History

U.S. to Approve $1 Million Grant to NGO in Western Sahara

Rabat - The U.S. State Department is expected to approve a USD 1 million grant for a program promoting “civil society and local governance” in the Western Sahara in southern Morocco, according to Al-Monitor.

The agency will award the grant to one or more non-governmental organizations under the auspices of the Near Eastern Affairs bureau’s Middle East Partnership Initiative. The new project will serve to strengthen bonds between the region’s inhabitants and their local government.

“The State Department is in the process of concluding negotiations on a civil society and local governance program in the Western Sahara,” a State Department official was quoted by Al-Monitor as saying.

A report from the foreign aid appropriations committee of the U.S. Congress says the funds will also “support democratic reforms” in the Sahara.

Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart told Al-Monitor in an emailed statement that Congress and the State Department are currently in consultations in order to ensure the program is executed within the compliance of the law.

“Morocco is an important ally in the region, and has worked hand in hand with the United States on a number of programs, reforms, and economic agreements,” the representative said. “I am confident that this program will be another positive and successful partnership between our two nations.”

Washington’s move comes amid an unprecedented tension between Morocco and United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, following the UN chief’s statements in which he described Morocco’s presence in the Western Sahara as "occupation."

The remarks caused un uproar in Moroccco and led the Moroccan government to expel the civilian component of the United Nations Mission in the Western Sahara, known as MINURSO.

In the midst of uncertainty over the US position with regards to the personal dispute between Morocco and Ban Ki-moon, the US Mission to the United Nations stated on its Twitter account last March that it still believes the Moroccan autonomy plan coud provide the basis for a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial dispute.

The statement was followed by a phone between King Mohammed VI and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. During the conversation, the US official stressed that his country’s position on the conflict remains unchanged.

Many believe the US move to provide the grant legitimizes the North African kingdom’s de facto soevreignty over the territory.

Analysts say a referendum on self-determination as called for by the Algeria-backed Polisario has no chances to be conducted, because of the irreconicliable positions of Morocco and the Polisarion on voter eligibility.

Faced with the impossibility to hold a refrendum, the Security Council started progressively changing its approach to the conflict. Beginning in 2007, the UN executive body called on the parties to work towards achieving an agreed upon and mutually acceptable political solution.

In April 2007, Morocco proposed an autonomy plan that would allow the Sahrawis to practice self-governance on regional issues. The same month, the Polisario presented a counter-proposal that gvae preeminence to the referendum with the option of independence.

When the Security Council adopted Resolution 1754 of April it took note of the Polisario’s proposa l while it welcomes Morocco’s autonomy plan as "serious, credible and reailstic option."

France, the United States, along with many of Morocco’s Arab and European allies, have backed the kingdom’s autonomy plaon several occasions and described it as a viable way to end the territorial dispute.

The official position of President Barack Obama's administration has been to support a “peaceful, sustainable and mutually agreed solution to the conflict.”

Comments

Editorial

Opinions

  • The Moroccan Gold Eldorado
    20

    The Moroccan Gold Eldorado, a Myth or a Reality?

    Rabat - Recently, a conspiracy theory video about a large gold discovery in Morocco is making rounds online. The video claims that a substantial gold reserve was discovered and is being extracted by a Canadian mining company called Maya Gold and Silver. We Moroccans are very proud human beings, we love our country and cherish...

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani
    20

    Qatar: How the Tables Are Turning in The Gulf

    Rabat - Amidst harsh sanctions and a long list of demands from its neighbors, Qatar’s ability to thrive under pressure may prove to be problematic for Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia and its coalition attempt to wait out Qatar, the recent spat in the Gulf continues to become more and more global, and severely against...

  • FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. If the nation doesn’t do more, the U.S. probably won’t quite meet the dramatic heat-trapping gas reduction goal it promised in last year’s Paris agreement to battle climate change, according to a new study. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
    20

    Climate Change : If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Fix It

    Chefchaouen - Climate change is happening at home and around the world. Chefchaouen is doing its part by embracing clean energy climate solutions and engaging its citizens in climate action. When it comes to fighting climate change, cities and local leaders are best positioned to lead that charge. Local leaders from coastal to landlocked communities are...

  • 20

    India Orders Internal Probe into Mistaken Use of Morocco-Spain Border Picture

    Hyderabad - The Indian Ministry of Interior on Wednesday ordered an internal investigation to find out how a picture of Morocco-Spain border was used in its annual report to show floodlights along the India-Pakistan border. What is most embarrassing is that the annual report of previous years was tabled during the Budget Session of Indian...

  • Amid Growing Tension, Thousands of Moroccans Stage Pro-Rif March in Rabat
    20

    Neglect in Harsh Soil: The Deep Roots of the Rif Crisis

    Rabat - The ongoing protests in northern Morocco started almost eight months ago, but they have their origin in nearly a century of violent repression by the state. The Rif has, in spite of itself, got involved into a peaceful revolt since the death of the fishmonger Mohcine Fikri at the end of October 2016, a...

  • Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani emir of Qatar
    20

    The Qatar Crisis: What Does It Mean?

    Rabat - The recent diplomatic fallout between Qatar and the rest of the Middle East could have serious economic and geopolitical consequences across the globe. Earlier this week, Qatar’s diplomatic crisis took an extreme turn as several Arab states severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation.  The original list of countries in the coalition against...

  • Moroccans spend Laylat al-Qadr, the 26th day of Ramadan, at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.
    20

    Ramadan: Not just Abstinence from Daily Intakes 

    By Abdellatif Oudra Rabat - The observance of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, compels Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. But it is not just about abstaining from food or drink.  Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed in commemoration of the revelation of Qur’an to the prophet Mohammad,...

  • Morocco Threatens to Terminate Agriculture Agreement with Europe
    20

    Morocco and the EU: Managing the Future

    Rabat - Morocco enjoys proximity to Europe and is at an advantage of being favoured by the European Union as a close partner on political, economic, and cultural levels. Historical archives and political legacies tie Morocco directly with at least three influential European countries: France, Spain, and England. Demography, kinship, and immigration compel other EU...

  • The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab Spring
    20

    The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab 'Spring'

    Rabat - In the last ten years or so, the Arab world has seen unprecedented collapses in the realms of politics and economy, among others. World NGOs regularly release area-specific rankings, in which Arab nations commonly rank at the bottom of lists in education, human rights, and income for instance while they top those of...

  • Thousands Hold Peaceful Demonstration in Memory of Mouhcine Fikri
    20

    Al Hoceima and the Pedagogical Exercise

    Ottawa - What makes a democracy different from non-democracy? This is the classical and historical question asked by philosophers over the centuries and deeply questioned in the discipline of political science. Democracy cannot prevent inequality as the case in the United States where inequality is the highest globally. Democracy cannot stop corruption like in Brazil...