Antonio Guterres highlights economic development and diplomatic progress in Western Sahara

The UN Secretary General also confirmed the presence of "armed" elements of the Polisario in Guergarat in October and November 2020
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AFP/ SALVATORE DI NOLFI  -   UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, presented an annual report to the Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara. Guterres highlighted the diplomatic progress and economic development in the region this year. He also mentioned the hostilities carried out by "armed" elements of the Polisario Front at the Guerguarat border crossing in October and November 2020.

"The helicopter reconnaissance operations by MINURSO (the UN mission in Western Sahara) over Guerguarat revealed the presence of twelve armed Polisario elements in military uniform", the Secretary General's report details. The UN mission observers also confirmed the presence of "eight military vehicles, two of them equipped with heavy weapons". "This armed group is conducting low-intensity hostilities," he added.

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PHOTO/ONU/MARTINE PERRET - Peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) consult a map as they travel through vast desert areas of Smara, Western Sahara.

Regarding Morocco's actions in the Sahara, Guterres underlined the number of consulates that have been opened in the region since December 2019. A total of 26 countries, including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have opened diplomatic offices in the Saharawi cities of El Aaiún and Dakhla. In this regard, Guterres emphasised Washington's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

"The United States recognised Moroccan sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara and reaffirmed its support for Morocco's serious, credible and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to this conflict," Guterres said, according to Bladi. 

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (L) and UAE Ambassador to Morocco Al-Asri Saeed Ahmed Aldhaheri (R) inaugurate the UAE Consulate in Laayoune, the main city in the disputed region of Western Sahara, on 4 November 2020.

He also emphasised the infrastructure projects, which greatly favour the economic development of the Sahara region. "On 30 April, the Moroccan authorities announced that the plan to build the port of Dakhla is underway," he said.

He also highlighted the work on a motorway linking Tiznit to Dakhla. Among the Kingdom's plans to promote the economy of the southern regions, mention should be made of the project of the British company Xlinks, which will build a solar and wind power installation in Guelmin Oued Noun.

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - Border crossing point between Morocco and Mauritania at Guerguerat in Western Sahara on 24 November 2020, following the intervention of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in the area.

Hisham Motaddad, an expert in international relations, explains to Al Arab that this report on the political, economic and diplomatic achievements in the Sahara "is part of the international current that supports the justice of the Moroccan national cause".

"The presence of diplomatic structures and Washington's recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over the Sahara represent basic pillars and important components of international law and therefore support Morocco's sovereignty over its southern provinces and Moroccan territorial integrity," Motaddad adds.

PHOTO/AFP - The US and Moroccan flags next to a map of Morocco authorised by the US State Department.

Morocco's recent elections also reaffirmed the Moroccanness of the Sahara, as stated by Omar Hilale, Moroccan ambassador to the UN. The Sahrawi areas experienced a high voter turnout. "The population of the two regions of the Moroccan Sahara has shown a strong attachment to this triple scrutiny, with the highest participation rates in Morocco," he said.

In Laayoune-Saguia el-Hamra the rate was 66.94%, while in Dakhla-Oued Eddahab it was 58.30%. In addition, a large number of international observers were present at these elections and did not report any irregularities on election day. Subsequently, several international delegations in the country praised Morocco's successful democratic exercise