I write to respond to your article “Anouar Majid discusses Western Sahara conflict and Moroccan sovereignty”.
As I explain in my recent article Trump’s decision to recognise Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara is a unilateral decision that has been met with domestic and international rejection and outrage.
Trump’s decision is entirely contrary to what the International Court of Justice concluded in 1975, that Morocco did not have any claim to territorial rights in Western Sahara. Trump upended a longstanding bipartisan US policy on Western Sahara that has stood the test of time.
Responses to Trump’s surprising and controversial announcement have been quick to come from different parts of the world. The UN, the African Union, the European Union and many other nations have all reaffirmed that their positions on Western Sahara remain unchanged and that they support the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.
Former Secretary of State James Baker who served as the UN Secretary General Personal Envoy for Western Sahara said “it would appear that the United States of America, which was founded first and foremost on the principle of self-determination, has walked away from that principle regarding the people of Western Sahara. This is very regrettable.” Another former UN envoy for Western Sahara, Christophe Ross, described Trump’s decision as “foolish and ill-considered decision flies in the face of the US commitment to the principles of the non-acquisition of territory by force and the right of peoples to self-determination.”
With regard to Morocco’s so-called investment in Western Sahara, it’s worth noting that the Territory is rich in mineral resources, fisheries and with a great potential for oil and gas. Amongst the reasons behind Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara is its abundance of resources. As Western Sahara Resources Watch has documented all along the years Morocco’s investment is geared to facilitate and speed the exploitation of the resources of the Territory.
In order to keep its hold on the territory and continue the exploitation of the resources, Morocco has maintained a media blackout in the territory and a crackdown on any dissent from the local population.
Morocco has also obstructed the organisation of a referendum on self-determination as agreed under UN auspices which allowed a ceasefire to be declared in September 1991.
Morocco’s obstruction of the peace process and unrelenting violations of the terms of the ceasefire lead to a resumption of hostilities on 13 November 2020.
The only realistic, viable and lasting resolution to the conflict in Western Sahara is to allow the Saharawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through the organisation of a free and fair referendum in accordance with UN resolutions.
Polisario (Western Sahara) Representative to Australia