Today, Sunday, the United States officially launched the operation to open a consulate in Western Sahara, the last of the unstable former African colonies, which Morocco and the Polisario Front independents are calling for, according to Agence France-Presse.
Until the last moment, Moroccan and American diplomats allowed it to believe that the ceremony that was organized in the city of Dakhla, a fishing port south of Western Sahara, would have announced the opening of a temporary representation in this region.
The announcement of the opening of a consulate follows the agreement to normalize relations between Morocco and Israel, which must be accompanied by an American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the former Spanish colony.
But the operation “will continue for months,” admitted US Ambassador David Fischer, on Sunday, after visiting one of the proposed buildings to house the consulate in Dakhla, a port set to become a “regional maritime center” thanks to a huge investment project led by Rabat.
“It is an historic day,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East and North Africa Affairs David Schenker, during a press conference.
He pointed out that a month ago, the outgoing US President Donald Trump announced recognition of “Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara” and that “Morocco and Israel […] They were going to improve their diplomatic relations. “
The event, which was organized in the last days of Donald Trump’s term, conflicts with the position of the United Nations, which considers Western Sahara an autonomous region awaiting its final status.
This happens when the UN political negotiations on this desert region, which borders Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, stopped decades ago.
– ‘Frozen conflict’ –
Morocco, which controls about two-thirds of this region, wants “autonomy under control.” The Polisario Front, with support from neighboring Algeria, is fighting for independence and is calling for a referendum on self-determination, planned by the United Nations.
“We have worked with the United Nations to find a peaceful solution to this frozen conflict, and last month, President Trump recognized the inevitability and declared the obvious: This region is Moroccan and Morocco has the only reliable and lasting solution to this fate.” Fischer stressed.
The diplomat added, “Today it is about closing and ensuring the link” between Rabat and Washington, who, like other political ambassadors appointed by the outgoing president, will be forced to resign within ten days with the arrival of the new administration.
US President-elect Joe Biden has yet to comment on this issue.
After pressure from time, Trump’s teams rushed the terms of the agreement that made Morocco the fourth country to normalize relations with Israel, after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, while legitimizing its presence in Western Sahara. .
Three days after the agreement was announced, Washington adopted a new map of Morocco that integrates this territory. Ten days later, the first commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Rabat was chartered.
The US embassy said a “virtual” consulate aimed at simplifying bilateral exchanges was set up last week.
The agreement includes an investment of 3,000 million dollars (2,400 million euros), launched by the American Development Bank for “financial and technical support for private investment projects” in Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa.
Added to this is 818 million euros ($ 1 billion) from DFC for female entrepreneurship in the region.
– ‘Historic progress’ –
In addition to the financial aspect, the Moroccan power considers the United States’ ratification of its “Sahara” as a “historic diplomatic advance.”
Morocco feels stronger in its legitimate struggle for its territorial integrity […] “Thanks to the support of his friends,” Moroccan diplomatic chief Nasser Bourita said on Sunday.
The Polisario Front violated the ceasefire signed in 1991 under the auspices of the United Nations in mid-November after Morocco deployed its forces in a demilitarized zone on the border with Mauritania, with the aim of ensuring “security” in the country. The only highway to West Africa, which is often used by independence fighters.
Countries such as Comoros, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have opened diplomatic representations in Dakhla or Laayoune (north), which the Polisario considers in violation of international law.
sof / awa / es-bc / jvb