UK ambassador’s shortsightedness harms centuries-old ties with Morocco

UK ambassador’s shortsightedness harms centuries-old ties with Morocco

British ambassador to Morocco Simon Martin, better known by his storytelling performance in Marrakech Jemaa El Fna square, has seen his popularity plunge in the Kingdom following revelations by a UK parliament member, who accused him of blocking any progress towards the UK’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara, a decision the US, African and Arab countries, Caribbean states and Israel have already taken.

“During our visit to Morocco, we had a very unsatisfactory discussion on the phone with the British ambassador. As on many other occasions, the British ambassador tried to indicate that we cannot recognize Western Sahara because somehow this would impinge on our relations with our overseas territories, in particular the Falkland Islands. Yet, when I pressed the British ambassador to explain why and how this might be the case, no satisfactory answer was forthcoming,” conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski said at a parliament meeting.

Nearly a week later, the British ambassador has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations. His silence indicates the state of embarrassment he found himself in after his double-speak was laid bare.

As Morocco and the UK celebrate over 800 years of diplomatic ties, that date back to the Al-Mohade era in the 13th century, Ambassador Martin has shown shortsightedness in opposing recognition of Morocco’s rights to the Sahara.

Hostility to Morocco’s territorial integrity shows the double standards of the ambassador who ironically evokes in his public appearances the Anglo-Moroccan alliance of the 16th and 17th centuries, when the two kingdoms joined forces to contain the Spanish expansion plans.

Someone should remind him that Britain has since 1895 recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara territory as per the Moroccan British treaty.

“No power can lay claims to the lands that are between Oued Draâ and Cap Boujdour because those lands belong to the territory of Morocco,” reads the treaty.

Mr Martin is also well-aware of the seriousness of the accusation, at a time the North African Kingdom has made it clear that the Sahara issue is the prism through which it views its foreign relations.

His reportedly anti-Moroccan position goes in the opposite direction of economic ties between the two countries, with major power connections in the pipe that could offer clean energy to UK households.

Mr Martin should have better made his position clear on Morocco’s Sahara before telling stories to Moroccans in Jamaa El Fna square.

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