I would like to, unpretentiously, republish an article I wrote in December of 2012. The article was titled “A Moroccan Defeat in Stockholm” and was written for the now defunct Morocco News Board. Sadly, this piece underlines Morocco’s persistent diplomatic missteps in handling the” Sahara dossier “in Scandinavia.
The facts that the Swedish decision to recognize the so-called Sahrawi Republic has been in the making for years and the warnings and counter-offensive plans have been on Rabat’s plate constantly make the Moroccan diplomatic inaction incomprehensible, unacceptable and deplorable.
Unless drastic changes are taken to address Morocco’s ineffective diplomacy, the Kingdom will undoubtedly suffer more setbacks. A change must start with a clear definition of what establishment is responsible for formulating foreign policy? Is it the Royal Palace in the persons of the King’s advisers or is it the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Who is responsible for keeping the Swedish Ambassador’s post vacant for 3 years?
While a Swedish recognition of the self-proclaimed Sahara Republic will not be shattering, it will set a precedent that would entice other European governments to follow suit. The buck has to stop in Stockholm. Yet, this latest crisis begs the question, is the Moroccan diplomacy ready, able and willing to do the hard work?
The 2012 article below remains relevant today because Rabat has plugged its eras and closed its eyes hoping to never see these predictions metalize. Whatever the stated reasons for the current diplomatic crisis with Sweden are, a combination of diplomatic incompetence and inaction or negligence, quick and decisive decisions must be made for Morocco to regain the upper hand in the “Western Sahara” media war before it is too late.
The Swedish Parliament recognition of the self proclaimed Sahrawi Republic was several years in the making, and the proof can be found in my writings over the years for Morocco board News. My warnings, along with several Moroccan experts’ alarms, of an imminent and embarrassing Swedish decision to boost the Polisario drive for a state in the Western Sahara went unheeded.
In their typical fashion of denial and silly defiance, Moroccan diplomats are minimizing this significant development. This lack of a Moroccan diplomatic initiative in Scandinavia will very likely lead all Nordic countries to recognize RASD as the representative of Sahrawis.
Morocco’s doctrine of “Al Maghrib fi Sahraihi” (Morocco in his Sahara) is self-defeating. If Sweden recognizes the RASD, Morocco will have a tough time selling its Autonomy Plan for the Sahara. Some Moroccan diplomats, used to Paris’ veto cover in the United Nations, justify their laziness and incompetence by highlighting the American and French pro-Moroccan stands. Yet, Moroccan prestige and economic well-being is damaged each time a European country adopts the Algerian position.
With fully staffed Embassies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, it is hard for the Moroccan public to understand Polisario’s success in lobbying the Swedish Socialists who control the Parliament. In fact, the Moroccan diplomats were playing the high and mighty in Rabat and Stockholm while the “underdog” Polisario representatives, turbo charged with Algerian petro-dollars, were playing the victims.
Moroccan diplomats’ lack of understanding of the political, social and cultural environments in their assignment countries have had disastrous consequences on Moroccan efforts to lobby for the Moroccan position in the Western Sahara conflict.
Without a Moroccan political and diplomatic counter-offensive, Algeria through its proxy the Polisario is having a field day in Scandinavia. Gauging the Moroccan street pulse from reading comments on Moroccan websites, such as Hesspress, average citizens are “appalled” while the Moroccan Foreign Ministry minimized the Algerian backed and financed Polisario clear win in Sweden.
As a Moroccan blogger put it, the Moroccan diplomats have to start doing the job they were hired to do. In this case “convince the Swedish not to be fooled by the propaganda of independence and to explain Morocco’s proposed autonomy for the Sahara.”