Rabat wants Paris to recognize Moroccanness of Sahara -US Think-Tank
The Moroccan government wants Paris, long-time ally and partner, to come out of the grey-zone and adopt a clear stand on the Sahara, said the U.S. Robert Lansing Institute (RLI).
In an analysis on Moroccan-French relations, the American Institute for Global Threats & Democracies Studies, based in Dover (Delaware) said the North African Kingdom has gained important international supports for its autonomy plan offered for the Saharan territory under its sovereignty in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.
The non-partisan public policy research center cites in this regard the supportive stand of the United States, the UAE, Germany, the former Spanish colonial power and several other European countries.
Ahead of the upcoming official visit of President Emmanuel Macron to Rabat this year, the Sahara issue started showing up in order to bring some political pressure on France. Moroccan Prime-Minister Aziz Akhannouch said “the time has come to get out of this situation”, underlined the geopolitical study.
France finds itself in a difficult position because it is caught in the crossfire between Rabat, demanding a clear stand on the Sahara, and neighboring rival Algiers which supports the Polisario Front, another enemy of Morocco, added the American center in its analysis.
Paris wants to maintain good relations with its two Maghreb neighbors, but their divergent positions make it difficult to be in a middle or grey equidistant zone.
In a recent interview with the French newspaper L’Opinion, Akhannouch said that “there are important developments in the Sahara issue following the recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Southern Provinces by the major powers”, and stressed that “Paris should not be a mere observer”.
The Moroccan PM affirmed that France should follow the “major developments” of the case. There are important mutual interests, which, in any case, are not threatened now, such as the economic relations, reassuring French investors.
For Akhannouch, Economic relationship with France must develop, and French investments in Morocco have always been free and welcomed with no restrictions, added the RLI research center.
The Sahara issue has seen important developments for Morocco, especially after the US administration of Donald Trump recognized the Moroccan sovereignty of the Sahara in December 2020.
Now Rabat expects Paris to clearly recognize its sovereignty over its Sahara, following in the footsteps of, for example, Spain, said the American study. The Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez recognized the Moroccan autonomy proposal as the “most serious, credible and realistic” way to resolve the Sahara issue.
A political move that served to fully re-establish relations between the European country and the North African Kingdom after the diplomatic crisis triggered by Madrid’s decision of hosting polisario leader Brahim Ghali under a false name in connivance with Algerian junta.
According to the American center, given the exceptional relations existing between Paris and Rabat, a clear French position on the Sahara is now required. France is also called upon to change its political approach in order to boost diplomatic ties with Morocco, which is a genuine strategic partner.
However, France is reportedly working to ‘find appeasement gestures’ in an attempt to put an end to the lingering diplomatic crisis with Morocco.
Last December, French FM Catherine Colonna said “France’s position on the Sahara is clear and consistent… We support the ceasefire and the efforts of the United Nations and the UN special envoy for the Sahara in his tours, and we hope for the return of the political process for a just and realistic political solution.”
King Mohammed VI and President Emmanuel Macron had a phone conversation that was viewed as an attempt to smooth the strained relations between Paris and Rabat following France’s decision to cut by 50 pc the number of visas issued to Moroccans.
For his part, during the meeting with his French peer, Moroccan top diplomat Nasser Bourita said that the time had come to make clear decisions and pointed out that “during the last three years there has been a remarkable development under the leadership of King Mohammed VI in the positions of several countries that are politically and geographically close to France”. “Paris is fully aware of the importance of the problem of the Moroccan Sahara for the Moroccans,” Bourita added.
France’s ambivalence on the Sahara makes it an unreliable partner for Rabat and some competitive foreign powers could use this ambiguous stand to undermine France’s position in North Africa, affirmed the American think-tank.