The Moroccan community in the US is set to send a letter to the US Senate to correct some of the fallacies about Western Sahara communicated in a recent correspondence between 27 senators and US President Joe Biden.
The 27 senators who signed the letter sent to Biden on February 17 urged the president to reverse the US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The letter contained several fallacies about the Western Sahara conflict and promoted a separatist view on the issue.
The response letter by Moroccans living in the US, a copy of which Morocco World News has received, seeks to correct these fallacies and raise awareness about the historical and legal context of the territorial dispute.
“As Moroccan Americans, we would like to place on record our dismay at the mischaracterizations, omissions, and outright lies contained in the letter,” the Moroccan authors wrote.
“Given the complexity of the conflict and the lack of familiarity of most Americans with its intricacies, historical, legal, cultural, and anthropological dimensions, we wonder whether your office did due diligence to double-check the spurious allegations contained in that letter,” they added.
The Moroccan community in the US accused the senators’ letter of being biased and resorting to misinformation in order to promote separatism in Western Sahara.
“The claim that Morocco took Western Sahara by force is disingenuous at best, for it is common knowledge that Morocco established post-colonial control of its Sahara by peaceful means,” the Moroccan letter said.
The document also highlighted how the senators’ letter considered the Polisario Front to be the Sahrawi’s only legitimate representative, omitting that a large part of the population in the Tindouf refugee camps, southwestern Algeria, come not only from Western Sahara, but also from Algeria, Niger, Mali, and Mauritania.
The Moroccan community in the US criticized how the senators’ letter strips the Western Sahara conflict from both its historical background and its recent developments.
“The letter gives the impression that the conflict began in 1975 and ended in 1991, when the UN established MINURSO. Nothing that happened before and after these dates seems to count as relevant history,” the Moroccan letter criticized.
The document went on to list a series of important facts that the senators’ letter omitted, including the fact that Morocco claimed Western Sahara in 1957 and was behind the UN’s decision to include it in its list of non-Self-Governing Territories.
“Between 1957 and 1973, the world had never heard of a people called Sahrawi,” the letter recalled.
The Moroccan community in the US also presented a detailed history of the UN-led political process in Western Sahara. They highlighted the UN Security Council’s realization in the year 2000 that a self-determination referendum in the region is unfeasible, as well as to its regular “welcoming” of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as a “serious and credible” solution starting 2007.
Providing a summary of UN Security Council resolutions over the past 13 years, the letter explained how the consistency of the resolutions’ language, which regularly “welcomed” Morocco Autonomy Plan proposal and merely “took note” of Polisario’s counterproposal, produced a customary law.
Taking into consideration the binding nature of UN Security Council resolutions, the Western Sahara issue can only reach a solution if it is mutually acceptable and based on compromise, the letter argued.
The document then explained how the decision of the Trump administration to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara is in line with international customary law and does not contradict any legal texts.
“The US has consistently supported an end to the conflict through compromise-based negotiations […] The claim that the US has supported the holding of referendum and it has a moral obligation to fulfill its commitment to the Sahrawis is misleading at best,” the letter said, criticizing the senators’ false claim that the US was in favor of a self-determination referendum in Western Sahara.
“No US administration has ever called for the holding of a referendum of self-determination,” the letter stressed.
The document emphasized that if it falls prey to the Algeria-tailored narrative on Western Sahara, the US would lose an important ally — Morocco — in favor of a not-so-reliable country — Algeria.
“Algeria […] has not shown itself to be a reliable US ally in the fight against terrorism,” the letter said.
“What’s more a leaked cable from the US Embassy in Algiers in 2013 informed then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Algerian intelligence reached a secret agreement with Algerian jihadists to concentrate their terrorism activities in Mali and attack Moroccan interests in Western Sahara,” the correspondence recalled.
The Moroccan community in the US denounced the security threat that the Algeria-backed Polisario Front poses in the region, as well as Algeria’s extensive procurement of arms from Russia — a part of which goes to Polisario.
“Algeria is Russia’s main military customer in Africa,” the letter said, emphasizing the risk that the Algerian-Russian arm deals pose for regional stability.
The letter highlighted a key factor that the US should take into consideration when dealing with Algeria, which is the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) — a legal text that imposes sanctions on any country that buys Russian weapons.
Due to its military deals with Russia, “Algeria is at odds with the CAATSA,” the letter stressed.
“Rather than endorsing the talking points of lobbying firms bent on maintaining the status quo in order to keep their lucrative contracts, it will behoove Congress to urge the Biden administration to take bold decisions that aim not to satisfy the views of some powerful voices in Washington, but to serve US interests in the region and to preserve its stability,” the correspondence concluded.