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“Sahrawis for Peace,” a movement opposed to Polisario’s claim of being the legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara, is drawing attention to the Polisario Front’s obstruction of the political process and calling for the immediate resumption of the UN-led dialogue.
In an April 19 letter to the UN Security Council (UNSC), the movement appeared to suggest that Polisario’s “headlong rush” into military confrontation has only deepened the region’s issues and prolonged the decades-long political stagnation.
The Sahrawi movement spoke of “the risks that are looming in the region following the unilateral breach by the Polisario of the ceasefire established since 1991.”
Guinea Bissau’s UN representative forwarded the latter to the UNSC president, Morocco’s state media reported on April 30. The letter was distributed to the representatives of the council’s 15 members and will soon be added to “the official records of the Security Council,” the report added.
Commenting on the document and Sahrawis for Peace’s motivation in addressing it to the UNSC at this “crucial moment,” Hach Ahmed, the movement’s secretary-general, said the region is “on the brink of the abyss” because of Polisario’s “stubbornness” and its repeated defiance of UN regulations.
Hach Ahmed is the brother of Bukhari Ahmed, Polisario’s former UN representative who died in 2018.
He argued Polisario’s leadership is more interested in confrontation and does not seem to care about the damage its “stubbornness” has caused in the region, in particular for displaced Sahrawis. Unlike the separatists, he explained, their movement is principally motivated by a desire to put an end to the suffering of families.
“It is more than ever urgent for the international community to make a firm commitment to advance the political process to achieve, as soon as possible, a just and lasting solution, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council.”
As he emphasized the need for a “lasting” political solution, Ahmed echoed the prevailing diplomatic consensus that Morocco’s 2007 Autonomy Plan is the only viable way out of the long-running Sahara crisis. The Sahrawis for Peace association is ready to support the UN’s “sustained efforts” to broker a political settlement built on compromise and dialogue, he concluded.
The move comes less than two weeks after the UNSC’s latest session on Western Sahara. Because the meeting ended without the customary, nearly-unanimous statement on what to do next to revive the stuttering UN-led political process, some observers were quick to suggest that the pro-Morocco momentum is not as strong as repeatedly reported.
Their claim that the pro-Morocco narrative is hyped and fragile is based on two assumptions – that the Biden administration may still reverse the former American president’s Western Sahara proclamation, and that the UNSC itself may eventually cave in to pro-Polisario pressure.
For others, however, the lack of a conclusive statement should not be particularly concerning. According to this reading, it is not particularly surprising that the latest UN session failed to arrive at consequential conclusions. If anything, this was just another delay on the slow but sure road towards recognizing Morocco’s position as the best and only feasible alternative.
While the debate between the two camps is set to rage on as the UN still grapples with the obvious next step in rescuing its Western Sahara diplomatic efforts – appointing a new envoy – at least the issue of the Biden White House’s position has largely been settled by now.
Despite warnings that the current US administration’s lukewarm statements on the Sahara topic should alarm Morocco, the latest indication that this is not exactly the case was US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first call with Morocco’s Nasser Bourita.
The official statements on the Blinken-Bourita phone call made no mention of Western Sahara. But according to Axios, which is generally well-informed on such politically sensitive topics, the two diplomats discussed at length about the recent Western Sahara developments and the US’ position.
“Blinken told Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in a phone call on Friday that the Biden administration would not reverse President Trump’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, at least for the time being,” Axios reported.
The “for the time being” caveat may yet again animate heady conversation about the ongoing, Post-Trump US-Morocco dynamics, but it may just be a diplomatic way for the Biden administration to embrace realpolitik in Western Sahara while distancing itself from Trump’s “say it as it is” rhetoric.