The United States has staged this Sunday in Dakhla, south of Western Sahara, its effective support for Morocco’s theses on the disputed territory, with the visit of the undersecretary of state for Middle East affairs, David Schinker. Although it had been speculated that his visit would serve to inaugurate a consulate of his country in the city, as promised by Donald Trump to Mohamed VI in a telephone conversation on December 10, the United States ambassador in Rabat, David Fischer, clarified that his country is still looking for the appropriate building for that diplomatic headquarters, but said it will be soon.
For this reason, Schinker’s visit had a rather symbolic value and served to reiterate the firm support of the United States for the “Moroccanness” of the Sahara and for the autonomy plan of Morocco as the only solution for the conflict of the former Spanish colony in dispute with the Polisario Front. It was the first time that an ambassador and a senior official had visited the Sahara territory, and Morocco did not hesitate to charter a plane and invite dozens of journalists to cover the visit.
In a joint statement with the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Naser Burita, Schinker was full of praise for King Mohamed VI and his “reign of reforms”, and cited in particular the protection of the Jewish community of Morocco, a theme that is always highlighted by Americans. Regarding bilateral relations, Schinker recalled several details that make Morocco a particular ally at the level even of Israel, such as the fact that it is on Moroccan soil where the first American consulate (Tangier) was founded or that Morocco is the only country in Africa with which the US has a free trade agreement.
At his side, the Moroccan Foreign Minister, plethora, recalled that his country and the United States are “exceptional partners”, and mentioned the close positions on international issues, even in countries as far away as Iran and Venezuela, where Rabat has aligned itself in recent years with the aggressive policies of Donald Trump. The Moroccan-American free trade agreement has already been renewed four times – Burita recalled – and has reached a volume of bilateral exchanges of 5,000 million dollars.
After the statements, Schinker and Burita visited a building decorated with the Moroccan and United States flags and that Rabat presented as a “provisional consulate”, although Ambassador Fischer clarified that his administration is examining this and other buildings for the future headquarters. Fischer specified that “digital services of a virtual consulate” in Dakhla have already existed since last Monday, but that this is only the first step to ensure a permanent presence.
Members of Schinker’s team explained to journalists that the consulate’s role will be primarily economic at first, to provide assistance to the 150 US companies already established in Morocco or those that dare to come in search of the most promising sectors in the world. Sahara: fishing, renewable energy, or tourism. On the risk that the next US administration of Joe Biden will reverse Trump’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara, Schinker did not want to speculate, “Each administration proceeds with its own policy and President Biden will have him,” he said. to Eph. However, sources from his team told reporters that Morocco is too important an ally for the United States to imagine a gesture – reversing the Sahara issue – that would not be well received by the Maghreb country.
None of those who took the floor today made the slightest allusion to the breaking of the ceasefire declared by the Polisario Front on November 14, ignoring the “war” that the Polisario claims to have declared on Morocco since then. In fact, in the city of Dakhla, the signs of a conflict were invisible, and the numerous police deployment for the visit was the usual one for the Moroccan police in the “southern provinces”, as Rabat calls Western Sahara.