Rabat – The Trump administration is allegedly “pressuring” Horst Kohler to find a quick settlement to the decades-long conflict in Western Sahara.
Assabah reported on Saturday, August 12, that members in President Trump’s inner circles have been pushing Host Kohler, the UN secretary-general’s personal envoy for Western Sahara, to devise a plan that will not only convince all stakeholders to resume peace negotiations to end the long-standing political deadlock, but also to ensure a “quick political settlement.”
According to Assabah’s “diplomatic sources,” Washington’s intensions are mainly military-based, because the Trump administration envisions erecting a stronghold in the MENA region. And in some conservative quarters in Washington, the Sahara dispute allegedly constitutes a major impediment to the realization of Trump’s security plan for North Africa.
In addition, the sources mentioned that Washington has held months-long behind-closed-doors meetings with governments in the Middle East to create what President Trump has reportedly referred to as an “Arab NATO.”
The move primarily seeks to create a military stronghold in the Gulf to fight terrorism and the spread of extremist groups. But Washington also wishes to create a Sunni alliance comprising the Gulf states, Jordan, and Egypt to contain and neutralize Shia Iran’s expanding military and ideological influence in the Middle East.
Moroccan diplomatic sources quoted by Assabah believe, however, that Washington is also planning to extend its Iran-containment policy to North Africa.
They underlined recent developments in Western Sahara. The alleged presence in the area of Iran-backed Hezbollah and groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have persuaded Washington of the urgent need to establish a security stronghold in the area, the sources argued.
UN-led negotiations to resume
On Wednesday, Horst Kohler briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara.
The German diplomat proposed resumption of peace talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front to find a mutually acceptable political accommodation a decade after the last UN-led negotiations ended in a diplomatic standstill in 2008.
The Security Council welcomed Kohler’s call for resuming negotiations.
Morocco, too, expressed satisfaction with Kohler’s plan to resume negotiations. However, the kingdom insisted that a more effective plan be put in place to involve and commit all important stakeholders, including neighboring Algeria, to finding a lasting and sustainable political solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.
But it remains to be seen whether both President Trump’s alleged North Africa stronghold and the UN’s latest determination to secure a political settlement will be met with similar fervor by the parties involved, especially given the overt hostility between Algiers and Rabat over the situation in Western Sahara.