Sahara, a case almost closed!

For Moroccans, it has been closed for a long time. The green march as an act of peaceful reappropriation. The military engagement to break the separatists. The policy of walls to protect the assets. Economic investments to build structures and diplomatic conquests to snatch support and recognition. All crowned and supported by a beautiful national unanimity to make the most sacred causes green with envy.

For the international community, this looks like the final sprint to end this discord. The option of autonomy proposed by Morocco is in the process of establishing itself as the only way out of the crisis. The challenge for the UN this year is to weave the binding legal framework for all the parties involved (Algeria in the lead) in this conflict in order to facilitate the implementation of autonomy.

If the international dynamic is launched for the Sahara, there remains for Moroccan diplomacy sites of great sensitivity to plow so that the action of the UN follows, in the manner of the famous game Tetris, the course of events.

First project: Europe. It is true that Morocco deploys all its ranges of persuasion to convince the major European countries to follow the American model. Despite some notorious successes with Madrid and Berlin, some resistance, particularly French, slowed down these steps. But according to the latest news, the joint preparations for Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Morocco would bring hope to see French diplomacy come out of the gray zone and clarify its position. Since the historic speech of King Mohammed VI in which he summoned old friends and new allies to step out of the comfort zone and out of indecision, a new type of dialogue with Europe has been established. Morocco, having everything to gain in the defense of its interests.

The second project is the African Union. The Moroccan Grail in this case would be to convince this African institution to expel this ghostly Sahrawi republic by withdrawing its recognition. The African Union remains the only institutional breeding ground where the separatist ideology still clings. The task seemed daunting, but politically engaging. The number of African countries that have recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara continues to grow. It is now a question of translating these successes into an immense diplomatic fireworks display by expelling the Republic of Tindouf from the ranks of the African Union.

The third project is military. Faced with such Moroccan performances, neither the radical elements of the Polisario nor their Algerian sponsors will stand idly by. Hence the fears of military provocations which could involve the Moroccan army in a new sand war, in a chase of the armed militias of the Polisario. Even if this hypothesis seems unlikely today in view of the balance of losses and gains for the countries concerned, the region is not immune to acts of provocation, despair, or even manipulation of circumstances.

Hence the insistent and disturbing information that has circulated recently on Iranian involvement in this conflict through the procurement of drones, strategic weapons, to the Polisario militias and Lebanese Hezbollah trainers to bring their terrorist expertise to this Algerian- Moroccan. The gravity of the situation is such that an assumed member of the Iranian services, Amir Moussoui, former “cultural attaché” at the Iranian embassy in Algiers, allowed himself the luxury of making open threats against Morocco.

His incendiary statements caused a bad buzz in social networks which showed how much the Iranian regime has become a player in the conflicts of North Africa. Iran was already involved militarily in four crises in the Middle East and in the Gulf, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. Today, Iran is using the Algerian regime as a springboard to set foot in the Maghreb and sow chaos and discord with Iranian sauce.

After a sequence punctuated by undeniable performances which have pushed back the separatist agenda of the Algerians, it is these projects which are currently mobilizing Moroccan diplomacy. Their rapid success will depend on the ability of the countries of the region to get out of the rut of this crisis and its security and humanitarian consequences. The Sahara affair is about to be closed after several long decades of struggles and sacrifices by Moroccans to establish their territorial unity.

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