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The Role Of The Sahara Question In Framing Moroccan Foreign

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Par   •  15 Mai 2012  •  844 Mots (4 Pages)  •  1 215 Vues

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The Sahara question has been the most important concern of the Moroccan foreign policy. The role and the impact of the Sahara issue in the Kingdom’s foreign policy have varied considerably across the range of its foreign relations. In some cases, the dispute has been a fundamental factor in the relations, while in others it has beenfar less important. I will go through the different international relations of Morocco depicting the role of the Sahara issue in each relation and the consequences of this centrality of the dispute.

In some cases, Morocco’s pursuit of its Sahara policy has been the direct cause of severelytense relations with neighboring countries mainly Algeria.The Sahara dispute caused an inherent antagonism and general mistrust between the two bordering North African states since Algeria supports the Polisario Front against Morocco, which created repeated crises including military confrontations, closing of borders and mutual expulsion of each other’s’ citizens. The consequences were costly for Morocco (and Algeria): first, the closing of the borders is a great loss for both countries in terms of tourism, trade, security, anti-smuggling cooperation, and economy as a whole; second, the stressed relations between the two countries creates an obstacle to the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) which has been passive since the bilateral relations between the two hegemons of the union deteriorated. This union would empower the five member states in dealing with other blocs of states while negotiating trade and other matters. So, the Western Sahara issue is now the main impediment to improving their bilateral relations and reviving the UMA.

With regard to the Western world, the concern for the Sahara issue has led Morocco to use its resources (fishery, phosphate…) and services (counter-terrorism, counter-immigration…) to secure its major policy goal. Concerning Spain, Morocco uses its available assets to insure that Madrid’s policy towards the Sahara remains constant. Whenever the Spanish government wants to support the Polisario Front, Morocco does not hesitate to exploit Spain’s vulnerability with respect to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Mellila or to apply pressure over fishing rights. This policy have been so far successful in maintaining a neutral Spanish position towards the Sahara, although there have been some occasional crises like the sample referendum which was conducted by the some pro-Sahara groups in Andalusia, and which led to the rupture of diplomatic relations between the two countries for 2 years. One more thing which plays in favor of Morocco is the anti-immigration policy that Spain relies on Morocco to implement. The European state provides its Mediterranean neighbor with financial aid to help reduce the waves of illegal immigrants from Africa. Hence, although sometimes it has to compromise with Spain in regard to agreements of resources, Morocco receives Spanish aids and investments to counter immigration through Gibraltar.

Regarding France, it is a historical ally of Morocco and an ex-colonizer which maintained strong economic and political ties with the Kingdom. As it enjoys a unique position in accessing the Moroccan economy through investment and cooperation, France has officially a neutral position concerning the Sahara although practically it sides with Morocco by providing it with weapons, supporting its advanced status with the EU, and blocking the Security Council’s


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