 Since 1999, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have supported a compromise formula based on autonomy for the Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, with the details to be negotiated between Morocco, the Polisario Front, and the Polisario’s Algerian backers. 

Since 2007, when Morocco unveiled its compromise autonomy plan, the plan has been widely supported in Washington and deemed, “serious, realistic, and credible,” by officials in the Administration.‐press‐office/2013/11/22/joint‐statement‐united‐states‐america‐and‐kingdom‐morocco

  In a Joint Statement issued on November 22, 2013 following a meeting between President Obama and King Mohammed VI, the US reiterated that Morocco’s autonomy plan is “serious, realistic,  and  credible.”  The two  leaders  also  affirmed,  “their shared  commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara and agreed to work together to continue to protect and promote human rights in the territory.”‐press‐office/2013/11/22/joint‐statement‐united‐states‐america‐and‐kingdom‐morocco .



 On January 17, 2014, President Obama signed into law the FY2014 Appropriations Bill that explicitly directed that existing development assistance to Morocco “should also be available for assistance for the territory of the Western Sahara.” The law, P.L. 113‐76, approved by Congress and signed by the President as part of the FY2014 ppropriations Bill, should bolster Morocco’s efforts to improve social and economic conditions in the Southern Provinces.‐113hr3547eah/pdf/BILLS‐113hr3547eah.pdf‐moroccan‐kings‐white‐house‐visit‐congress‐mandates‐funding‐


  The law also requires that the State Department (in consultation with USAID) submit a report describing how aid will support development and democratic reform in the country, and also detailing US efforts to “resolve the longstanding dispute over the Western Sahara, based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.” This report could help advance positive efforts towards what US officials have called “the only feasible solution” for resolving the Western Sahara, and hopefully will signal more active support and renewed determination on the part of the United States for resolving this issue based on the “serious, realistic, and credible” compromise put forward by Morocco.‐bin/cpquery/T?&report=hr185&dbname=113&‐6D27‐4E9C‐8CD3‐


  In December 2011, Congress reiterated the urgency of putting tangible actions behind US policy supporting Moroccan autonomy in the Western Sahara by inserting such language in the 2012 Omnibus Spending Report. The language, which states that US program assistance to Morocco may be used in “all regions and territories administered by Morocco,” authorizes the extension of US economic and social development assistance to the Western Sahara as a US Policy on the Western Sahara   means  of resolving the  conflict.  It  further  notes that  Congress  “remains  concerned  with resolving the dispute over the Western Sahara” that for decades has been an obstacle to cooperation,  stability,  and  security  in  the  region,  and  urges  the  State  Department  “to prioritize  a  negotiated settlement”  to  the  dispute  based  on  autonomy  under  Moroccan 

sovereignty.  Speaking  in the Congressional Record, then‐House  Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros‐Lehtinen (R‐FL) underscored the urgency of the matter, noting that “the US must continue to seek a fair, just, and enduring solution to the Western Sahara in order to promote regional integration and protect US security interests in the region.”‐president‐approve‐extending‐us‐aid‐for‐morocco‐reforms‐to‐w‐


  In March 2010, 54 members of the United States Senate affirmed their support for Morocco’s autonomy plan in a letter addressed to then‐Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Out of concern for  growing  instability  in  North  Africa,  the  letter  urged  Secretary  Clinton  to  “make  the resolution of the Western Sahara stalemate a U.S. foreign policy priority for North Africa,” and  called for  “more sustained American  attention to  one  of the region's most  pressing political issues.” The letter voiced strong support for the US policy backing a solution to the conflict based on “broad autonomy for Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty” and called the Moroccan compromise autonomy proposal “serious and credible.” The letter noted that it has been the “bipartisan US policy” of three successive Administrations (Clinton, Bush, and Obama) “to support a resolution of this conflict based on this formula.”  

 On the eve of the April 2009 MINURSO renewal, 233 members of the United States House of Representatives  sent  a  letter  to  President  Obama  reaffirming  their  support  for  Morocco’s Autonomy Proposal. The letter called for strong US backing for Morocco’s compromise solution to  end the 30‐year Western  Sahara  conflict, which would  clear  a path for  greater regional cooperation to meet growing security and economic challenges. 


 The 2009 letter from the House of Representatives built on another letter from 2007 signed by 173 Members of the House (including the bipartisan House  Leadership, Chairman Tom Lantos  and  Ranking  Member  Ros‐Lehtinen)  reiterating  Congressional  support  for  the Moroccan plan, and a letter from Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other important former policy makers.   

The Administration 

  During  her  remarks  at  the  Opening  Plenary  of  the  US‐Morocco  Strategic  Dialogue  in September 2012, then‐Secretary Clinton praised Morocco as a leader and model in the region and reaffirmed  Morocco’s  autonomy  initiative to resolve the  Western  Sahara  conflict  as “serious, realistic, and credible.” Reiterating that US policy has remained constant, Clinton underscored the  continuity of US policy on the supporting  a solution for Western  Sahara based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. 

   On March 23, 2011, at a joint press briefing with then‐Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, Secretary Clinton reiterated US policy on the Western Sahara, stating that the Moroccan autonomy plan is, “serious, realistic, and credible [and] a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity.”    

 During a trip to Morocco on November 3, 2009, Secretary Clinton confirmed US policy on the Western Sahara ‐ that autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only realistic solution for ending  the  more  than  30‐year  dispute,  noting  during  her  remarks  with  then‐Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Faihri, “It is important for me to reaffirm, here in Morocco, that there  has  been  no  change  in  our  policy.”  In  a subsequent  interview,  Secretary  Clinton continued, “It is a plan, as you know, that was started under the Clinton Administration. It was reaffirmed under the Bush Administration and remains the policy of the United States under the Obama Administration.” 


 In June  2008, then‐White  House  Press  Secretary  Dana  Perino  elucidated this  policy.  She noted, “Yes, the President sent a letter to King Mohammed. It reiterated the U.S. position, first announced in the UN Security Council, that autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only  feasible  solution  for  the  Western  Sahara  dispute  and  our  support  for  substantive negotiations on this matter within the U.N.‐led framework.”   

 Perino  was  referring  to  an  April  2008  decision  by  UN  Security  Council  members  to unanimously  opt  for  “realism”  rather  than  prolonging  the  stalemate.  The  US  played  a significant role in this sea change, noting in its statement issued by then‐Deputy Permanent US Representative to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff after the UN Security Council vote that, “For our part, we agree with (UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy) Mr. Van Walsum’s assessment that  an  independent  Sahrawi state  is  not  a realistic  option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution. 

In  our  view, the  focus  of  future  negotiation rounds should therefore  be  on  designing  a mutually acceptable autonomy regime that is consistent with the aspirations of the people of the Western Sahara.”‐6D27‐4E9C‐8CD3‐


  Peter Van Walsum was the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy and the UN mediator for the first four rounds of negotiations. In his assessment, he called for compromise and realism in on‐going  negotiations  and  concluded  that  “an  independent  Western  Sahara  is  not  an attainable goal.” He called the four rounds of talks a failure and urged the Security Council to pursue  the  only  realistic  compromise  political solution  to  the  conflict:  autonomy  under Moroccan sovereignty.‐Aug‐2008+PRN20080828