King Mohammed VI of Morocco delivered a speech to the Moroccan people on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the Green March, which allowed Morocco to recover its sovereignty over the so-called Western Sahara.
In a strongly-worded speech that will undoubtedly set the new tone of the Moroccan diplomacy in its defense of the Moroccaness of the ‘Western Sahara’, the King said that the question of this disputed territory is the issue of every Moroccan citizens, that it is an existential issue for Moroccans, adding that it will remain Moroccan “until the end of time.”
“The Sahara is not an issue for Saharan people only. The Sahara is the cause of all Moroccans. As I said in an earlier speech: the Sahara is a crucial, existential issue, not just a question about borders,” the king emphasized.
“Morocco will remain in its Sahara, and the Sahara will remain part of Morocco, until the end of time,” he added.
While renewing Morocco’s determination to defend its rights over territory against all odds, he recalled all the sacrifices the Moroccan people have made in order to preserve this part of the country and allow the Saharawis to lead a dignified life.
“In addition to the lives given for the Sahara, Moroccans have made other forms of sacrifice – moral and material – for the development of the southern provinces, sharing whatever they had with their brothers and sisters in the south,” the King said.
This statement was a clear message directed to those who support Polisario and Algeria’s claims that Morocco is exploiting the natural resources of the ‘Western Sahara’ to the detriment of its population.
The Moroccan king recalled the situation that prevailed in the territory when Spain ceded it to Morocco in 1975 and its situation at the economic and infrastructure levels nowadays. He pointed a fact that many overlook when they accuse Morocco of exploiting the wealth of the ‘Western Sahara.’ He recalled that not only Morocco doesn’t benefit from the alleged wealth of the territory, but that latter has rather constituted a burden for the Moroccan people, who had to pay from their own pocket to contribute to its development.
“It is a fact that what is produced in the Sahara is not even enough to meet the basic needs of its population. Let me say this, in all sincerity: Moroccans have borne the cost of developing the southern provinces. They have paid out of their own pockets and given from the earnings intended for their children so that their brothers in the south may lead a dignified life as humans,” the King underscored.
“Since we recovered the Sahara, for every single dirham of revenue from the Sahara, the state invests 7 dirhams there, as part of the solidarity between the regions and between the sons and daughters of the nation.”
To back his statement, the Moroccan monarch made a comparison between the human development indicators in the region in 1975 and nowadays, as well as between the Saharawi cities and the rest of Morocco.
In this regard, he said that while human development indicators were 6% lower in the Sahara than in northern in Morocco, they are now above the national average.
“Today, those indicators are much higher in the southern provinces than the national average. Therefore, let me say this, loud and clear: stop spreading false allegations that Morocco is exploiting the region’s wealth,” he said.