The UN envoy’s first attempt Staffan de Mistura, To free the Western Sahara conflict from its paralysis and to involve a new actor in the search for solutions, in this case South Africa, has already led to a clash with Morocco, which yesterday “warned (De Mistura) of the consequences of his trip “. . Da Mistura’s unexpected journey to South Africa – a country that clearly agrees with the position of the Polisario independence front – was announced on Tuesday (a day before the event) by the spokesman for the Secretary General. Stephane Dujarric, a day before it happened, and Dujarric said it was “his mandate” to begin consultations with anyone he deemed appropriate.
Morocco waited four days to publicly announce that this trip had taken place after Rabat, having learned of the travel project, communicated in statements “directly to De Mistura and the UN Secretariat Morocco’s categorical rejection of such a trip.” Omar Hilale, Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations, to his country’s MAP agency.
Hilale went further in these statements and took the liberty of “clearly warning de Mistura about the consequences of his trip for the political process”after recalling that he hopes “this is not a disrespect for Morocco on the part of De Mistura, but a simple miscalculation.”
It is not the first time that Morocco has come into conflict with a UN envoy over a disagreement about his mission: eIn 2012 he declared the then envoy, the American Christopher Ross, “persona non grata”. and although then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kept him in that position for five more years, he had since become virtually “burned out” and had no interaction with Rabat.
The importance of South Africa in the Sahara conflict
Not surprisingly, South Africa’s inclusion in De Mistura’s contacts was received very differently by Morocco and the United States Polisario Front, to be the country that together with Algeria, has been Polisario’s main diplomatic support on the African continent for years. South Africa’s political weight on the continent is undeniable, even more so since the country played a leading role in prosecuting Israel at the International Court of Justice over the Gaza war, contributing to a traditional position of support for all anti-colonial movements.
When asked by EFE about the envoy’s reason for adding South Africa to his contacts, De Mistura’s office refused to provide a statement, citing Dujarric’s words and the discretion with which the Italian-Swedish diplomat carried out his work.
The representative of the Sahrawi movement before the UN, Sidi Mohamed Omar, For his part, he told EFE Visiting De Mistura is completely justified “taking into account the important role of South Africa in peaceful and just solutions to conflicts in Africa and beyond,” in clear reference to the complaint against Israel.
Omar added this South Africa “is a country recognized internationally for its vigorous defense of just causes such as Western Sahara and Palestine.” (in addition to) a firm commitment to international law and a rules-based world order anchored in the UN system.”
But it is precisely this closeness between South Africa and the Polisario Front that has angered Morocco, a closeness that ““Disqualifies South Africa from any interference in the Moroccan Sahara dossier”said the Moroccan ambassador in these statements. “Morocco will never allow South Africa to play a role in the Moroccan Sahara issue. Pretoria has been and continues to be toxic to the Moroccan Sahara issue,” Hilale concluded.
For Morocco, the Sahara conflict should remain within the framework of the Security Council and in the formula of round tables in which Rabat, the Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania participate, where the presence of Algeria as the main supporter of the Polisario is mandatory, but Algeria refuses to participate.
This blockage has led De Mistura to look for other solutions, but the South African route appears to be short-term. Unless De Mistura tries to impose himself on Morocco and ignore its warnings.