Rabat – With Bolton’s firm position on the Western Sahara, what could this mean for the future of the conflict?
Rumors are circulating that Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, could replace current National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, which ignite negative foreign relations between the United States and North Africa.
When NBC reported last week that McMaster, whom U.S. President Donald Trump has never particularly cared for, was searching for an escape from the White House, suspicions arose.
This speculation gained ground when Bolton was called to the White House for a meeting with the president, Tuesday afternoon.
Furthermore, the resignation of moderate economic advisor Gary Cohn following Trump’s vow to enact new tariffs on steel and aluminum marks the departure of yet another moderate conservative influence within the administration. Although Bolton has had a foot in the Oval Office for some time now, his access to real power in the White House could turn the U.S.’s foreign policy course in a far more militarist direction.
In the past, Bolton has utilized fear mongering and stretching the truth to institute policies that align with his ideology. Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, for example, he was involved in gathering intelligence on the alleged weapons mass destruction while serving as the third under the Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
Additionally, in 2002, Bolton claimed that the Cuban government was developing biological weapons, which analysts later dismissed as inaccurate. After an analyst testified to Congress about this misinformation, Bolton became infuriated and attempted to transfer the analyst to another department.
Bolton’s hardline tactics pose a threat to international stability and positive relations between America and other nations–including their first ally in the region, Morocco.
In 2003, Bolton took part in constructing the Baker Plan II, named after then UN special envoy James Baker, which advocated for five years of Saharan self-rule under Moroccan sovereignty, followed by a referendum vote between integration into Morocco, independence, and autonomy. Throughout his career his career, Bolton has been among the most vocal supporters for holding a referendum and has often blamed Morocco for the failure of the UN efforts to put an end to the conflict.
The four-decade-long conflict is still ongoing, with both Morocco and Polisario claiming sovereignty in the region. As it stands, supporters of the Polisario Front are living in refugee camps in Tindouf in southern Algeria, where they continue to advocate for the right of self-determination in the Western Sahara.
Moroccan officials, led by Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, recently met with the UNSG Personal Envoy Horst Kohler in Lisbon to reexamine the Western Sahara issue. Sidi Hamdi Ould Errachid, President of the Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra region, and Yajna Khattat, President of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region, were both in attendance, according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The presence of these regional officials signifies the opening of a new dialogue among relevant stakeholders.
However, if Bolton is appointed as the new US national security adviser, the power balance would likely shift, putting an end to recent progress.