Youssef Amrani, Morocco’s ambassador to South Africa, has said the increasing international recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara illustrates the growing momentum of the Moroccan diplomacy.
Amrani made the statement on Saturday, December 19, during an interview with South African television channel SABC. The interview focused on the US recognition of Morocco’s territorial integrity and how it will affect the Western Sahara dispute at the UN level.
The Moroccan ambassador explained how this “historical turning point” consolidates Morocco’s diplomatic gains and strengthens the country’s position in defense of its territorial integrity.
US President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara on December 10.
“Morocco recognized the United States in 1777. It is thus fitting we recognize their sovereignty over the Western Sahara,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Morocco’s momentum at the international level
For the Moroccan envoy to Pretoria, the US support for Morocco’s territorial integrity proves that the international community is beginning to better understand the historical legitimacy of the Moroccan position on the Western Sahara dispute.
“Morocco’s compromise solution [to the conflict] has been considered as a serious and credible move by the international community, especially after we organized many meetings and private talks at the level of the Security Council,” the ambassador declared.
On the bilateral level, Amrani considered Trump’s move to strengthen US-Morocco relations on the diplomatic, political, and economic levels. He also declared that the move was relatively predictable, considering the quality of relations between the two countries.
“The US recognition did not happen overnight,” Amrani said, “The US was for many years a supporter of the [Moroccan] autonomy initiative.”
Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, submitted to the UN in April 2007, suggests making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region under Moroccan sovereignty. The proposal would allow local populations to autonomously handle socio-economic and political development.
Amrani stressed that the autonomy initiative is the only political, realistic, and pragmatic solution to the territorial dispute. He argued that separatism only leads to the creation of “failed states” that turn into a source of terrorism and security threats.
Resumption of Morocco-Israel relations
Responding to critics who accuse Morocco of “betraying” the Palestinian cause in exchange for the US recognition, Amrani said the Moroccan decision to resume diplomatic relations with Israel is separate from the American move.
He qualified Morocco’s decision to resume relations with Israel to be an independent, sovereign, and natural move. For Amrani, Morocco based its decision on several considerations, including the large number of Jewish Moroccans living in Israel, as well as the 2011 Moroccan constitution’s recognition of Jewish culture as part of the national identity.
Regarding the Palestinian cause, the Moroccan diplomat assured that Morocco’s position remains unchanged, as expressed by King Mohammed VI in his recent phone call with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
On December 10, King Mohammed VI called Abbas to convey Morocco’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, affirming that the kingdom is still in favor of a two-state solution.
“Morocco is a champion of the Palestinian cause … It has always called for the preservation of the Islamic aspect of Jerusalem,” Amrani said.
The Moroccan diplomat concluded his statements by affirming that Morocco will spare no diplomatic efforts to help Israel and Palestine reach a solution to their conflict.