The tour that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has just conducted in the Maghreb recorded no progress in efforts meant to reach a final settlement of the Western Sahara territorial dispute between Morocco, on the one, and Algeria and the Polisario Front, on the other.
To close his first visit to the region, Ban Ki-Moon found no way out other than rejecting the ball in the camp of his Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Christopher Ross. Yet, does he realize that since Ross was appointed to the position on January 6, 2009, he has only scored successive failures in the tasks assigned to him? The UN mediator has not even managed to gather around the same table the Algerian and Moroccan stakeholders and representatives of the Polisario, for serious and conclusive negotiations.
“I have asked my Special Envoy, Christopher Ross, to resume visits in the region to create an atmosphere conducive to the resumption of talks” between the conflicting parties, said the UN chief after talks with Algerian leaders in Algiers.
Yet, most observers following the Sahara issue agree that the key to this problem is not to be found in Rabat nor in Nouakchott, nor even in Tindouf, but in Algeria which hosts and finances the separatist Sahrawi movement.
So, Ban Ki-Moon who is preparing to leave the UN by the end of 2016 returned to New York empty-handed, just as his Personal Envoy returned empty handed after each of his trips in the region. And there is no doubt that the tour Ross is expected to make in the Maghreb later this month will yield no better results.
The Sahara issue will not be settled as long as UN officials refuse to admit that Algeria is a party to this conflict, as Algeria was at the origin of its creation, in connivance with the Libyan regime of the late Muammar Gaddafi, and that Algerian leaders’ claims about the neutrality of their country in this conflict is a sham.
Meanwhile Morocco and its king are more determined than ever not to give any new concession except the proposed large autonomy for the disputed territory.