The official website of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has used a map which shows Morocco included with the Western Sahara region.
The publication of the "undivided" map of Morocco was part of a press release regarding the military alliance's Defence Education Enhancement Program (DEEP), with the kingdom making up one of 16 "Partner Nations".
The move appears to come a day after US Ambassador to Morocco David Fischer unveiled his country's new official map of Morocco which includes the contested region and follows an earlier decision by the administration of out-going US President Donald Trump in recognising Morocco's territorial claims and supporting its "Autonomy Plan" over Western Sahara in exchange for Rabat normalising relations with Israel.
Moroccan news outlet Le360.ma described the development as "a new slap in the face for the enemies of the territorial integrity of the Kingdom" with the publication of NATO'S map confirming "the historical evidence of the Kingdom's sovereignty over its Saharan provinces".
According to the UN's official map, the Western Sahara is depicted as a disputed territory. A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco and Mauritania in 1975. A year later the Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, with a government in exile based in Algeria. Although Mauritania withdrew its forces in 1979, Morocco refused to do the same and maintained that the Western Sahara forms an integral part of its kingdom.
"Morocco's treatment of the Sahrawis is in some ways like Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Over the years Morocco has used subsidies and tax breaks to convince thousands of its people to move to Western Sahara in an effort to cement its control." https://t.co/qKy6ZUyJ8I pic.twitter.com/J6tWYUMARk
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) December 31, 2020
Last week the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Kenneth Roth stated that Morocco implements the same methods as those used by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinians, in an attempt to consolidate its control of the Western Sahara. Days earlier, Moroccan authorities expressed anger over HRW's position on the region which was described as promoting "political discourse hostile to the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco".