Western Sahara: US Recognition of Morocco's Sovereignty 'Turning Point'

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Rabat – US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara is a “major development” and a “decisive turning point,” said Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita. 

Earlier today at a press conference in Laayoune after the opening of Bahrain’s new consulate general, Bourita spoke of the evolution of the Western Sahara dispute.

US President issued a presidential proclamation on December 10 recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. The proclamation came after a phone call with King Mohammed VI, during which the monarch expressed Morocco’s agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. 

As part of its recognition, the US government adopted a new undivided map of Morocco and will open a consulate general in Dakhla, a major city in Western Sahara, where it will encourage investment and economic development.

Trump’s presidential proclamation also advocates for the 2007 Autonomy Plan as the only solution to the conflict, calling an independent Sahrawi state in Western Sahara “unrealistic.” 

Rabat’s autonomy proposal suggests making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region that remains under Morocco’s sovereignty. It would allow the region’s inhabitants to manage their social, economic, and political affairs while Morocco handles defense and diplomacy. 

The plan enjoys growing support among international observers and within the UN Security Council, which leads the political process to resolve the conflict between Morocco and Algeria-backed Polisario. Over the years, the Security Council has described Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as a realistic, credible, and pragmatic approach to solving the territorial dispute. 

Bourita described the unprecedented US move to recognize Moroccan sovereignty and officially support the Autonomy Plan as “important,” especially given the US’ power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. 

“This decision of the United States is part of the movement of the consecration of the Moroccan character of the Sahara on an international scale,” Bourita said.

Read also: Moroccan FM: US Recognition of Morocco’s Western Sahara Sovereignty ‘Important Step’

Moroccans reacted positively to the US decision and the benefits it offers to the region’s inhabitants, with the US vowing to promote foreign investment in and around Dakha. The US also said it is committed to improving trade with Morocco and will make a series of announcements this week on developments in the two countries’ economic partnership. 

However, many Moroccan citizens and politicians expressed disappointment that US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty comes hand-in-hand with Rabat-Tel Aviv diplomacy, even after King Mohammed VI said on December 10 that Morocco’s position on the Palestinian cause remains unchanged. 

The monarch assured Palestinian President that Rabat will continue to urge a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and advocate for the protection of Jerusalem as a holy city. 

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