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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obama reverses Bush-backed Morocco plan in favor of Polisario state

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has backed a Polisario state, ending U.S. support for a Moroccan plan to establish autonomy for Western Sahara. Morocco has warned the West that such a state could become a haven for Al Qaida and other terror organizations.   

Diplomatic sources said the Obama administration has disassociated itself from a Moroccan plan for autonomy for the disputed Western Sahara. They said the White House no longer sees itself as committed to the endorsement by then-President George Bush of Western Sahara autonomy.

"The United States no longer supports or endorses the Moroccan autonomy plan," a diplomatic source said. "Instead, the administration has returned to the pre-Bush position that there could be an independent Polisario state in Western Sahara."

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"The Moroccans have become highly concerned by the U.S. reversal," the source said. "It calls into question whether Obama sees himself as committed to anything agreed to by his predecessors, which is a key factor in diplomacy."

  • The June elections in Iran and Morocco: Same day, worlds apart July 16

  • In 2007, Rabat launched its plan to end the 35-year-old dispute with the Algerian-backed Polisario by offering autonomy to Western Sahara, 80 percent of which has been under Moroccan control.

    At the time, Morocco persuaded such allies as France and the United States that a Polisario-dominated state would become a haven for Islamic insurgency groups, including Al Qaida.

    But the sources said the administration dropped U.S. support for Western Sahara autonomy in June 2009. They said the White House ordered the State Department to interpret the United Nations mediation effort between Morocco and Polisario as including the option of statehood. In 2008, a Security Council report determined that Polisario's demand for independence for Western Sahara was unfeasible.

    Obama reversed U.S. policy on Western Sahara in a letter to Morocco's King Mohammed in June, the sources said. The letter, which focused on a U.S. request for Morocco's help to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process, ended with a reference to UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara.

    "I share your commitment to the UN-led negotiations as the appropriate forum to achieve a mutually agreed solution," Obama wrote. "My government will work with yours and others in the region to achieve an outcome that meets the people's need for transparent governance, confidence in the rule of law, and equal administration of justice."

    Unlike Bush, Obama did not reiterate support for Morocco's autonomy plan for Western Sahara. Several days after the Obama letter, the sources said, U.S. envoy Christopher Ross arrived in Rabat and pressed for unilateral Moroccan concessions to Polisario, which has threatened to renew war with the North African kingdom.

    The sources said Ross urged Morocco to accept Polisario's demand to ease security measures in Western Sahara as a condition for resuming negotiations. They said the U.S. appeal violated a resolution by the UN Security Council in April 2009 that called for direct and unconditional negotiations.


    It's time Morocco rises to the challenge. Neither Obama nor his predecessors have a right to interfere in Moroccan domestic affairs unless the U.S. administration is keen to see a new war in North Africa. The losers will be the Algerian junta. There has never been a Sahrawi state and there will never be one. Morocco is not Iraq or Afghanistan. The country is united against enemies in the east or wherever there might be lurking. Obama should focus on poverty and insecurity that is ravaging the U.S.

    Ham      4:08 a.m. / Monday, July 20, 2009

    Morocco has already succeeded in one thing: it is the development of the Sahara which started since 1975. Furthrmore Moroccans don't need anyone to decide whether the Sahara is Moroccan or not. Morocco has put forward a negotiable plan that the U.N has approved.

    Jijid      6:21 p.m. / Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Salhi wrote: "I'm Moroccan and I deeply feel happy for such a decision. The U.S. is never and will never be a one face nation. It has not helped us as we've helped them in piracy times." The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1786, but that did not stop Morocco from declaring war on the US in 1801. When T. Jefferson sent a squadron under Commodore Edward Preble, the Moroccans quickly realised their ultimate defeat and dropped their war declaration.

    Linda      7:18 a.m. / Saturday, July 18, 2009

    You guys talking about the president of the United States as if he were your equal really make me laugh. Obama will do whatever he thinks is right, and there's nothing any of you maggots can do about it.

    Omar      10:20 p.m. / Thursday, July 16, 2009

    President Obama will not support a country which violates international law with its occupation of the Western Sahara, and which exports hashish (with parts of the proceeds of the sale of this drug going to terrorists of Al Qaida. The Sahraouis are worth supporting for another reason: They never resorted to terrorism, and have not been socialized to hating Americans. The world will be a better place with the Western Sahara as an independent state, and Obama will be remembered as a president who rose up to the challenge of making our world a better place for all.

    Salih      8:40 p.m. / Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Ahmed Salem, the referendum has never been “obsolete” (MINURSO = Mission des NN UU pour le Reférendum au Sahara Occidental). The “autonomy” initiative is no more than a wishful imposition by the invader, not the free choice (self-determination) of the Sahrawis. But better than my own words, here you have the Speech of the Representative of the Sahrawi people, a month ago, before the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. It is a public document. You can read it at:

    Luis Portillo Pasqual del Riquelme      9:30 a.m. / Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Corcas is an instrument of Majzen, its credibility is null. Referendum is possible. Solution? Referendum with three options: Independence, autonomy or integration. Saharawi people must decide their future. Freedom.

    Miguel      3:40 a.m. / Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Miguel, the referendum is definitely obsolete. Read the last UN resolutions on the issue. The autonomy initiative is a sort of self-determination. It works on the great reconciliation of all the sahraouis. Someone in this forum says that the majority of sahraouis are unionists. That's a true fact. See:

    Ahmed Salem Amr Khaddad      10:30 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    Mr. Obama has not yet grasped the complexity of this conflict. As of now the American government needs once more to get closer the issue with the Western Sahara conflict by getting involoved with the daily lives of the people who actually live there. The majority of them are either Moroccan descent or would like to be under the Moroccan sovereignty. The residents of the region need jobs, homes and normal lives not more military and continued unrest.

    Abdessadek Fassil      7:12 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    Western Sahara is the last colony of Africa. The Saharawi people have the right of self determination. Morocco is a occupying force. Referendum now.

    Miguel      6:59 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    I'm Moroccan and I deeply feel happy for such a decision. The U.S. is never and will never be a one face nation. It has not helped us as we've helped them in piracy times. I wish the Polisario and Algeria government a great defeat because their cause is based on a fake agenda, and their people suffer more due to this invented conflict.

    Salhi      5:32 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    Perhaps the truth on the Sahara issue is best explained through this website:

    Aai Sahara      4:29 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    If Obama reverses Bush-backed Morocco plan in favor of Polisario, Mohamed 6 reverses Hassan-backed Referendum plan that his father accepted in favor of Autonomy. FairSquare.

    Najib      3:32 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    Wishful thinking at best! For practical reasons It is impossible to to have another country in that region governed by 150 to 200K people controlled by the Algerian generals. Furthermore anyone with deep understanding of the region, its history and people would know that it is not feasible. There are thousands of Sahrawis that are scattered throuhout Morocco with historical and family links to the region that feel offended to keep defending their Moroccanity. Thry are Moroccons period. We pray and hope our sisters and brothers in the ALgerian camps.

    Adil      3:27 a.m. / Monday, July 13, 2009

    For those who dont know the historical truth behind the Western Sahara conflict, this website demonstrates and clarifies the hidden motives behind the escalation of the conflict:

    Houari      12:53 a.m. / Sunday, July 12, 2009

    If Obama is for an independent state in Western Sahara, he has no real experience in the region. This problem would never had existed without the support of Algeria. We Moroccans don’t care what M. Obama and M. Bouteflika think. We believe that the Western Sahara Belongs to us and we belong to her. The U.S. policy is made by lobbying. Algeria seems to have a lot of money to spend.

    Mohamed AlWatani      8:40 p.m. / Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Danny, you seem to understand the meaning of Obama's message better than Obama himself!

    Larry      4:33 p.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    It seems Obama is still learning about this complex issue and therefore refrained from commiting to any side so far. To me the letter does not mean at all that he is backing the Polisario state. If he wants Morocco to remain an ally, he will have to think twice before making a decision. We trust you Obama. You can make the right decision!

    Kawthar      4:30 p.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    The Obama administration took a refreshing position as far as many issues around the world. In the question of Western Sahara, a question of decolonisation and human rights, Obama seems to be quite sensitive to the plights of the Sahrawi people and to international law. Morocco has been backed strongly by the Bush Administration in its autonomy proposal as the solution for the conflict. But still Obama has not pronounced himself clearly and inequivocally on the support of a Sahrawi State. The Sahrawi Republic is recognized by the African Union and Morocco is not member of that important African forum.

    Abdulmajid Abdussalam      1:54 p.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Morocco will not give up its territory no matter what. All Obama is saying is this: The king of Morocco should help with Middle East peace process, and I will help him with the Moroccan Sahara issue.

    Danny      1:34 p.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    I think Obama needs to benefit from Algeria oil, especially when he talks about the Polisario.

    Hassan      1:25 p.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    For all who are claiming the Moroccanity of Western Sahara, I would like to mention the following:

  • In 1975 Morocco embarked on an act of aggression against our country as it invaded and occupied by force our homeland. This was undertaken to further its dream of a “Greater Morocco” that would include the entire Western Sahara, the whole of Mauritania and parts of Mali and Algeria;
  • Both the Frente Polisario and Morocco accepted a Settlement Plan based on a referendum of self-determination. The UN declared a ceasefire in 1991 and a UN mission - MINURSO - was established in the Territory to prepare for the holding of a free and fair referendum that will give a chance for the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with UN resolutions and its doctrine of decolonisation.However, the referendum process is, now obstructed unilaterally by Morocco;
  • Morocco also accepted the UN/OAU Settlement Plan which is based on the organisation of a referendum of self-determination. Furthermore, Morocco signed the Houston Agreements negotiated under the auspices of James Baker the former Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General. The agreements were endorsed by the Security Council and should have lead to the organisation of the referendum;
  • However, in August 2004, Morocco decided to abandon the peace process and the referendum idea altogether. The reason why Morocco wants to avoid the referendum process is because it fears the verdict of the Saharawi people;
  • Auresiaus      12:21 p.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    The position of the Obama Administration seems to follow international legality towards the Sahara "conflict". On this subject, you can read the works of very relevant Americans, such as James Baker III, John Bolton, Frank Ruddy ("Western Sahara: Africa's last colony"), Stephen Zunes or Thomas M. Franck ("The Stealing of the Sahara"). See the References in my article: Western Sahara: The Legitimate Reasons of the Saharawi People

    Luis Portillo      7:33 a.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    The Western Sahara issue is a decolonization issue. The UN for the last 18 years sought to bring the U.S. to support the Sahrawi people's right to self determination by backing inequivocally the UN peace process. Obama is for the African Union's hope for the peaceful resolution of this conflict. The Sahrawis are member of the African Union. Obama cannot ignore the African stand on this issue, otherwise, many will be disappointed. Let us not prejudge Obama, and let him follow his reasonable mind in dealing with African issues. Yes he can.

    Abdulmajid      7:32 a.m. / Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Brain, Khalid, Hammou ... How dare you judge an American president?

    Sam      8:44 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

    Come on guys, try to be a bit honest. Western Sahara was invaded by the Moroccan army in 1975, just after the Spanish withdrawal. Tens of thoiusands of people were forced to flee to neighboring Algeria for their security. These are facts than can be checked out easily on Internet. Please, stop lying, it makes you sound ridiculous. Obama is not saying anything new. he's just going back to the former American position.

    Omar      8:40 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

    For those of you who think that President Obama has Moroccan interests in mind, wake up. He supports socialism and radical Islam. The Polisario Front would not exist without Algeria and this will lead to war.

    Brain      5:50 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

    It doesn't matter what Obama decides to do with the Polisario Issue, the Western Sahara is Moroccan and that's not negotiable. Obama has to be very carefull with this sensitive issue or he may end up loosing a great ally.

    Khalid      5:50 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

    If this is true, Obama needs to step down as president of the U.S. because he doesn't know what he is talking about. We'll see.

    American      4:36 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

    The first thing to understand is that Polisario does not represente the Sahara. This group was created by the Algerians. The people in Tindouf were forced from their homes in 1975 by the Algerian army.

    Hamou      3:48 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

    I think if President Obama didn't mention the Moroccan autonomy initiative that is not meaning that he is against it. President Obama is a just and fair man. He will for sure support any political acceptable solution by the two parties in the UN context. The Western Sahara region issue is a very complex matter. It's a separatism case supported initially by the Soviet Union bloc and supported actually by the last socialist countries in the world (Algeria, Cuba, Venezuela).

    Ahmed Salem Amr Khaddad      12:10 p.m. / Friday, July 10, 2009

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