Opening of diplomatic representations in the Sahara weakens Algeria’s «argument»

The United Arab Emirates inaugurated, Wednesday, a new consulate general in Laayoune, becoming the first Gulf country to open a diplomatic representation in the Sahara. The inauguration is part of a policy launched in June 2019, after the Cote d’Ivoire opened an honorary consulate in Laayoune.

Since then, Morocco’s allies in Africa rushed into doing the same thing. Gabon, Comoros, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Djibouti opened diplomatic representations in the Sahara, mainly in Laayoune and Dakhla.

Even countries that have recognized «SADR» in the past have joined the trend, including Guinea-Bissau, Burundi, the Kingdom of Eswatini and Zambia. To date, 15 African countries and members of the African Union have representations in the two main cities of the province.

Algeria and the Polisario’s embarrassment

The opening of an Emirati consulate in the Sahara marks a new era for the region. The step paves the way for other Gulf countries, namely Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman, to follow Abu Dhabi’s example.

In North-East Africa, Sudan and South Sudan are also in Morocco’s field of vision. While Khartoum has never recognized «SADR», Morocco has always defended its territorial unity. As for Juba, the country broke off relations with the Polisario in September 2018.

Well-informed sources told Yabiladi that the same policy will focus on Latin and Central America, as well as the Caribbean States. In this region, Morocco has allies that support its stance on the Western Sahara issue. In 2019, El Salvador and Barbados withdrew recognition of the Polisario Front.  

The opening of diplomatic representations in Dakhla and Laayoune is a setback for Algeria, the biggest ally of the Polisario in the region. Algiers and the separatist movement have long said, during international meetings, that «no state» recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara.

Rabat thus provides proof that this «argument» is floundering, by inviting its allies to confirm Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara with a physical presence.