In 1997, James Baker was appointed PESG. The caliber of the man and his charisma reflect an American desire to surmount impasse. After the adoption of the settlement plan in September 1991 by the United Nations, with two most important tasks the cease-fire, and particularly holding a referendum in the disputed territory, commonly known as "Western Sahara”, the appointment of an American of that caliber foretold a development to leave the difficult path. The two options were the attachment of Sahara to or independence. It was indeed the two possible options of a referendum process of the identification commission. Knowledgeable observers close to the circles of power in , as François , would have advocated without cynicism “no” on the columns of Jeune Afrique, the following direction: amputation or gangrene.
From the outset, Baker innovated in his approach, as stated in an article issued by Acharq al-Awsat, describing the difficult living conditions in the disputed territory. It was to prepare the minds to get out of the dualism of the settlement plan that Baker paved the way for a third option. But the circles of power, with the territorial administration at the time, were hostile to what would be the third option and remained attached, stubbornly, to the settlement plan. The arrival of the new reign was a balance between continuity of principals and novelty in style, in the management of issue.
It is also important to note that the advent of a new president in in avril1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, did not bring any new idea in the classic Algerian position. The only novelty quickly suppressed, was the Algerian proposal of a fourth option that is to divide the territory. The Algerian argument recalled that had agreed to share the territory with , under the Madrid Accords in November 1975, this was considered a fatal error of the Moroccan thesis on the historical foundations of its claim. Moroccan diplomacy failed to explain the essence of Madrid Accords, the attackers of the Moroccan thesis associate to automatic colonial division of the territory.
The truth is different. Since the recognition of by in 1969, Hassan II had declined his philosophy on the links that the have had with the Mauritanian. He wanted strategic relations. The common position of and during the Madrid Accords in November 1975 was to support this vision. And when the new team removed Ould Mokhtar Dadah (Mauritanian president) from power [military coup], they withdrew from Tiris al Gharbia [Dakhla province], commonly known by the colonial name Rio de Oro, Hassan II furiously, in August 1979, during religious lectures in Ramadan, attacked seriously those who undermined the strategic vision expertly built by him and Ould Dadah. ’s “position of principle" found it hard to resist filtered rumors on "division" [of the territory solution]. A double Algerian media and diplomatic offensive has followed, with a remarkable visit to Tindouf by Bouteflika to attend “SADR” festivities on 28 February 2002, reiterating its support to the “Sahrawi people”. In the course of action, King Mohammed VI visited in March Dakhla where he chaired a cabinet, and then in Laayoune where he delivered at the main square of (allegiance) the strongest speech of King Mohammed VI in Sahara, on 06 March. The little son of the Liberator of Morocco, the son of the country unifier, Hassan II, will not give an inch of the , said Mohammed VI in a big cheer.
The new orientations took the shape of an autonomy plan, welcomed by Western governments, particularly describing it as "serious and credible proposal" and adding the adjective "realistic”. The new PESG, Christopher Ross called for meetings under his auspices between and Polisario in Manhasset, as a means of confidence building, the American model for talks. After several rounds, the talks went nowhere. considered the option of autonomy the basis of negotiations. Polisario rejected it supported, in this view, by .
Ahmed Mharzi Alaoui