April 19, 2021
The Moroccan sovereignty of the Western Sahara expert panel by Republic Underground provided keen insights into the political processes now taken to ensure the resolution of the conflict. This was presented in the Q&A segment of the event, moderated by Timberwolf Phoenix LLC’s Irina Tsukerman.
The panel discussed some of the leading issues debated in the process. The experts addressed questions and misinformation surrounding the new U.S. consulate to the recognized region. Tsukerman addressed the question of the virtual US consulate in Dakhla. She noted that Morocco’s adversaries attempted to spread disinformation in this regard, claiming that this virtual presence was an intentional shift in U.S. policy toward the newly recognized process. Tsukerman noted that she believed the best way to put speculation to rest was to discuss possibilities in practical terms. She noted the issues of disinformation surrounding the physical consulate opening, as well as regarding the Sahara conflict as a whole.
Flanagan noted that the consulate would have a prominent role in enforcing this continuation of processes and cited Morocco’s efficacy thus far in extending consulate service to the people.
“The Consulate will legitimize the process of Morocco continuing loving its people,” said Flanagan, referring to the regional vice presidents on the panel and the processes they had detailed. He noted the importance of economic and regional growth that the U.S. Embassy will serve to enforce.“I believe the consulate is incredibly important, perhaps more important than any other consulate in the world with regards to its political situation,” said Flanagan. He then noted the importance of the consulate in terms of serving as a “frontline bulwark” for the integration of those who have, until recently, been under the loosely defined leadership of the Polisario.“As they integrate, and I believe they will, it will be directly through this region, and that consulate will be very important,” he said, noting that the consulate was not just a “symbol of international blessing” but it is important as a symbol of the U.S. friendship with Morocco, and enforcement of their integration efforts as the sovereign in this region.
“Thank you so much. To address another related challenge, COVID has forced the closure of many structures around the world, not just in Morocco. There has been a virtual consulate service available, and those services have been uninterrupted. Again, to address some of the disinformation. Again, I think we can all agree that the last thing anyone would want is for long-term allies of the U.S. to fall victim to partisan bickering,” said Tsukerman, focusing on the physical position of the consulate.
“To that effect, I direct my question, too, regarding the function of the consulate, what role can it play in the future, once everything opens up, in facilitating not only its function of providing visas and so forth, but also in serving and important diplomatic role in the U.S. and a role in engaging in infrastructural and people-to-people issues?”Abba Mohamed, vice president of Laayoune, addressed the question, noting the historical importance for the Moroccan regions in focus.
He stated the region in focus has a geographical position that is a short flight to the United States, no more than four to five hours, and that American companies are interested in establishing the business in the region, a purpose for which the consulate services are integral.
He also noted how previous U.S. administrations had recognized the importance of Moroccan regional sovereignty for the economic development process of the Sahara. He noted that the presence of consulate services and economic stability brought on by cooperation would benefit Europe as well. He listed, likewise, the number of incoming consulates from the west.
Tsukerman noted that France was likely on the list to open a new consulate in Morocco, following a western trend of opening consulates in Laayoune and Dakhla. Ghalla Bayia, vice president of Dakhla, then added context to the consulate process.
“I just want to add that the virtual consulate is already operating. Already, we receive large American investments that are searching for opportunities,” she said, noting that Dakhla expects a large U.S. investment that will create many jobs.
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