Moroccan Sahara: Five questions to Morocco’s ambassador to UN, Omar Hilale
Following the adoption of Security Council resolution N° 2548 on the Moroccan Sahara, the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, was interviewed by the Moroccan News Agency (MAP).
The Security Council has just adopted resolution 2548. What’s new with it?
The value of a resolution is not reduced only to the novelty it induces, but above all in what it reaffirms. With this new resolution, the Security Council reiterates its decisions and positions on the Moroccan Sahara issue. It therefore declines a modus operandi that reinforces the fundamentals of the Moroccan position for the final settlement of this dispute:
1-The solution to this issue can only be political, realistic, pragmatic, lasting and based on compromise.
2-The round table process, with its format, its modalities and its four participants, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the “polisario”, is the only way to reach this political solution.
3-Algeria is a main party in this regional dispute. It will no longer be able to be limited to a formal participation in the opening and closing of the talks, as was the case during the thirteen rounds of the Manhasset process. Now, the Security Council requires it to engage seriously, throughout the process, until its conclusion.
4-Autonomy is the only serious and credible initiative that may put an end to this regional dispute, within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Morocco.
The novelty in this resolution concerns the appointment of a new Personal Envoy. What is your reaction to this?
The Security Council is in its role by expressing its expectation of the appointment of a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General and by encouraging him to resume consultations between the four participants, where they left off, and to build on the progress made by former Personal Envoy Horst Köhler.
For its part, Morocco has full confidence in the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We are certain that he will find the right profile and the right stature, to match ex-President Horst Köhler, in order to relaunch and bring the political process to a successful conclusion.
Algeria continues to call for a referendum. Does this call not contradict the parameters established by the Security Council?
This is more than a contradiction. Either Algeria’s diplomatic software is two decades behind, or it persists in its ostrich policy. In either case, Security Council resolutions clearly invalidate its request. The referendum is not a principle, but rather an instrument that the Security Council has banned from its resolution lexicon for the 20th consecutive year and in its 34 successive resolutions since 2001. By abstaining from any reference to the referendum, the Security Council disavowed the adversaries of our territorial integrity. This abandonment of the referendum by the Security Council put Algeria and its “polisario” in front of their historical responsibility. Either engage resolutely in the political process or cause its cardiac arrest.
In the Sahara, advanced regionalization is underway. Soon, there will be nothing left to discuss except lay down their arms, like several separatist movements across the world, and free the populations held against their will in the Tindouf camps so that they can return to the motherland, Morocco.
What is your reaction to the worrying increase in violations and provocations by the “polisario”?
These violations, which Morocco condemns in the strongest terms, deeply concern the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the members of the Security Council. The new Security Council resolution was firm in once again calling on the armed separatist group, the “Polisario”, to respect the ceasefire, the military agreements and the resolutions of the Council. The injunction comes in the wake of the UN Secretary-General’s report to the Council, which exposed thousands of “Polisario” violations of unprecedented magnitude and gravity.
The “blocking” of the Guergerate passage, the sending of the “Polisario” militias including civilians, women and children, to the edge of the Defense System and their instrumentalization in face to face with the Moroccan soldiers even in front of their posts, undermine the political process and threaten regional peace and stability. These provocations could have led to serious and violent incidents if it were not for the exemplary restraint, composure and professional discipline of our valiant soldiers, which was unanimously praised by all the officials of the UN Secretariat and MINURSO. Senior UN officials are kept informed on a daily basis of these violations while warning them that the Kingdom’s patience and restraint have limits. Also, the “Polisario” must know that by persisting in its destabilizing actions, it dismisses itself and loses all ability, if it still had any, to sit around the round table. Its provocations risk definitively putting an end to its participation in the political process.
The opening of consulates in the Moroccan Sahara continues and is intensified. What does this major development mean to you?
The opening of these consulates is indeed a major development in the Moroccan Sahara issue. In accordance with international law, this is a sovereign act that is consent between the receiving State and the sending State. These openings are the result of three structuring factors:
First, a strategic vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who aims to make the Moroccan Sahara a regional hub for Morocco at the service of the African continent. Second, a model for the economic development of the southern provinces, accompanied by the strengthening of the rule of law and inclusive and participatory democracy. The threefold dimension of calm, development and respect for human rights in the Sahara has been underlined in the last report of the UN Secretary General to the Security Council and in resolution 2548.
Third, the diplomatic confirmation of the Moroccanity of the Sahara with the opening of nearly fifteen consulates from brotherly and friendly African countries. This diplomatic breakthrough will soon see its natural extension to the Gulf region, thanks to the imminent opening of the United Arab Emirates Consulate in Laayoune, and will soon find its continuity in other regions of the world.