Morocco welcomed the new decision, while the Polisario Front confirmed that it was in the process of evaluating it and would issue a statement in due course.
The Front pre-empted its statement by harsh criticism of the text of the resolution, which was adopted with the approval of 13 countries, in exchange for Tunisia and Russia abstentions.
The resolution drafted by the United States calls for a realistic, lasting and acceptable political solution to the conflict, and expresses its full support for the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to facilitate the negotiation process.
In this context, the resolution calls on Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front to resume negotiations without preconditions and in good faith, provided that the negotiations are in the form of round tables.
Russia’s objection to some of the language in the draft resolution delayed the voting session, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
According to diplomatic sources, Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, objected to the powers of the MINURSO mission and the format of negotiations. However, the United States, as the owner of the drafting pen, rejected the amendments demanded by Moscow and preserved the original version of the text.
Immediately after the voting session, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita made statements to the press, in which he stressed that the decision is important for Morocco as it perpetuates the gains it has accumulated on the issue of the Sahara.
Bourita stressed that these gains were mentioned by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in his last report on the Sahara. He summarized them in three main points: securing the Guerguerat crossing with Mauritania, reopening it for commercial traffic, the American recognition of the Moroccan Sahara, and opening a group of Consulates in the southern provinces of the Kingdom.
The head of Moroccan diplomacy stressed that the Security Council has frankly identified the parties involved in the issue, considering that the negotiation process is the only solution to resolving the Sahara issue.
The minister renewed Morocco’s commitment to the ceasefire, in response to the paragraph that stated the United Nations’ concern over the ceasefire violation. In this section, the UN text referred to the announcement by the Polisario Front in November 2020 that the cease-fire with Morocco had ended due to the events at the Guerguerat crossing.
For his part, Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations, Omar Hilal, announced that the UN Security Council, in its 18th consecutive resolution, renewed the seriousness of the Moroccan initiative for autonomy, pointing out that the adoption of this new resolution comes in the context of “full of optimism” for the resumption of the political process, following the appointment of Staffan de Mistura is the new Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Sahara.
During a press conference at the Security Council, the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations highlighted that the new resolution affirms the “continuity” of the round tables series as a “single and one” framework for settling the regional conflict.
The international expert in international relations and the issue of the Sahara, Sabri Al-Haw, believes that the vote by the majority of countries on the text of the resolution drafted by Washington, without making any amendments to it, is a “victory for Moroccan diplomacy” and for “the Registry of Editing the Draft”, in reference to the United States, which recognized the Moroccan Sahara.
This vote also reflects, according to the Moroccan expert, the credibility that the Moroccan proposal has gained in international circles.
Of the 15 countries invited to vote, 13 countries agreed to the text of the resolution, including four permanent members, namely the United States, France, Britain and China.
In a statement to “Sky News Arabia”, Sabri El-Haw believes that the phrases that came in the UN Security Council resolution, such as reaching a “permanent and realistic” solution, evoke the spirit of the autonomy initiative, which Morocco presented as a peaceful solution to the conflict.
In 2007, Rabat presented an initiative based on the enjoyment of autonomy for the residents of the Saharan regions, considering it a realistic, serious, practical and permanent framework for the Sahara issue.
The text of the resolution affirmed that the Security Council took note of the Moroccan proposal and praised what it described as “the seriousness of Moroccan efforts to reach a solution to the conflict.”
The university professor considers that the result of the vote on the text of the resolution constitutes an implicit recognition of the Moroccan proposal.
During the voting session, the autonomy proposal received strong support from France and the United States.
Revision of the referendum proposal
On the other hand, the text of the new UN Security Council resolution on the Sahara did not refer to the referendum proposal submitted by the Polisario Front, which categorically rejects the autonomy proposal.
In this context, Sabri al-Haw confirms that the UN Security Council, since 2004, no longer refers to this procedure, and urges the need to search for a political solution, negotiated and acceptable to all parties.
A number of UN officials have admitted that the referendum in the desert is not applicable, because the process of the referendum based on identification is an impossible task due to the tribal and nomadic nature of the desert population.
The UN Security Council resolution calls on Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania to return to the Round Tables series that was suspended in 2019.
A week before the vote on the UN Security Council resolution, Algeria expressed its refusal to return to this form of negotiations, and distributed an official memorandum to the members of the Security Council confirming that its decision not to participate was “irreversible.”
On a question regarding the impact of the Algerian boycott on the political process, the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, affirmed that without Algeria, the “concerned party” in the conflict, “there cannot be a political process.”
A difficult task for the new envoy
The international resolution puts the new Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, in a difficult position at the beginning of his mission, which he assumed after two years of vacancy in the position.
The veteran diplomat must start where his predecessor, Horst Koehler, who held the last round of negotiations at a round table in Switzerland in 2019 before resigning after being unable to find common ground between the parties to the dispute, had to start.
In a statement to Sky News Arabia, the professor of international relations, Abdel-Fattah Balamchi, believes that one of the priorities of the new UN envoy is to bring the parties to the negotiating table.
The new resolution on the Sahara called on the parties concerned to cooperate with the new envoy and to make commitments by their involvement in the political process. It also renewed confidence in de Mistura, who hopes that he will not fail in his mission as he failed in the Syrian crisis.
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