- HASSAN MASIKY
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Morocco’s dismal diplomatic performance on the international scene seems to have changed little during Saad Eddine Othmani tenure as Morocco's first political appointee Foreign Minister. Moroccan diplomats, lacking a grand plan to promote their country’s diplomatic agendas, keep stumbling on the face of a more “ideologically”driven Algerian schema.
The European Parliament (EU) latest resolution denouncing Morocco’s human rights “abuses” in the Moroccan Sahara and the Socialist International Council communiqué critical of Rabat are two too many setbacks added to an ever-expanding list of diplomatic and political disappointments.
Although the Socialist, Green and Communist Members of the European Parliament who drafted and passed a baised anti-Morocco resolution were ideologically motived, Moroccan diplomats inability to muster their allies to counter draft a bill exposing Algeria’s double game is ominous of on going serious dificenccies at Morocco’s Foreign service.
The EU criticism comes on the heels of confirmation by Malian officials of links between terrorist groups in the Sahel and Western Sahara separatists Polisario fighters. Yet, Moroccan diplomats in Strasbourg and Moroccan Socialists in Portugal could not make a case for an open and unrestricted access to Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf, Algeria. The EU “plea” to the Moroccan authorities for “the protection of fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara, including freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to protest” is reprehensible given the fact that thousands of Sahrawis are living under Algerian rule in deplorable, inhuman, and merciless conditions in the unforgiving desert. Moroccan Sahrawi initiatives to advocate for the rights of their brothers in Tindouf have been inadequate.
Rabat’s inability to mount a sustained and relentless diplomatic campaign to highlight the plight of thousands of Sahrawi civilians forcibly warehoused by the Algerian military in the Algerian deserts and to denounce Algeria’s continues refusal to let independent human rights organizations access refugees on its soil is indefensible and unacceptable. The Moroccan public has the right to assess and critic the diplomatic performance gap of Moroccan embassies in Brussels, Paris, Madrid and Rome.
The Moroccan diplomacy has been ineffective in utilizing the Malian crisis to underline Algeria and the African Union’s double standards on applying the concept of “self-determination”. As the EU appealed for "a just and lasting settlement of the conflict based on the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” Moroccan diplomats in Strasbourg should have been busy making a case for Malian and Algerian Touareg’ right to self-rule.
The most “embarrassing” aspect of the EU’s adopted text is not the pro-Polisario language but rather the absence of wording on the deplorable conditions in the Western sahara Separatists Tindouf camps and Algeria’s obstructive and unconstructive role hampering the United Nations effort to resolve the Western Sahara conflict.
The Moroccan public finds the absence of an aggressive and coherent diplomatic campaign to denounce the conditions in the Sahrawi refugee camps inexcusable. Past Moroccan campaigns to denounce the Algerian backed Polisario guerilla’s oppressive policies were ineffective, incompetent and unimpressive.
The lack of credible and competent Moroccan diplomatic initiatives is discomforting given the pool of gifted Moroccan talents around the world. Morocco’s weak and spotty performance as a member of the United Nations Security Council and Rabat hesitant role in the Mali crisis are two missed occasions for our timid diplomats. Even though criticism of the Moroccan diplomacy is common and “cyclic” in the Moroccan press, failures such as the EU resolution on the Western Sahara should not go unnoticed at a time when the amount of dollars and infrastructure the Moroccan government has put forward to defend its territorial integrity are considerable and mounting.