Questions and Solutions summit regarding Morroco’s Western Sahara sovereignty

Press Release | Republic Underground, Timberwolf Phoenix LLC 

April 14, 2021 

Questions and solutions for the region, as Morocco is recognized by the United States as the regional sovereign over Western Sahara

As one of its final acts, the Trump administration recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region. This was a step by the western world to solve the bitter regional feud over the proper territorial claim of the Western Sahara, which is the region of Morocco’s southern provinces. 

During the panel moderated by Timberwolf Phoenix-LLC’s media vice president Irina Tsukerman, regional and diplomatic experts joined a chorus of voices discussing issues of recognition and proposed solutions to dissipate the feud over the territory. 

Irina Tsukerman, as moderator, opened the event by inviting viewers watching the livestream to leave questions. After this, each panelist presented a statement on the status of policy and diplomacy regarding Morocco’s Western Sahara. They also proposed solutions to the region’s issues. 

 

Encourage the UN to focus its efforts on supporting the political process.

The USA should stand against the misuse of international law and the principle of self-determination to destabilize and disintegrate independent states and our allies. According to international law, the principle of self-determination does not apply to the territory of Western Sahara, which is geographically and historically an integral part and a continuum of the kingdom of Morocco and shares the same ethnical, religious and cultural characteristics.16. The USA has no interest in tolerating a non-state actor that threatens the security and stability of its oldest ally as well as regional security.

Nancy Huff, the founder of Teach the Children, shared insights regarding Polisario  
Huff previously worked with the Polisario for humanitarian aid from 1999 to 2007.
Huff noted that, during her work with the region and with the Polisario, the organization is not held responsible for any of its actions.

Huff suggested implementing controls that will hold Polisario accountable for their actions, rather than taking their testimony of the region at face value. Huff likewise noted that deradicalization and education aid for Polisario members, repatriated as Moroccan citizens, was vital, and that providing opportunities for the region gets vulnerable parties out of the mindset that no options exist for them.

Irina Tsukerman also added a recommendation to Huff’s statement 

Tsukerman stated that, as someone who had visited Dakhla, she had noted that Huff’s statement regarding deradicalization was a prominent discussion point of the issue. She noted that efforts toward deradicalization and repatriation of the Polisario as Moroccans are central to the discussion of ending the Western Sahara crisis.

Michael Patrick Flaganan, a former U.S. representative of Illinois, advised the Biden administration on consistent policy

Flanagan noted that, while the United States under Trump’s administration. He compared the region of Western Sahara to a state of a federation like Florida is to the United States. He stated that Western Sahara’s regional autonomy is within the context of also being part of Morocco.

Continue to support the U.S.’ oldest friend Morocco, which was the first sovereign to recognize the United States.

To bring in Algeria as part of the process, and engage them as friendly regional partners. Then, to bring Polisario into line with international law.

Flanagan noted that Trump’s administration’s policy toward Morocco has not been inconsistent with previous administrations. As the United States has finally made a formal decision regarding Western Sahara, Flanagan advised that consistency in policy is in the best regional interest.

Flanagan likewise suggested further developments of the regional Chamber of Commerce, an extant entity that requires further investment to reach its full potential, which could act as a “cradle” for economic activity in the region.

Ghalla Bahiya: spoke as vice president of the Dakhla Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira region, which consists of 150,000+ inhabitants.

Ghalla was democratically elected in the previous election. Ghalla is likewise appointed by the United Nations to speak on behalf of her region of Morocco at high-profile meetings such as C24.

Ghalla stated that her region has become a hub for local and economic developments that benefit the entire region, with an agriculture and irrigation production that is well under development. The region has an international airport and two courts as part of its robust infrastructure development. The infrastructure development will promote international trade with Eastern Africa and the world.

Ghalla stated that development in this region will truly open her region as a “gateway to Africa.”

Ghalla stated that Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara has a common goal of international law and cooperating with the United States in the region, as the decision has been. She stated that what is the right thing to do is fight against terrorism. She also stated that it is wrong to delay the process of exchange of goods by supporting the Algerian-backed Polisario that will hinder the process in this region.

She stated that it was important to build stronger cooperation in the region and to empower the Moroccan sovereignty in Dakhla. Support of the region will strengthen infrastructure and boost the efforts of human rights, such as the fight against the recruitment of child soldiers.

Richard DWeitz made a series of recommentations encouraging the UN to focus support of the political processes :

DWeitz noted that it should be the goal of the Biden administration to keep northwest Africa as a region of stability and to enforce collaboration between Morocco, the rest of Africa, and the Middle East. He stated that this building on a long history of U.S. and Moroccan regional collaboration.

He highlighted a list of comprehensive actions for continued progress under the Biden administration.

He stated that the U.S. should move to work with Morocco as a progressive voice in northwest Africa, that the U.S. should address pressing regional crises in Libya and the Sahel to promote regional progress.

In conclusion, he noted that the nation should recognize and address increasing evidence of malign Iran and Hezbollah activity in North Africa and its collusion with armed nonstate actors like the Polisario. To this end, he suggested that the U.S. proactively support the Morocco-Israel relations as a lever for stability in the region linking two strategic allies.

Abba Mhamed, the vice president of the Laayoune region, then highlighted the region then highlighted the developments in the region he was elected as the regional and international representative of in 2015. 

He stated that the recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region was a great stride in the cooperation between the U.S. and Morocco. Mhamed noted Morocco had developed a comprohensive plan that will be all-inclusive for the cases of human rights, women’s rights, NGOs, security, and economic development, that would work toward ending the crisis in the region.

He then detailed the strategic values of the Moroccan Economic Plan, and expressed the dynamics of two friendly countries, while reiterating his hopes for the American federal government to continue to support Moroccan sovereignty in the region, to mediate and influence Algeria’s acceptance of responsibility for its role in the conflict, and to find solutions to the locale’s humanitarian disaster, and likewise to promote the repatriation of the Western Saharan populace.  Elisabeth Meyers, a lawyer and former editor for Inside Arabia reiterated the statements of the speakers, and noted the importance of economic stability especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of Mr. Jensen, the Head of Mission, MINURSO, Irina Tsukerman read his statements regarding the Western Sahara political tensions, as wells as series of recommendations for proceeding with the diplomatic proceses. 

Erik Jensen,

Head of Mission MINURSO

Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Western Sahara, 1993-98.Author of:‘Western Sahara –Anatomy of a Stalemate’, IPA, 2005, ‘Western Sahara – Anatomy of a Stalemate?’ (Second Edition), 2012 The dispute over Western Sahara has staggered from one blockage to another; only radical decisions have moved the process forward. The original settlement plan sponsored by the UN Security Council was based on irreconcilable views.

Despite a long, mammoth effort to implement the plan, during most of which I was the UN mission head, the need became obvious for an alternative, a realistic alternative. I achieved the breakthrough in 1996 (GENEVA) and brought Morocco and the Frente Polisario, with Algeria implicated, together for negotiations: the subject regional autonomy. Both sides agreed to an agenda that I defined graphically by referring to a rectangular table: off one end independence, of the other straightforward integration. I chopped off one then the other. For discussion was what remained on the table, both extremes excluded: in short, some degree of autonomy. The talks went far better than had been expected, perhaps too fast. The implications so worried at least one side that the talks, which had been secret, were erased from the record. It was an idea, a good idea, whose time had yet to come.

 In 2007 Morocco presented a regional autonomy proposal which was endorsed by the Security Council as serious and credible and widely welcomed as a realistic compromise. Since then Morocco, markedly under King Mohamed, has taken intensive steps to build international political support, not only in Africa. Numerous states have responded, providing visible signs of their support by opening consular offices in the territory.

President Trump’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty has provided a radical game-changing move by committing the United States. America has been developing its relations with Morocco in many ways but the latest decision inevitably provides an impetus to resolving the Western Sahara dispute at long last, by compelling all concerned to face reality. In August 2008, Van Walsum concluded before the Security Council that an independent Western Sahara was not a realistic goal.

In negotiation neither side can expect to get all it wants, compromise is inescapable. But both benefit.

Only in a spirit of realism and compromise, with the neighboring countries and the United States contributing, will Morocco, Algeria, and the Polisario arrive at resolving peacefully a conflict which has seen a generation of refugee existence, burgeoning security threats, and been a costly block to regional cooperation and Maghreb development.

The conference resulted in a number of policy and implementation recommendations, including:

1. Support Morocco’s efforts to solve this longstanding conflict, in full respect of Morocco’s sovereignty, and reiterate the call for a political solution based on the autonomy proposal, as the only solution to the conflict.

2. Encourage Algeria to genuinely contribute to the UN efforts aiming at reaching a political solution, in a spirit of realism and compromise; only such an approach can end the suffering of refugees, curtail security threats and allow regional integration and cooperation in the Maghreb.

3. Empower the U.S Consulate in Dakhla in order to facilitate contacts between local economic operators and their American counterparts.

4. Continue to support efforts of the region aiming to strengthen infrastructures, which are vital for the wellbeing of the population.

5. Support the UN-facilitated political process and urge Algeria to assume its responsibility as the real party to the conflict.6. Address the humanitarian disaster in the Tindouf camps and facilitate the return of the population detained in the camps to their mother country.7. Foster investments and US assistance to the development in the region, in line with the Free Trade Agreement between the USA and Morocco.

8. Encourage the UN to focus its efforts on supporting the political process.

9. Call out the Polisario front for its destabilizing and provocative actions and encourage Algeria to exercise its responsibilities as host of the Polisario

10. Channel US assistance and investments to the Western Sahara region to support the socio-economic development of the local population.

11. Work actively to support the Morocco-Israel relations as a lever for stability in the region linking two strategic allies.

12. Recognize and address increasing evidence of malign Iran/Hezbollah activity in North Africa and its collusion with armed nonstate actors like the Polisario.

13. Enhance and amplify Morocco-US-Africa triangular cooperation as an effective tool to counter great power competition on the continent.

14. Work with Morocco as a moderate, progressive voice in northwest Africa to address pressing crises in Libya and the Sahel.

15. The USA should stand against the misuse of international law and of the principle of self-determination to destabilize and disintegrate independent states and our allies. According to international law, the principle of self-determination does not apply to the territory of Western Sahara, which is geographically and historically an integral part and a continuum of the kingdom of Morocco and shares the same ethnic, religious, and cultural characteristics.

16. The USA has no interest in tolerating a non-state actor that threatens the security and stability of its oldest ally as well as regional security.

Support the UN-facilitated political process and urge Algeria to assume its responsibility as the real party to the conflict.