Washington is reconsidering former President Donald Trump’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, the chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Spain has said.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Saturday, Conrad Tribble said: “We know that this is an important issue for Spain, and it is one of the many issues that are subject to reconsideration.”
“There are discussions with all the actors within the framework of the United Nations” on the subject, he explained, “but we have not taken any decision” pending a reassessment of the issue, because “minister [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken said that he wants to understand the context and the commitments made earlier.”
“What I can confirm is that the current administration seeks to consult with its allies and support multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, and any decision taken in such a case will be taken within this framework. ”
Tribble’s statement comes at a time when 25 senators, led by Senator James Einhoff, sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to reconsider Trump’s decision regarding the Western Sahara issue.
In December, just one month before he was due to leave office, Trump announced that Morocco would normalise relations with Israel in return for the US’ recognition of its sovereignty over Western Sahara. The US later said it was taking steps towards establishing a consulate in Western Sahara.
Morocco has been in conflict with the Algeria-backed separatist Polisario group over the Western Sahara since 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.
Rabat insists on its right to govern the region, but proposed autonomous rule in the Western Sahara under its sovereignty, but the Polisario Front wants a referendum to let the people determine the future of the region. Algeria has been supporting the Front’s proposal and hosts refugees from the region.
The 1991 ceasefire came to an end last year after Morocco resumed military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which the Polisario said was a provocation.
By launching the operation, Morocco “seriously undermined not only the ceasefire and related military agreements but also any chances of achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara,” Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, said in a letter to the UN.