Rabat - The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) voiced its support for Morocco's claim over Western Sahara during a joint summit in Riyadh, during which King Mohammed VI spoke of a "proxy war" being fought with Morocco through the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Rabat – The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) voiced its support for Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara during a joint summit in Riyadh, during which King Mohammed VI spoke of a “proxy war” being fought with Morocco through the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“What we are witnessing, in fact, is a proxy war, in which the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UNSG) is being used to infringe on Morocco’s legitimate, historical rights in its Sahara, through biased statements and unacceptable behavior regarding the Moroccan Sahara,” the king said.
The statements referred to by the monarch constitute the use of the term “occupation” by the UNSG to describe Morocco’s presence in the Western Sahara after the international leader’s visit to the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria housing displaces Sahrawis last month.
“We stress our support to all political and security causes that are important for your brotherly country, mainly the Western Sahara,” King Salman of Saudi Arabia said during the opening speech of the summit of regional leaders
In addition to Saudi Arabia, the GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – all of which are forms of monarchies.
King Salman also stressed the GCC’s “categorical rejection of any harm to the interests of Morocco” over the disputed territory for which the Algieria-backed Polisario Front demands a referendum on independence.
Earlier at the summit, Morocco’s monarch had urged Gulf monarchies to support his country to defend it from “plots against its territorial integrity,” adding that the UN Security Council’s yearly discussions on the Western Sahara taking place this month were being used “to blackmail Morocco”.
“This time, the situation is serious,” he said. “It is also unprecedented in the history of this artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.”
The monarch and Moroccans alike rejected an explanation from Ki-moon’s office saying that his his use of the controversial term in March was not deliberate and that he regretted causing the “misunderstandings.”
As a political reaction to the Ki-moon’s speech in Algiers, Morocco expelled the peacekeeping mission MINURSO from its offices in Laayoune and Dakhla and cancelled it’s USD 3 million grant to the operation. The U.N. established MINURSO in 1991 after brokering a peace deal between Morocco and the Polisario Front – two sides that had been fighting for 16 years.
Morocco maintains a close alliance with Saudi Arabia and the GCC in trade and military endeavors.
In 2011, the GCC had proposed that Morocco and Jordan, both fellow monarchies, join the regional organization, but though the initiative failed, the bloc set up a USD 5 billion fund for projects in the two countries.
Morocco has supported the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen since efforts began. In March 2015 an F16 warplane belonging to the North African country was downed.