The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has given his country’s full backing for a final solution to the Western Sahara issue under full Moroccan sovereignty.
Addressing the UN General Assembly convening in New York, Al Khalifa stressed “the need to support the negotiations aimed at achieving a consensual and final political solution to this problem in the context of Moroccan national sovereignty.”
The Bahraini official argued that the final solution should also be based on “relevant Security Council resolutions that confirm the seriousness of Morocco’s self-government initiative” and urged “all parties to fully cooperate with the United Nations in this respect.”
The Western Sahara is a region on North Africa’s Atlantic coast that borders Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania which has been the subject of contention for the last 42 years. The native population, called Sahrawis, number around 570,000 with the vast majority living in refugee camps along Algeria’s border for the last 26 years.
The Western Sahara was colonised by Spain in 1884 and remained part of the Spanish kingdom for more than a hundred years until it was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Spain then transferred control of the region to Morocco and Mauritania and the Western Sahara has since been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Morocco and the Sahrawis represented by the Sahrawi movement, called the Polisario Front.
Morocco wants the Western Sahara to remain as an autonomous, self-governing part of its sovereignty which Bahrain, along with a number of countries backs. But the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, demands a referendum on the region’s independence which the UN has failed to deliver since the ceasefire 26 years ago.
Whilst attending the UN General Assembly, Al Khalifa called for a strong and stable Middle East where Bahrain will support positive relations with other countries.
He also reiterated the country’s strong non-interventionist role in the internal affairs of other countries and expressed its support in fighting “terrorism”. Despite its “non-interventionist role”, Bahrain has joined a number of countries lead by Saudi Arabia in cutting off diplomatic ties with Qatar after accusing it of supporting “terrorism” and destabilising the region which Doha has denied.