In his usual diplomatic tone, Guterres again called on the parties to the Western Sahara dispute to avoid an escalation of tensions.
Rabat – The UN said today its position on Western Sahara remains “unchanged” after the US declared its recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the region.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is confident “the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions,” said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Guterres’ statement advised the parties to the dispute “to avoid any action that could further aggravate a tense situation.”
Earlier this evening, US President Donald Trump announced that Morocco agreed to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. In his announcement, he added that it is appropriate that the US recognize Morocco’s full sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The US is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which is leading the political process to find a solution to the territorial dispute between Morocco and Polisario. The other permanent members are China, France, Russia, and the UK.
Morocco proposed its Autonomy Plan for Western Sahara in 2007. The plan suggests making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region that remains under Morocco’s sovereignty. Polisario, meanwhile, wants a referendum for an “independent Sahrawi state” in Western Sahara.
In his presidential proclamation on Western Sahara today, Trump affirmed that the US supports Morocco’s autonomy proposal as the only solution to the dispute and said a Sahrawi “state” in the region is unrealistic.
The development comes less than one month after Morocco’s military acted to end Polisario’s blockade of the Guerguerat border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania. Guerguerat is located in the UN-monitored buffer zone.
In September, Polisario members began staging sporadic demonstrations to block civil and commercial traffic through the border crossing. On October 21, armed Polisario elements launched a total blockade of the post, stranding commercial truck drivers and cutting off Morocco from West Africa.
After the UN failed to compel Polisario to leave the region, Morocco acted on November 13 to establish a security cordon at the border crossing and restore the flow of civil and commercial traffic. In response, Polisario declared the end of the 1991 UN ceasefire.
Since then, Polisario and Algerian media outlets have continued to push reports that the militant front is waging regular attacks against Moroccan military targets, inflicting “severe” human and material losses. A Polisario leader said today that the “war” may soon reach “occupied” Moroccan cities.
The UN maintains a neutral position in the Western Sahara dispute. It has continued to urge all parties to the Western Sahara conflict to maintain respect for the 1991 and efforts to peacefully negotiate a solution.