UN to discuss US recognition of Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara

The UN Security Council will hold a meeting today to discuss changes to the US’ position on Western Sahara. Sovereignty

UN envoy to Western Sahara pushes for restart of peace talks

Photo: Flickr/Nick Brooks

The UN Security Council will hold a meeting today to discuss changes to the US’ position on Western Sahara.

Sovereignty over Western Sahara has been contested by Morocco and the pro-independence Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) since the 1970s. The US and the UN had, since the 1990s, sought a referendum to determine Western Sahara’s final status. In a reversal of this decades-long policy, the outgoing Trump administration recognised Western Sahara as Moroccan territory earlier this month in exchange for Morocco’s establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel.

Expect Security Council members to use today’s discussions to press the US to reconsider its Western Sahara policy. Germany has been especially critical of the shift and will likely support acknowledging the territory’s right to self-determination.

The US-Israeli partnership diminishes prospects of an outright reversal under the incoming Biden administration. If President-elect Joe Biden maintains the US’ new position, expect increasing regional conflict as the SADR seeks support from its Algerian allies following crackdowns against Sahrawi protesters by Moroccan security forces. As the SADR aims to extract concessions from Morocco, contention remains probable, despite Moroccan military superiority. If Biden ultimately reverses the US stance, expect a renewed focus on diplomatic solutions, including acceptance of an autonomy referendum for Western Sahara.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.