Hassan Hami
10 January 2024

Sahara Dispute: The Ping-Pong Game is Over

The US recognition and the prevalence of the compromise and realism principles in the UN-led political process suggest that Morocco has won the political, diplomatic, and military war over Western Sahara.

“What is wrong?” “What do they want?” “Why do they keep on teasing us and adding fuel to the fire?” These are some of the many questions Moroccans ask when it comes to assessing the strained relationship between Morocco and Algeria. 

Diplomatic relations between the two neighbors are cut off mainly because of the regional conflict over the Sahara. Now, Moroccans ask similar questions about France. “What does France want?” “What is preventing France from disclosing classified archives that could help put an end to the Sahara dispute?” “Why wouldn’t France follow in the footsteps of Spain and other European countries, who have all embraced Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the best solution and the only option still on the table to sustainably settle the Sahara dispute?”

It would be naive to think that it would be easy to give a satisfying answer. It is true, and very obviously so, that everything in this dispute is linked to geopolitics. But geopolitics evolves, too. And the parties to every conflict worldwide should evolve accordingly. Unfortunately, this has rarely seemed to be the case. 

Independent observers get ambivalent feelings when they try to assess articles, studies, and papers written about minor or forgotten conflicts. Most wouldn’t understand why some issues are either forgotten or deliberately put off radars. They understand that behind-the-scenes, there are actors who feed on stories that impact public opinion. Still, they don’t get it all. Unless a statement or “right to answer” comes into the spotlight and changes the rules of the game, the feelings are not affected. 

This was what happened on the occasion of the Non-Aligned Movement’s virtual meeting on July 13–14, 2022. The Moroccan head of delegation used his “right to answer” to dismiss the Algerian foreign minister’s allegations about the Western Sahara issue. The Algerian diplomat had claimed that Morocco was occupying the territory and that the Sahrawi people had to exert their right to self-determination.

In making such claims, the Algerian diplomat chose to ignore all developments and changes that have taken place in the UN-led political process since 2007. This date is very important because it was when the UN definitely ruled out the option of a referendum, which all resolutions of the UN Security Council (UNSC) have accordingly upheld since then. 

The head of the Moroccan delegation said, as a matter of teasing his Algerian colleague, that if Algeria was so keen to see the right to self-determination fully implemented everywhere on the face of the earth, it should first grant that very right to the Kabyle people.

This episode, among others, led Algeria to sever its diplomatic relationship with Morocco. Furthermore, over the last two weeks that followed, the bilateral tension increased again when, through media outlets, people started to mention Eastern Sahara, formerly a Moroccan territory annexed by France and inherited by Algeria in 1962. 

Amid the unearthing of such nervous historical records for Algeria, the head of Morocco’s Royal Documents Directorate made even more critical comments on the issue on February 21 of this year, when she underlined that Morocco has archives of documents confirming the country’s roots and long-standing history in its Sahara regions, including Eastern Sahara.

Whoever lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones 

Bearing this in mind, it would be legitimate to put under scrutiny the principle of the inviolability of boundaries inherited from colonization that has served as an alibi for Morocco’s rivals to deny the country’s right to recover territories it had lost as a result of French and Spanish colonization. For the record, Algeria and many other African countries have used this principle in the post-colonial era. 

This also indicated how fragile this argument could be when countries labeled “avant-gardists” for fighting colonialism and imperialism lose ground on the geopolitical chessboard. However, Morocco has never made it public or private that it would consider withdrawing from the 1972 border treaty, even though it claims its right to see the agreement fully respected, which Algeria doesn’t.

When one takes a look at the geopolitical chessboard in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, one cannot help but admit the utter confusion of what is going on. A key question to keep in mind is: “Why is it that a few countries adopt a double-standards position and don’t change their minds vis-à-vis the Saharan conflict?” Or: Why do they show such fierce behavior to oppose Morocco’s argument with respect to its right to claim  its southern provinces?

The positions a few countries and apologists of the Polisario Front’s separatist dreams have adopted to challenge Morocco’s argument have proved to be outdated and even weird. Particularly striking many of the countries that sympathize with the Polisario Front  all are or have been subject to wars that dissident movements have waged against their territorial integrity. In Africa, the list includes South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria, and Mali.

In Europe, a few countries have been putting forward what they call the international legal principles. They argue that a principle such as “self-determination’’ should be respected no matter what. Fair enough. However, when we dig deep, we find that these countries stick to this principle because it serves their national interests. Topping this list are the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom, and France.

There is another category of countries that use the “self-determination’’ and “territorial integrity” principles from the à la carte menu. Turkey, Greece, Serbia, and most of the Central European countries do it. Another category involves countries in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Latin America. All these countries surf quite intelligently with the wind. Their aim is to defend their national interests and make amends for diplomatic or geostrategic mistakes made in the past.

Finally, there is a category of countries that defend the right to self-determination by citing the cases of Timor-Leste, South Sudan, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. They include these cases in what are called “frozen conflicts.” Some are somehow solved or kept on standby for future international fights for strategic bargain.

This paper will try to understand the rationale behind the strategic choices that some of the above-mentioned countries have made with respect to the regional conflict over the Sahara. The focus will be primarily on Africa and Europe.

Let us start with the first category of African countries. This includes South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mali, Mauritania, and Algeria.

South Africa shows aggressive behavior toward Morocco for no apparent reason. Why? The answer is that the country itself is subject to a potential wave of separatism. Everybody remembers the giant banner that the Casablanca Raja Club fans exhibited on January 20, 2023, to respond to Zwelivelile Mandela, Mandela’s grandson, making anti-Morocco remarks in Algiers, saying that “Western Sahara was the last colony in Africa.” The Raja banner read: “Little Mandela, the only colony left in Africa is Orania.’’

Orania, located in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape Province, is called “South Africa’s white-only town.” The reaction in South Africa went viral. And international media talked about it, shedding light on one of the numerous domestic issues that independent, post-Apartheid South Africa is still suffering from. For the record, back in 1960, Morocco was among the first independent countries to support South Africa’s now ruling African National Congress (ANC). Evidence and genuine archives exist in this respect.

So, why is South Africa among the supporters of Polisario’s separatist agenda in southern Morocco?  One of the plausible explanations is the recent history of the country. Before 1909, South Africa was divided into four provinces: Cape, Natal, Transvaal, and Free Orange. The same year, the provinces were merged as a result of the territorial division between British and Afrikaners. This also was a direct consequence of the Anglo-Boers War. The native South Africans lived in the rest of the country and served as second-class citizens working for the white minority.

In 1994, the transitional government adopted a new administrative organization. It was intended to solve pending issues that resulted from the post-Apartheid years. The new constitution adopted the principles of cooperative government with three spheres: national, provincial, and local, which are distinctive, interdependent, and interrelated. Sovereignty was thus respected while local democracy was highlighted.

From the very beginning, the most challenging task the new leaders faced—with Nelson Mandela at the top of the list—was how to make the new institutions work. They were clever enough to engineer a process of inclusion instead of a process of exclusion. These are very interesting elements that make the South African enmity against Morocco absurd. We find the three above mentioned elements very salient in the Morocco Autonomy Plan. Moreover, the Plan goes even further. 

Raja fans’ recalling of the case of Orania was to a large extent meant as some sort of wake-up call to push the South African decision-makers to mind their own business. The stage is set for the South African elite to make up their minds and consider choosing between ideology, which they use as a means of legitimizing their power, and the state institutions themselves, which represent the state’s legitimacy.

It is quite certain that South Africa is not immune from the risk of separatism. The country’s economic and social situation has been worsening over the last few years. It has also witnessed a number of high-profile political scandals over the past couple of years. An ancient format of self-government based on ethnic and white-black divides could erupt at any moment.

Few independent observers perceive South Africa’s behavior toward Morocco as a consequence of its sharp economic and political desire to play a leading role in Africa. Morocco has been growing in prominence as a regional, continental power. It is ranked as the second biggest African investor (and number one in West Africa.) South Africa’s support of a dissident movement in cahoots with Algeria has to be understood as a means to halt Morocco’s ambition to be an emerging, independent economic and political power on the African scene. 

The case of other African countries is more intriguing. Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Angola all faced attempts at dissidence and separatism before and after their independence.

In Nigeria, the Biafra War that took place between 1967 and 1970 is not forgotten. Back then, it resulted in the establishment of the Biafra Republic State, which lasted for a short period of time. Had Great Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union not intervened, Nigeria would have lost this part of the country. If the option of self-determination were fully applied, Nigeria would end up moving from a federative state to being split into multiple independent entities.

Kenya faced the same danger of partition during the Mau Mau ethnic group’s revolt from 1950 to 1956. Despite the fact that Mau Mau’s revolt was motivated by economic and social unrest, some obscure interests sought to use it for political purposes. The nationalism that Kenyans are so proud of stems from the legacy of their resistance against the Germans in 1890–1920 and against the British in 1956–1963.

The ethnic dimension is also present in Kenyans’ political culture. People continue to praise the legacy of Jomo Kenyatta, who hails from the Kikuyu ethnic nation. Therefore, it seems quite strange that successive Kenyan governments denied Morocco the right to enjoy something that they fought for to defend their nation’s territorial integrity. Maybe in their defense, some would say that they stick to Jomo Kenyatta’s legacy, but this doesn’t make it a strong argument.

Angola, for its part, suffered a lot from the same syndrome of separatism. Indeed, in 1975, the Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (FLEC) proclaimed Cabinda an independent state. Located in the north of the country, Cabinda is renowned for its important reserves of hydrocarbons.

Despite the fact that the FLEC existed before the establishment of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), Portugal resolved to exclude its representatives from the negotiations for independence. Cabinda province was finally attached to Angola in 1976. However, FLEC has offices in Paris and Congo-Brazzaville and made some noise in 2010 and 2013. So, the risk of separatism is still there.

Zimbabwe presents a different story. In 1965, the white minority government declared independence from the United Kingdom as Rhodesia. The guerilla movements led by the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) during the 1960s and 1970s culminated in a peace agreement. 

The Black majority seized power in 1980. ZAPU-FP succeeded in getting a grip on power until 2017, when its leader Robert Mugabe was deposed. The image of the Blacks vs. the Whites has been reflected in Zimbabwe’s foreign policy. It seems that Zimbabwe sought to see the universal enfranchisement it got in 1980, prior to its independence, applied everywhere.

For years, the country got involved in regional conflicts, mainly in Mozambique. In 1998, for the sake of supporting an ideological ally, it intervened in Congo-Kinshasa to help Laurent-Desire Kabila. It is no surprise then that ZAPU-FP and other political parties associated Morocco with what Zimbabwe suffered under white minority rule. Under Algeria’s convincing candid arguments of different kinds, Zimbabwe has not changed its position vis-à-vis Morocco, even after the departure of Mugabe.

There is also the case of Namibia. Namibia’s enmity against Morocco is intriguing. For the records, the country has been threatened by separatism. During the period from 1995 to 1999, the Caprivi Liberation Army waged an insurrectionary war to take over the Caprivi Strip. This movement declared its alliance with the Angolan UNITA, which smeared its reputation. Indeed, UNITA had been accused of siding with South Africa in fighting the South West Africa’s People’s Organization (SWAPO). In 2002, the Itengese nation severed all ties with Namibia and proclaimed its Free State of Caprivi Strip. Not internationally recognized, this entity is a permanent headache for the Namibian government.

For their part, Mali, Niger, and Algeria have been faced with the Tuaregs’ rebellion in at least three phases. This happened in 1963 and 1964, in 1986, and in 1990–1996. The Tuaregs’ aspiration for an independent national state is well known. This is a source of great concern for the above-mentioned countries as well as for Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Libya.

The Tuaregs, who have a long tradition of resistance to foreign influence, have long defied their inclusion in the postcolonial states. This resulted in the inception of dichotomous political movements claiming better economic and social rights. Not really advocating irredentism in the beginning of their fight, they are now not ruling out the option of establishing all Tuaregs in one territorial state.

Algeria used the Tuaregs’ problem to advance its own agenda in the Sahel region. It didn’t hesitate to team up with international crime networks. Algeria did it to blackmail Mali, mainly to push Bamako to support its stand on the regional conflict over the Sahara. Algeria has had less success with Niger. Mauritania would be included in a different geopolitical equation but still serve the same geopolitical goals Algeria sticks to. There is a threat hanging over the whole region as Algeria plans to move the Polisario headquarters from Tindouf to the northern part of Mauritania.

However, Algeria didn’t anticipate the fact that the Tuaregs’ case it has used for decades would turn against its own national interest. In 2021, the Liberation Movement of Tamanrasset and Adrar, a secessionist movement in the south of the country, started to be more visible, solemnly claiming its right to be independent from Algeria.

International law: one side’s version abroad and no version at all at home

There are countries whose main credo is that states should fully comply with international law, including the right to self-determination. The main characteristic of these countries is that most are former colonial powers, meaning there are scarce, if any,  historical records of them respecting this principle in the past. There are also other countries that cleverly manipulate the principle. Indeed, while they advocate the right to self-determination, they make sure it doesn’t turn against their own national interests.

On top of the list, one can cite the United Kingdom, which has long used the self-determination principle because it serves its national interest with respect to Gibraltar, a disputed territory with Spain since 1704. Also, the principle serves its geopolitical agenda in the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims sovereignty over. A forty-seven-day military confrontation opposed the two countries in 1982. Whenever a referendum about the future of these territories is held, the participants, mostly Britons, vote for keeping the areas under the United Kingdom’s sovereignty.

There are also European countries which, in hopes of maintaining their influence and presence in overseas territories, resort to the self-determination principle and referendum. For example, France held several referendums in its overseas territories. The two last ones were in Mayotte and in New Caledonia. In 2009, Mayotte, an Indian Ocean island, voted to be fully integrated with France. In 2021, New Caledonia overwhelmingly rejected the independence option. France also grants self-government to regions but makes it impossible for them to seek potential large autonomy, not to mention independence.

Scandinavia enjoys the reputation of including countries that fiercely defend the superiority of international law to help resolve territorial conflicts. This perception lays down the same argument with respect to self-determination. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland shared, incidentally, the same position on the regional dispute over the Sahara. On a few occasions, they have urged that a referendum for self-determination be organized.

In doing so, they have neglected to apply the same rights to the Sami. The Sami are a people who live in Lapland, a region that encompasses large parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Since the 19th century, Sami people have been subject to forced assimilation and cultural normalization. They had been portrayed as primitive who supposedly needed to be “civilized.” 

Despite the fact that they enjoy some rights, Sami people suffer from the impact of different laws denying them the right to preserve their language, land, and the practice of their traditional livelihoods. They are victims of the military presence in their neighborhood, the impact of climate change, and the way they are presented as a tourism attraction.

More surprising is that Denmark has denied the right to self-determination to the Faroe Islands in 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2014. The islands have enjoyed a self-governing status since 1948 and used to be part of Norway, which was in a personal union with Denmark from 1035 to 1814.

The same argument is used to resolve so-called “frozen conflicts.” This applies to Azerbaijan and Armenia in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani territory. Armenia, which uses a proxy Armenian dissident movement in the territory, lost parts of the territory it had gained in 1993-1994. Azerbaijan recovered most of them in the aftermath of the 2020 war between the two countries. 

Moldavia is facing the same dilemma with respect to Transnistria. This is a very complex territorial issue that resulted from the post-Soviet Union era and the trilateral swing policy that Russia, Romania, and Moldavia played in 1991–1992.

The same assessment might apply to Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Artsakh. The Eastern Partnership, established by the European Union in 2009, demystified the double standards the European states play individually in the South Caucasus. This is not to mention the cases of Kosovo, Cyprus, or even the North Caucasus Russian autonomous republics.

Of course, each one of these cases has a specific cultural and geopolitical history. And that is precisely the reason they should be dealt with separately, in accordance with their singular history and socio-political baggage. So it should be with the regional dispute over the Sahara: any genuine talks of settling the dispute should take into account the region’s history and demographic makeup. In any case, Morocco has recovered its southern provinces, which are now part of the country. Hopefully, countries that are still doubting this reality will reconsider their positions.

From Latin America, it is worth mentioning the case of Mexico. The self-determination principle is a milestone in the Mexican constitution. Every single day, Mexican policymakers are reminded of this because they nurture the hope that one day they will be nostalgic for the times when California, New Mexico, or Arizona used to be part of the country. 

However, the sacrosanct belief in the self-determination principle was ignored when the Chiapas Revolt took place between 1980 and 1994. Zapata’s National Liberation Army was defeated. Chiapas’s first intention was to be granted economic and social rights and not to seek independence. The movement is still alive, as it resumed its action in 2011.

The same conclusion might be drawn as far as Bolivia, El Salvador, Columbia, and Venezuela are concerned. For fifty years, these countries have been enduring the impact of endemic rebellions that have created the conditions for unstable and permanent political situations. They have even been faced with an existential crisis. 

Borders, regional conflicts, and international geopolitical hidden scripts are a permanent threat to these countries’ national security. These countries don’t know much about the regional conflict over the Sahara; however, they make ideology their driving compass and jump to conclusions. Their diplomatic take on the Sahara issue is full of miscalculations and wrong perceptions.

Uruguay presents another example of how insecurity perceptions and the existential threat have shaped the mindsets of decision-makers. The history of Uruguay has been a permanent series of wars combined with foreign intervention. First Spain and Portugal, and then Great Britain. The latter helped establish Uruguay in 1825, and starting in 1828, it used it to challenge Argentina’s and Brazil’s hegemonic temptations over the country. 

Uruguay experienced several years of civil war opposing Los Blancos and Los Colorados and also military coups. The country, which also experienced fifteen years of left-wing rule, during which the Uruguayan government sided with leftist parties worldwide, presents similar characteristics as Algeria. Uruguay was established by Great Britain in 1825, and Algeria by France in 1962.

Over the last four decades, some African countries have made ideology an engine for their political and diplomatic behaviors. Most African countries had a hard time adopting neutral positions on the geostrategic chessboard. This was the result of an overwhelming debate between East and West. 

Mostly driven by domestic issues and for the sake of preventing the rise of civil society in their respective countries, governments deemed it safer to stick to their primary ideological choices. With a few exceptions, the rise to power for most of them wasn’t successful.

The political choices in the national landscape reflected their behavior in foreign policy. One cannot help but notice such behavior in regional and international forums. If their choices were legitimate to some point, they, on the other hand, raised questions with respect to the need for adaptation.

It seems that the majority of the movements that have ascended to power couldn’t reverse course with respect to their sacrosanct belief that they should stand by national liberation movements, be they authentic or resulting from a historical accident. They didn’t care if they weren’t created for other purposes than serving the national interests of a given sponsoring state.

Over time, this claim became generalized, no matter the issue at stake. In fact, it was believed that common interests and ideological preferences should be a priority in shaping a progressive external policy. Nowadays, this is perceived and used as a business asset. Even when conditions for prime positions change, the correlation between political state and partisan state remains intact. It gives headaches to decision-makers who have to abide by the rules imposed by the political or labor formation to which they belong.

According to scholars and policymakers, international law is a magical means of guiding the foreign policy of state actors. However, the accuracy of this assessment is not always appreciated as much as it should be. This applies to the principle of self-determination vs. territorial integrity. That is the reason why some countries stick to the former to sustain the latter.

Yet, while this meets their expectations and makes them feel secure, they refuse to acknowledge the inverted process. They don’t accept that other countries that have existed for centuries as nation-states give an ascendant privilege to the territorial integrity principle compared to the principle of self-determination in order to reach the same goals, which are maintaining internal stability and order.

The right to self-determination and the prerequisite process of a referendum are often put forward to explain how Timor-Leste or South Sudan gained their independence. However, this argument doesn’t go further. The proponents of the arguments pretend to ignore how these countries have ended up: they are failed states, or “phantom states,” as some scholars name them.

Over the last few years, security experts and strategists have come to the conclusion that there is a close relationship between separatism and terrorism. Since 1990, it has become very difficult to make a clear distinction between a national liberation movement and a terrorist organization. It has been proven that some of these movements have links to international crime networks. Non-state army groups playing the dual role of rogue states and paramilitary forces have participated in perpetuating chaos and instability in many issue-areas.

Is there any chance that hardliners who stand against Morocco’s sovereignty on the Sahara would change their mind or at least adopt a low profile? Not that sure. Algeria, to start with, allocated two weeks one billion dollars to allegedly finance development programs in the last few African countries that still recognize the Polisario. In fact, it seems like a tricky move to bribe them. Indeed, there are rumors circulating in diplomatic circles in some African capital cities that the Polisario would soon be kicked out of the African Union organization.

The ironic side of this move is that Algerian decision-makers have spent more than five hundred billion dollars over the last forty-seven years to ensure that the dissident movement gets state status. Although they have so far failed to make this happen, the Algerian regime still looks to have not lost hope that a miracle will happen eventually. The country’s last cabinet reshuffle is paramount proof they are running against time by trying to revive the 1990s bloody era both internally and at the regional level.

Algeria’s appointment of a hardliner as the new foreign minister proves that the country’s military establishment has no intention of stopping feeding tension and instability in North Africa. Indeed, it seems that the Algerian politico-military establishment is worried about the widening scope of the historically verified claim that Eastern Sahara used to be Moroccan territory. People are now starting to understand why Algeria engineered the Polisario’s “Sahrawi nationalism” case back in the mid-1970s. The goal was to get Morocco busy so it would never claim the recovery of the Eastern Sahara region.

South Africa would not take any steps either to pave the way for the normalization of its relationship with Morocco. In the past, every time South Africa was elected as a UNSC non-permanent member, it spared no time to tease Morocco and speak on behalf of the Polisario movement. This happens in full coordination with Algeria. Recently, the South African diplomatic mission in the United States has disseminated documents on the Sahara issue in the same spirit of annoying Morocco.

South Africa would be better inspired to work hand in hand with Morocco and make the pivotal states paradigm free of hegemonic aspirations. It would be built on strong economic pillars. This would take the following formats: Morocco in the north-west, South Africa in the south, Nigeria in the center, Egypt in the north-east, and Ethiopia in the east. In a model based on the win-win concept, every partner would create a prosperous economic community working at the regional level with the others. 

Morocco is already working as a strategic trusted partner with Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Gabon, to name but a few. Complementarity would be the secret to making the new partnership work properly.

On a separate note, Nigeria, which still recognizes the Polisario, has stopped showing as much exaggerated zeal as it used to a couple of years ago. Abuja seems willing to give a strong push to the bilateral relationships with Rabat. Common economic and political interests are driving good relations between Rabat and Abuja. 

The reservation that Abuja, through the Nigerian business community, had expressed with regard to Morocco’s candidacy to be an ECOWAS member in 2017, might be lifted soon. A sound sign of the common shared values that Morocco and Nigeria share is the inclusive Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project.

Morocco has won the war over Western Sahara

So, what do Morocco’s adversaries want? I am tempted to lay out what Morocco thinks about all this mess. There are a couple of suitable answers. 

First, Morocco is fed up with the Ping-Pong game that some countries are playing to blackmail it. Whether they mean it or not, the insipid game of recognizing, freezing, and withdrawing the recognition of a separate movement cannot change the reality on the ground. The southern provinces are part of Morocco, and its rival or indifferent friends have to live with that.

Second, the United States’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara changed the rules of the game. It has paved the way to the resolution of this regional conflict.

Third, there is no way that the international community would go back to the 1990s and start from scratch looking for a solution according to outdated parameters that the UNSC definitely ruled out in 2007.

Fourth, the Autonomy Plan is the only option possible. If Morocco has always shown its commitment to peacefully resolving bilateral and multilateral issues, it is out of the question to negotiate Morocco’s sovereignty over its Saharan provinces.

Fifth, Morocco works hard so the conflict can be resolved within the framework of the United Nations Charter’s provisions, mainly with respect to the principle of territorial integrity. The Autonomy Plan is also an option to exert right self-determination. 

Indeed, the United Nations Assembly General resolution 1541 (XV) of December 14, 1960 regarding  principles which guide members in determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the information called under Article 73 e of the Charter, leaves room for multiple options, including independence, association, integration, and all other political status freely decided. Therefore, those who still dream of having a failed state in North Africa must have come from another planet or be out of their minds.

Sixth, those individuals, organizations, or state actors’ representatives who have used the Sahara issue to undermine Morocco’s stability or bring about regime change have failed.

Seventh, those who thought that ideological credo and transnational allegiance came before national cohesion and unity and attempted to weaken the country have failed.

Eighth, people who still believe that the democratic godfathers in the West are motivated by Samaritan goals ought to wake up; the sooner, the better.

Ninth, Morocco has won the political, diplomatic, and military war over the Sahara. Morocco believes that its cause is just and legitimate and presents a milestone for its national unity and permanent regional stability. Its enemies and virtual friends have to update their records accordingly. And to quote Willie Nelson: “If it’s not something {they} get over (…) it’s something {they better} get through.”

Tenth, the international and regional geopolitical chessboards are being transformed. It is up to wise statesmen to seize the moment and get positive results out of it. Old rivalries and interpersonal bitterness should be erased.

Eleventh, given the changes the international system has undergone, scholars, strategists, and experts in international law are requested to sort out the real significance of self-determination compared to the territorial integrity principle. More importantly, they have to dig out their correlation with another principle in vogue: the rule of the intangibility of inherited frontiers. All this for the sake of getting the records straight and not bringing about chaos. 

Twelfth, it’s a good sign that Morocco, Spain, and Portugal, despite their loaded history, have come together to put everything behind them and present a joint bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2030. This is indeed a good premonition. They are doing it because they share a common cultural and civilizational heritage. They are looking onward to the future with optimism and good resolution. 

Source : Morocco World New

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