US Funds for the Sahara : A House of Representatives' proposition in favor of Morocco

While the US House of Representatives had given Morocco a hard time almost a year ago, when discussing American funds allocated to the Sahara, the proposition for the 2020 spending bill is reassuring.

«Funds appropriated under title III of 6 this Act shall be made available for assistance for 7 the Western Sahara», read a text of the House Amendment published on the website of the House of Representatives Monday, December 16.

«Provided that not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act and prior to the obligation of such funds, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the proposed uses of such funds», read the same document.

The latter is a reassuring move for Morocco, which waged a tough battle in January, trying to counter a proposal by Democrats who wanted to exclude the Sahara from funds directed at the Kingdom.

Failed attempts

Last year, the Democratic majority in the United States’ House of Representatives broke up with the tradition that has been set up since 2015. Starting from that year, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been granting funds to development projects in the Sahara.

But for fiscal year 2019, the Democrats had proposed to exclude the province when discussing funds directed at Morocco, which worried the supporters of the Kingdom and Moroccan officials. Morocco, which was betting on the American Congress, was impatiently waiting for the House of Representatives to amend the draft text, which happened later thanks to US former representative Nita M. Lowey.

But this year it is a different story as the text has yet to pass through the United States Congress before being enacted. This first victory for Morocco can be explained by several factors. The situation in Algeria has probably forced its lobbyists to review their cards, and the preparation of the 15th congress of the Polisario Front has kept Brahim Ghali busy.