Moroccan Autonomy Plan for Sahara Honors 12 Centuries of History 640x384
Moroccan Ambassador to South Africa, Youssef Amrani, has said the latest developments in the  Sahara issue reinforce the validity of Morocco’s historical, non-negotiable legitimacy over the territory.

In a recent interview discussing his latest publication “Moroccan Sahara: Understanding and Identifying the Regional Dispute,” Amrani noted that the “Moroccan character of the Sahara cannot be reduced to a particular tendency,” but that instead it “is the result of a deep history.”

Speaking of the diplomatic developments in the Southern provinces, Ambassador Amrani pointed to the recent openings of consulates in Dakhla and Laayoune, the American proclamation, and “other diplomatic initiatives.” He said the developments were the result of the “conviction that Morocco’s legitimacy is indisputable… and its sovereignty over the Sahara non-negotiable.”

 

He continued, “There is an undeniably strong international consensus which is becoming clearer, consolidated and affirmed in the sense of an increasingly formal and unambiguous recognition of sovereign legitimacy.”

The comments come as an increasing cohort of countries and international actors embrace Morocco’s position on the Sahara — especially its Autonomy Plan — as the most practical and politically feasible route to a lasting settlement of the Sahara issue.

Earlier this year, on January 15, a Sahara-themed conference hosted by Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US State Department convened 40 other countries that renewed their commitment to the Moroccan autonomy proposal.

Factoring in the series of supportive declarations Morocco received in recent weeks, Amrani pointed out the increasing irrelevance of the separatist camp’s obsession for an independence referendum in the  Sahara.

‘On the fringes of international consensus’

Whether willfully or through ignorance, Western media often misrepresent the United Nations’ stance on the sovereignty of the Sahara, Amrani suggested. To clear up the misinformation, the ambassador described the dynamic that developed over the last two decades as combining “the voices and actions of an international community,” which now fully and formally recognize the Moroccanness of the Sahara.

As an ambassador to South Africa, one of few vocal pro-Polisario supporters on the African continent, Amrani is aware that Moroccan diplomacy still has some distance to travel. He especially underscored some of the lingering challenges Moroccan diplomacy faces in Pretoria, where the official discourse still continues to challenge Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern provinces.

Despite the challenges, Amrani continues to engage South African officials and commentators, consistently deconstructing pro-Polisario myths “on television, radio, the written press or even as part of official proceedings.”

The Moroccan ambassador described the nations who stand diametrically opposed to Morocco on the Sahara issue as being “on the fringes of international consensus.”

For him, countries like Algeria, which maintain their focus on spreading fake news about Morocco and searching for pro-Polisario support in Africa and beyond, “isolate themselves from international law and diplomatic coherence by continuing against all odds to refuse the irrefutable in order to advocate the unrealizable.”

With all the UN resolutions from the past decade making it abundantly clear that an independence referendum is no longer a politically viable option, the ambassador argued, the ever dwindling concert of pro-Polisario governments now constitutes a minority that “isolates itself from relevance” and holds on to an obsolete view of the Sahara question.

“It is essential to understand that the question of the Sahara is not or at least no longer a question of decolonization since 1975… the Sahara issue is exclusively that of the territorial integrity of the Kingdom,” Amrani noted.

US Proclamation

Speaking of the Presidential Proclamation that recognized the Sahara as a Moroccan territory, the ambassador described it as “not only a historic breakthrough, but also the expression of a diplomatic synergy which cements the legitimacy of a united and federated Morocco on an international scale.”

The proclamation not only crowns “the strong and structural diplomatic convergences between our two countries,” but it also shows a mutual understanding and strict respect for international law.

Amrani pointed to the US’ position on the global stage as a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, saying that the country’s proclamation on the Sahara holds a “decisive role on the international scene.”

In fact, he added, the newfound US position on the Sahara conflict sets a diplomatic precedent with far-reaching consequences in the months ahead. With the UN having officialized the US’ proclamation, Amrani expects more positive, pro-Morocco developments in the near future.

For all Armani’s trenchant observations on the historical fallacies and diplomatic incoherences of the pro-Polisario camp, his points during the interview mainly reinforce what many observers have already suggested in the wake of recent developments: a new diplomatic dawn in the Sahara.

Or, as Samir Bennis recently wrote, namely the US’ recognition of Morocco’s historical sovereignty over its southern provinces carries “unprecedented political momentum for Morocco’s position.”

But Amrani appeared to put in the equation something that most commentators have mostly gestured at or simply neglected to take into account. Namely that Morocco’s Autonomy Plan for the Sahara, while only presented to the UN in 2007, finds its genesis in the tradition of multiethnic confederation that constituted the heart of the Cherifiean empire (or Kingdom of Morocco).

As Amrani put it, the autonomy proposal is about the Moroccan diplomacy honoring the past “12 centuries of history and deep identity.”