History

Western Sahara: We Must Make Saharaouis Stakeholders

By Majid Morceli

San Francisco - The latest UN resolution has vividly shown who are Morocco’s friends and enemies, as well as who is interested in keeping the conflict alive for eternity. Moroccan observers have been stunned by the Russians’ decision to vote for the UN resolution, assuming that the latest visit by the Moroccan king to Russia assured Russian backing on the North African kingdom’s sacred cause.

What these analysts failed to take into account is that Russia cannot afford to upset Algeria, which has been one of its most profitable military clients for decades. While Morocco can also be a lucrative business for the Russians and a useful intermediary between Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), given Rabat’s latest disagreement with the United States, they may not see it wise to align themselves with a country with a long history as a US ally, which will alienate the Algerian regime, a sure and reliable ally.

Moroccans do not understand the reason the United States refuses to go all out and support Morocco, a country that has been a strategic and staunch ally of the United States for decades and always supported the Americans regardless of the consequences. What Moroccans need to know is that the United States will only fully and unequivocally support one country and one country only and that is the state of Israel, but that's another topic.

The United States still supports the Moroccan autonomy proposal, a proposal that Ban Ki-moon wants to do away with. The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said after the vote, “The policy of the United States regarding Western Sahara has not changed. We consider Morocco’s autonomy plan serious, realistic, and credible. It represents a potential approach that could satisfy the self-determination aspirations of the people of Western Sahara.”

Morocco should focus on coming up with ideas to earn more support for the autonomy proposal, instead of focusing negatively on the debate between France and the US about the duration that the civilian section of MINURSO needs to return to full functionality.

Even though the US sees their interests first and foremost, Morocco cannot afford to lose the backing of the US. What the US did with the latest UN resolution is indirectly signal to Morocco that it is unpleased with its attempt to get closer to the Russians and that, for these efforts, there would be consequences.

The Russians proved the Americans right by not voting for the UN resolution. Morocco thought that a simple visit by the Moroccan king can change Russia's relationship with Algeria.

Morocco relies heavily on other countries for help in its sacred cause; this has to change. It is time for Moroccans living in the Sahara to start defending their cause. Many of the Polisario leaders who have returned to Morocco advised that, unless Sahraouis take matter into their own hands, the problem will never get solved. Morocco needs to speed up regionalization and investments recently announced by the Moroccan king in order for the inhabitants of the Sahara to start believing that Morocco is serious about changing the status quo.

The strategic alliance between Morocco and the GCC should serve as a golden opportunity to bring the king’s proposals to fruition and turn this relationship into a win-win situation for both sides. The GCC will profit from the return on their investments and Morocco would benefit from making the Sahara the gate of world investment in Africa.

Making the Sahraouis the stakeholders in their day-to-day lives can accomplish more than support or lack thereof from any outside country. More importantly, Sahraouis in Tindouf will no longer be satisfied living in camps under a dictatorship and will eventually rise up and start demanding to join their brothers and sisters in Morocco’s southern provinces.

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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