particular have taken lead positions in defending Morocco’s interests before the UN.
Moroccan authorities are taking note and will not forget. Moroccan people should do the same. These friends of Morocco will remain on the Security Council until their term ends in 2017, at a date beyond Ban Ki-moon’s tenure.
Morocco is no hurry to bring back UN personnel were evicted from MINURSO. Let’s remember that while visiting Laayoun last November, King Mohammed VI joined the protest when he personally drove his car to show support to the protestors in front of MINURSO’s headquarters. Morocco’s King understand very well that MINURSO has become Polisario’s consultant. Their mission has changed from keeping the peace to creating a perpetual conflict. It is not in MINURSO’s interest that the problem gets resolved. Jobs and adventures will be lost if the conflict comes to an end.
Now it appears that Ban Ki-moon has realized that he should not have opened Pandora’s box. He tried to backtrack by saying that he regretted his statements, but what he failed to do is to simply apologize to Morocco.
He knows very well that issuing an official apology would be seen as an admission that Morocco’s presence in the Sahara is not an occupation, a position he is still not willing to take. Moroccan officials have rightly rejected Ban Ki-moon’s non-apology.
Moroccans officials have rejected Ban Ki Moon Non-apology apology, when they said that the Ban Ki-moon’s unacceptable statements cannot be reduced to a simple “misunderstanding.”
The Secretary-General made statements of unprecedented severity, which are “neither justifiable nor erasable.”
There is no reason for Morocco to let Ban Ki-moon off the hook. Millions of Moroccans inside and outside the country have shown to the world the Moroccan Sahara is a question of Life and death for all Moroccans. Any letup from Morocco’s officials would go against the will of the people.
Morocco has put an offer on the table that many consider serious and credible and which would allow the people of southern Morocco to run their own affairs under the Moroccan flag.
It is not in Morocco’s interest to keep dealing with Ban Ki-moon now that Morocco has solid friends on the Security Council until 2017. Morocco will just have to wait and see who will be the next Security-General as well as who will be his or her envoy to the region.
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