Unsettled by Morocco’s growing public relations gains, Polisario is campaigning to win more members to its Friends of Western Sahara club.
Rabat – A three-member delegation from the Polisario Front paid a working visit to Reykjavik, Iceland, on Wednesday, April 3. The move comes as the self-proclaimed Sahrawi government seeks a broader support base for its self-determination claims in Western Sahara.
According to articles in pro-Polisario outlets, the delegation, which was headed by Brahim Ghali, the president of the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), met Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir to give her a letter of friendship and cooperation.
In the letter, Ghali reportedly requested support from Iceland for the front’s struggle for the “decolonization” of Western Sahara.
In response, Prime Minister Jakobsdottir “expressed her government’s interest in Western Sahara,” according to Polisario-owned Sahara Press Service.
The Icelandic prime minister, the newspaper added, said that her country was closely following the Western Sahara territorial dispute and was “committed to settlement efforts, in line with the UN resolutions and Charter.”
In addition to discussing the ongoing UN-led process spearheaded by Horst Kohler, Jakobsdottir and her Polisario guests spoke about recent “decolonization efforts,” according to Sahara Press Service.
The separatist delegation sought to use the meeting as an opportunity to convince the Nordic state, which has not recognized SADR as a state, to join its base of supporters.
The group particularly lambasted the human rights record in Western Sahara, which, they told the Icelandic prime minister, are due to Morocco’s heavy-handed and restrictive rule on the territory.
The Polisario delegation allegedly fumed at the EU-Morocco agriculture and fisheries deals, telling Jakobsdottir that Brussels went ahead in renewing its commitment to Morocco in spite of evidence about Rabat’s “imposed rule” on Sahrawi locals.
At the end of the meeting, the Polisario delegation thanked their host, promising the separatist front’s “desire to reinforce friendly ties and bilateral relations” with Iceland.
Morocco’s increasing hope
Morocco has traditionally lashed out at perceived partner countries that welcome Polisario envoys and give them a platform to express their separatist claims.
But whether Rabat rebukes Iceland remains to be seen. The North African country has recently been busy sharpening its US and Africa-oriented public relations to secure support to discredit pro-Polisario narratives.
In the meantime, Rabat has shown signs of satisfaction with the ongoing UN-led process in Western Sahara.
At the end of the latest Geneva roundtable on Western Sahara, foreign minister Nasser Bourita, who headed the Moroccan delegation at the Geneva meeting, said that the international community is gradually waking up to the “historical truth” that self-determination and referendum are illusory and unfeasible in the Sahara context.
Urging pragmatism from other stakeholders in the dispute, Bourita argued that the latest UN requirements for a negotiated settlement are increasingly in tune with Morocco’s 2007 Autonomy Plan.
Rather than a referendum on self-determination, the UN is now pushing for a compromise-based political dialogue to broker a mutually acceptable solution, a position closer to Morocco’s, Bourita pointed out.