The recourse of the Polisario separatists to third country courts is a desperate attempt to sap efforts under the UN process to settle the Sahara issue, Former Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said in an article published on Dipulico website.
The former Spanish Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of settling the Sahara issue within the framework of the UN while warning of the Polisario’s attempt to derail the process through its resort to foreign courts as a tactical measure that undermines UN efforts to settle the four-decade long conflict.
In the article entitled, A Future for the Sahara, Palacio criticizes the Polisario’s propaganda campaigns claiming that the area beyond the security wall is a “liberated territory” in contrast with the area under de facto Moroccan sovereignty. The area beyond the berm is in fact administered by the UN, she noted.
“After the UN Security Council endorsed the call of Guterres to relaunch the negotiation process, the Polisario front pleaded at a civil court in South Africa to hold a ship loaded with phosphates originating from the Sahara,” recalled Palacio. “Few days later, the same challenge was reproduced in Panama to seize a vessel carrying Sahara phosphates. Except that the Panamanian justice refused the legal challenge,” she noted.
The Panamanian court decision to let the vessel continue sailing was dictated by the diplomatic and political nature of the case, she explained, deploring that South African authorities maintain seizure of the ship carrying Moroccan phosphates to New Zealand.
The former Spanish minister denounced the tactics used by the Polisario to plea at civil courts of third countries in a bid to undermine Morocco’s economic interests.
She pinpointed to the responsibility of Algeria, which has been called in Security Council Resolution 2351 as a party to the conflict. “A solution to the Sahara issue cannot be found without the contribution of all parties- notably the Polisairo and Morocco- but also neighboring countries, especially Algeria,” she made it clear.
Ana Palacio, who teaches at the Georgetown University, stressed the need for the international community to attach more attention to the Sahara issue on an equal footing with other territorial disputes in the Eastern China Sea or the Azeri-Armenian conflict on Nagorno Karabakh area.
In her article, she also laid bare Algeria’s propaganda campaigns against Morocco, saying that she visited the Sahara’s capital Laayoune last May, which she described as ” a vibrant city”. She explained that her visit to the Sahara aimed at “examining the activities of the OCP (Morocco’s state-owned phosphates company) upon recommendations from an international consultancy.”
“I realized that the OCP is a world-class producer with access to 70% of global phosphates reserves. The OCP operates in the Sahara through its subsidiary Phosboucraa, which represents only 8% of its turnover and nearly 1.6% of its revenues,” she said.
This represents a very meagre 6% proportion of overall OCP turnover, contrary to the claims of Algeria and the adversaries of Morocco’s territorial integrity who often accuse Morocco of plundering Saharan phosphates.
The Former Spanish Foreign Minister also highlighted the development efforts led by Morocco in the Sahara notably in terms of investments, infrastructure, training and agriculture, noting that Sahara phosphates revenues are invested in the region benefiting the Sharan population.