Israel Offers Support to Morocco on Western Sahara After Summit – The Organization for World Peace
On March 27, Israel hosted a historic summit where the foreign ministers of Morocco, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the United States met to discuss a myriad of international issues. They also met to illustrate successful steps towards normalizing relations between Israel and Arab countries in the Middle East. During the two-day retreat in Sde Boker, Morocco broached the subject of the long-disputed region of Western Sahara, where Israel later expressed support for the country’s proposed autonomy for the desert on the northern coast. -West Africa.
Ultimately, Morocco regards Western Sahara as its own, while the Polisario Front demands that it be a sovereign state. Thus, Western Sahara has been the subject of a protracted territorial dispute between Morocco and its indigenous Sahrawi people, led by the Polisario Front, which is an independent group backed by the kingdom’s rival Algeria. A former Spanish colony, the territory of Western Sahara was illegally annexed by Moroccan and Mauritanian military invasion and occupation in 1975 after Spain withdrew.
Today, as detailed by the United Nations, Western Sahara is the only African territory still under colonial occupation. Moreover, by this event, Morocco and Mauritania violated the 1975 ICJ declaration that no nation has territorial sovereignty over Western Sahara. A year later, the Polisario Front, recognized by the UN as “the only legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people”, announced the creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as an independent state. Following this, a 16-year armed struggle between the kingdom and the independent movement lasted until a ceasefire was reached in 1991. However, the Polisario declared the ceasefire void in 2020 and has since launched new attacks against Moroccan forces.
In this proposal, first submitted in 2006 to the UN, Morocco would grant autonomy to the people of Western Sahara, and the Sahawaris would run their government under Moroccan sovereignty. In addition, it should be noted that Morocco would control the territory’s defense and foreign affairs. Although the United States and Israel have announced strong support for Morocco’s autonomy plan to resolve the long-running conflict, as well as signal support from Spain, many international organizations, including the UN, do not recognize Moroccan control, instead calling the West the Sahara a “non-self-governing territory”. Furthermore, under international law, Western Sahara is not a legal part of Morocco, and it remains under international laws of military occupation.
With the help of the Trump administration, Israel has managed to establish diplomatic relations and forge new peaceful ties with four Arab League countries, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco since 2020. Foreign Police notes that it is assumed that these normalization agreements were driven by self-interest, such as favors and closer proximity to the United States. Thus, it can be assumed that Israel’s recent support for Morocco’s plans for Western Sahara serves as a quid pro quo. Furthermore, the summit mainly addressed concerns over the Iran nuclear deal. Therefore, it is in the interest of Israel and Morocco to strengthen their relationship, through means such as the proposal, in order to facilitate a unified front against the Iranian threat. In addition, Morocco officially severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2018 because the latter country financed the Polisario Front, said AlJazeera.
Morocco and the Polisario Front are still unable to reach an agreement, referendums and compromises having failed thanks to the mediation of international organizations. The disintegration of the 30-year ceasefire organized by the UN and the recent violent escalation occurred mainly when the UN did not implement the referendum, thus creating a long-lasting political stagnation of the situation. ; where the frustration and negative outlook regarding Western Sahara has now burst above the surface. As Antonio Guterres announced, the conflict has “considerably deteriorated” and the “resumption of hostilities between Morocco and the Polisario Front is a major setback towards the achievement of a political solution”. It is a rather disappointing situation, where if open and fruitful communication had been the priority over the past decades, this dispute would be very different today, and peaceful resolutions might have already been established.
Now, it is crucial that international organizations get down to work to find a peaceful solution that works for all parties involved. The EU, Amnesty International, the UN, the African Union and the major nations that have historically and currently been engaged in the conflict must put aside their past differences and work together to come up with a solid plan. This will reduce the violence seen in the territory and create space for positive change. It is important to remember that although this issue may appear as an isolated dispute, it has far-reaching consequences: for the countries directly affected, the region in general and the international community at large.
In addition, the conflict has human, political and economic impacts due to violence and instability in and around the territory, claiming many victims. Moreover, the current UN peacekeeping mission, MINURSO, must conduct the referendum in Western Sahara with more pressure, as this has exacerbated diplomatic inaction. Suppose the UN and similar organizations and nations are genuinely passionate about resolving the Western Sahara conflict and ending the violence, pain and displacement that civilians have had to endure. In this case, there must be a dedication to put more resources into this conflict. As the crisis worsens and more nations break diplomacy to form direct sides, real steps must be taken to invest more resources in the peace talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front. If few changes are made or revised in this regard, there will be no end to one of the oldest disputes, and the region will continue to be plagued by instability.