UNSC discusses Western Sahara following Trump's deal with Morocco

2020-12-22 20:56:48
UNSC discusses Western Sahara following Trump's deal with Morocco

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been briefed about Western Sahara following incumbent US President Donald Trump's recognition of Moroccan "sovereignty" over the much disputed region as part of a normalization deal between Rabat and the Israeli regime.

The council briefing had been requested by Germany and took place behind closed doors on Monday.

"There are no major operational changes from our part," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric remarked before UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita and Colin Stewart, the head of a UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, briefed the UNSC.

"Our position on the announcements regarding Western Sahara is unchanged and... we continue to believe that a solution can be found through dialog based on the relevant Security Council resolutions," he said.

Earlier this month, Donald Trump, who is due to leave office on January 20, decided to recognize Moroccan "sovereignty" over Western Sahara, abandoning longstanding US policy concerning the region.

Morocco, for its part, agreed in return to join the list of Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel.

Morocco became the fourth Arab country — after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Sudan — to normalize relations with the Israeli regime since August. The US-brokered normalization deals have been denounced by all Palestinian factions as a betrayal of their cause.

Morocco annexed the vast Western Sahara region, a former Spanish colony, back in the 1970s and has ever since been in conflict with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a movement that intends to establish an independent state in the territory and end Morocco's presence there.

Morocco is currently in control of 80 percent of said region, including (but not limited to) its phosphate deposits and fishing waters.

The UN has sent a peacekeeping mission, the MINURSO, to the region to monitor a 1991 ceasefire and to supposedly set up a referendum on the region's status.

The US had backed the ceasefire agreed between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

US President-elect Joe Biden will face a serious decision whether to maintain or reverse the decision to recognize Moroccan "sovereignty" on Western Sahara. No other Western country has thus far offered such recognition.

Subsequent to the council briefing, South Africa's UN Ambassador Jerry Matjila said "decisions contrary to multilateral collective decisions must be discouraged and unequivocally disregarded," without naming the United States.

"We believe that any recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco is tantamount to recognizing illegality as such recognition is incompatible with international law," he noted.

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