The President of Teach the Children International, Mrs Nancy Huff expresses her concern over the UNSG recent report on the situation concerning Western Sahara. “It is our belief that the report does not take into account several significant and fundamental realities on the ground” Said Mrs Huff.
According to a press release by TCI President:
The report fails to recognize the ever-growing relationship between the Polisario Front leadership and terrorism. Numerous experts have emphasized the ever-strengthening relationship between leaders of the Polisario Front and organizations such as al Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). Recently, the involvement of Polisario members in the fighting in Mali was confirmed by numerous sources.
The French air strikes in Mali that killed Abu Zeid, one of AQIM’s leading commanders, also killed more than 40 jihadists and led to the arrest of seven fighters, including an Algerian national, a Mauritanian national and a member of the Polisario. The air strike was backed up by U.S. drones before French troops, supported by Tuareg fighters, intervened on the ground.
In 2007, the Mali government threatened the Polisario over its activities in the country. A Malian minister stated that the country will “no longer accept the violation of its territorial integrity by the Polisario Front. Our country is not the Wild West where they can come to kill and kidnap people, and we have already made it clear.”
In February, Tiéman Coulibaly, foreign minister of Mali, announced that Polisario fighters were among the terrorist groups in southern Mali. “In the beginning, they were only 500 insurgents. Now they are between 5,500 to 7,000 terrorists in northern Mali who were joined by lost youngsters, including young Sahrawis from the (Tindouf) camps”
Furthermore, we are disturbed by the equivalence granted in the report between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco. The Kingdom of Morocco is an independent sovereign state, while the Polisario is a recognized agent of the Algerian regime. To equate the two offers conflated status to the Polisario and undermines Morocco’s sovereignty, while at the same time calling into question the objectivity of the Secretary General and consequently the entire UN system.
Additionally, the report ignores the direct and on-going political and fiduciary role that Algeria plays in the conflict. The report does not in any way hold Algeria to its international commitments under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Algeria is a signatory, and instead accepts the status quo.
Finally, by calling for the incorporation of human rights issues into the MINURSO mandate, the report undermines the democratic ideals and mechanisms the Kingdom of Morocco has been exercising in the Sahara, while at the same time ignores the ongoing violations of basic and fundamental rights committed by the Polisario leadership against the refugees trapped in the camps in southern Algeria.
Advocating for a human rights’ monitoring element to be added to the MINURO mandate, noble as it may be, can only turn into a tool of destabilization in a safe but already fragile and vulnerable area. This addition to the MINURO mandate will undermine major projects of reform initiated by Morocco, such as the new Constitution, Morocco’s National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), and over 4 billion dollars in development projects in the Southern Provinces.
Such a project will only complicate the process of negotiations regarding a resolution of the Sahara issue. The issue of human rights should never be exploited for the diversion and stagnation of the peace process.
It is a total travesty of truth and justice that the position of the RFK Center, a biased nonprofit, and its president, Kerry Kennedy, have misled the U.S. administration to discard centuries of friendly relations with Morocco. The RFK Center has been manipulated by Algeria to the extent that Kerry Kennedy, with her popular recognition and association to the Algerian Lobbyist Gare Smith, are lobbying to destabilize the already fragile zone of North Africa.
This new and unexpected shift in American policy towards Moroccan sovereignty does not measure the impact this decision will have on the Morocco-US bilateral relationship, especially the bilateral dialogue carried out under Secretary Clinton and expected to be carried out under Secretary Kerry.
This policy shift demonstrates ingratitude towards Morocco’s major role in supporting US policies as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Morocco’s support in various regional and international arenas, such as Syria, Mali, and inter-religious dialogue, has assisted in maintaining and consolidating peace and noble universal values.
The Western Sahara issue has broad national consensus on the part of the Moroccan people. Morocco will never compromise its sovereignty.