The statements of the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, on the Western Sahara have sparked a state of “controversy and anticipation” and fears of an “expected Moroccan-Algerian escalation”, after he described the issue as “the spectacle what Morocco looks at. the world.”
In his speech on Saturday on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the “Revolution of the King and the People”, which commemorates the “struggle against colonialism”, the Moroccan king praised Spain’s position on the issue of Western Sahara, which he said has. “Know very well the origin of this conflict and know its truth.”
On March 18, Spain radically modified its position on the sensitive issue of Western Sahara to publicly support the Moroccan autonomy proposal.
The Moroccan monarch considered the Sahara file “the lens through which Morocco looks at the world and the clear and simple yardstick by which it measures the sincerity of friendships and the effectiveness of partnerships.”
He called on “some partner countries of Morocco that do not clearly support Rabat’s position on the conflict in the Sahara to clarify their positions”, without naming any country, according to “AFP”.
My words have escalated and mutual accusations
Moroccan political analyst, Taj al-Din al-Husseini, points out that the Moroccan monarch’s statements are “linked to the tense positions of the Algerian regime on the issue of Western Sahara”, as he put it.
Al-Hussaini spoke to the Al-Hurra website about Algeria’s “diplomatically unacceptable attitudes” towards Spain and the countries that support the independence of Western Sahara, stressing that “Morocco considers the Sahara file as a measure that the level of relations between Rabat and other countries.”
The Sahara issue will be a “thermometer” to determine the nature of relations between Morocco and friendly countries that have “secretly and openly reserved supportive positions,” and therefore these statements aim to “gray positions on end the issue of Western Sahara,” according to Al-Husseini.
For his part, the Algerian political analyst, Nabil Jomaa, describes the Moroccan monarch’s statements as “opposition to the United Nations resolutions aimed at provoking Algeria and covering up the economic problems in Morocco.”
European countries supported the autonomy proposal submitted by Morocco to solve the problem of Western Sahara, including Spain, Germany, Serbia, Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary, Cyprus and Romania. The king said: “Thirty countries have opened consulates in the southern regions. (Sahara) to reflect their support for the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahara.”
The dispute over Western Sahara, between Morocco and the Polisario Front and its ally Algeria, is one of the oldest conflicts in Africa.
In his interview with Al-Hurra, Gomaa refers to “Algeria’s adherence to the position and resolutions of the United Nations and international law on the issue of Western Sahara,” stressing that it “supports the independence of the Sahara.”
The United Nations classifies Western Sahara, which is in dispute between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, among the “Non-Self-Governing Territories”.
Morocco, which controls about 80 percent of the disputed territory, is proposing to grant it autonomy under its sovereignty as the only solution to the decades-old conflict, while the Polisario Front, backed by neighboring Algeria, according to AFP, the region’s independence claim.
This conflict began after the independence of the Sahara from Spanish colonialism in 1975. The Polisario Front was founded a year later and took up arms against Morocco, demanding that the region, rich in fisheries and phosphates, be seceded and believe oil deposits The war only subsided after the United Nations intervened in 1991.
The United Nations is calling on Morocco, the Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania to resume negotiations stalled since 2019 “without conditions and in good faith” to reach a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution”. achieved, with the aim of “the fate of the people of Western Sahara.”
Jomaa spoke of “Moroccan pressure on European and African countries to support Rabat’s position on Western Sahara,” noting that “Algeria’s position on the issue is consistent and aims at reconciliation between Morocco and the Sahara.”
What are you going to do Rabat?
This data raised a new question, about Rabat’s options with countries that “take unclear positions regarding the Moroccanness of the Sahara”?
Middle East researcher Fadi Eid believes that Morocco has placed the issue of Western Sahara as a “priority” in its international relations, noting that “the files of joint cooperation and economic interests are no longer the only ones that determine the future of relations between Morocco and the rest of the world.”
Speaking to the Al-Hurra website, Fadi Eid ruled out Morocco’s tendency to escalate against the countries that oppose its vision of the Sahara issue, suggesting that “Rabat will continue to deal exclusively with these countries as it always did,” according to his expression. .
Al-Hussaini asserts that Morocco “will not take positions similar to those taken by Algeria towards countries that opposed its position on the issue of Western Sahara by severing relations or withdrawing ambassadors.”
Al-Hussaini spoke about the possibility of Rabat “limiting investment in Morocco, reducing the volume of trade exchange and reducing the level of Morocco’s support for these countries within the international community.”
Therefore, Morocco’s future positions will be limited by negative or positive attitudes of other countries towards the issue of Western Sahara, according to Al-Husseini’s speech.
How will Algeria react?
According to Fadi Eid, Algeria will consider these Moroccan steps as “an honest escalation against it and take countermeasures to respond to Morocco.”
Fadi Eid expects that “Algeria will restore its vision to some areas of Moroccan influence and impose its soft power in West Africa to ensure its dominance at the expense of Morocco there,” in response to Rabat’s statements.
At the same time, he points to the possibility of Algeria resorting to “military options”, especially after the visit of the chief of staff of the Israeli army to Morocco and the maneuvers of the African lion, which Algeria considers to be “political messages with a military character, ” according to Eid.
For the first time, at the end of June, Israeli military observers participated in the “African Lion 2022” exercises, which are the largest military exercises on the African continent, organized by Morocco and the United States, according to AFP.
Nabil Jomaa confirms that Algeria continues to support the Sahara, adopting the principle of “good neighborliness” and based on “UN resolutions”, and emphasizes the “impossibility of restoring relations between Morocco and Algeria” in light of these Moroccan escalating steps, as he stated. It.
On August 24, 2021, Algeria announced through its foreign minister, Ramtane Lamamra, that it was breaking diplomatic relations with Morocco and accused Rabat of carrying out “hostile acts”.
Algeria considers itself a “neutral party” between the Sahara and Rabat, but it does not accept the “Moroccan aggression against the Western Sahara and will continue to support the efforts for the independence of the Sahara,” said Jomaa’s speech.
The Polisario Front is demanding a referendum on self-determination under the supervision of the United Nations, which was decided upon when the ceasefire agreement between Morocco and the Front was signed in September 1991, according to “AFP”.
For his part, Taj al-Din al-Hussaini talks about “an unprecedented Algerian arms race at the expense of the basic needs of the people, forcing Morocco to arm itself to preserve the regional balance of power,” warning of “the devastation and destruction of the entire region, similar to what happened in Syria and Iraq,” he said.