WESTERN SAHARA: RESHUFFLING MOROCCO¹S DIPLOMATIC CADRE
Washington / Morocco News Board —
Now that Morocco decided not to cooperate with Mr. Christopher Ross, the United Nations Secretary-General’s (UNSG) Special Envoy on the Western Sahara, Moroccan and international observers are scrutinizing Rabat diplomatic maneuvers hoping to read Morocco’s next move. However, silence in the halls of the Moroccan Foreign Ministry could be a sign that the Moroccan diplomacy may lack a plan on how to proceed under these new circumstances. If that is the case, the long overdue reshuffling of Morocco’s diplomatic cadre in charge of the Sahara dossier may be in order.
The failure of Mr. El Othamani, Morocco Minister of Foreign Affairs, well intentioned but naïf rapprochement policy with the Military backed Algerian government and the solidification of the one party system in Algeria are reminders that Morocco’s failure to frame the Western Sahara conflict as an Algerian-Moroccan border dispute is at the root of the failure of the UN efforts. If Algeria’s position has not changed since its inception by the late Algerian President Boumedienne, Rabat has changed approaches but with limited successes.
According to several news agencies, both the UNSG and the United States restated their support for Mr. Ross who has called off plans to visit the region. Morocco’s assertion that Mr. Ross was “unbalanced and biased”, made the former American diplomat mission unsustainable. Although Mr. Ross latest report is biased, the Moroccan government’s decision to withdraw its confidence form the UNSG envoy remains “injudicious and sloppy”.
Western diplomats are wondering how Mr. Ross, a respected veteran American diplomat and a former U.S. Ambassador, could be biased towards the position of the Polisario Front, a Marxist guerilla group backed by an undemocratic Military junta in Algeria. In fact, Mr. Ross is not biased but rather his latest report is prejudiced.
As with any major United Nations report, U.N. staff, with the blessing of Mr. Ross, drafted the last annual UN report on Western Sahara. The anti-Morocco predispositions reside with the staffers who composed the language in the document. This fact begs the nagging questions, are Moroccan officials handling the Sahara dossier qualified, competent and experienced to handle such sensitive assignment?
The mélange of different, and some time competing, political, security and diplomatic entities in managing the Sahara affairs have been a major hindering to Rabat’s efforts to present a clear and concise “Moroccan solution” to the conflict. On several occasions, mishaps by personnel from the Ministry of Interior led to diplomatic fallouts that had to be “cleaned” by unsuitable diplomats. In more than one occasion, sloppy and tactless diplomats compromised Morocco’s efforts. Such missteps continue to have disastrous impact on Morocco’s efforts to advance its “Local Autonomy Plan for the Worsen Sahara”.
Moroccan diplomatic blunders in the Western Sahara have been in the most part self-inflicted. As the Algerian diplomacy keeps struggling in light of its disastrous support for the late Libyan dictator Gaddafi and its current silence and tactical support of the bloody regime in Damascus, the Moroccan diplomats are incapable and inept to gain “significant support” of their positions on the Western Sahara. A change in the diplomatic style and a more centralized control and command approach is necessary if Morocco is to win a durable international recognition for its presence in its Southern Provinces.