Moroccan Sahara: Ambassador Omar Hilale Deconstructs Founding Lies of Algeria’s Separatist Agenda

Morocco’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Omar Hilale, deconstructed on October 11, before members of the Fourth Committee (4C) of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the seven founding lies of Algeria’s separatist agenda on the Moroccan Sahara.

Hilale recalled that “60 years ago, almost to the day, and in this very building, Morocco demanded, in 1963, that the question of the then-called Spanish Sahara be placed on the agenda of the Special Committee on Decolonization, to definitively recover its Saharan provinces.

The ambassador pointed out that this demand was confirmed by the first resolution of the Committee of 24 (C24) in 1964, followed by that of the General Assembly (UNGA), adopted in 1965, which called on Spain to immediately decolonize the “Spanish Sahara” and the adjoining enclave of Ifni through negotiations with Morocco.

“Thanks to the negotiations advocated by these resolutions, Ifni returned to the Motherland in 1969, while the decolonization of the Sahara was completed in 1975, with the memorable return of this territory to Morocco, through the historic Green March of November 6, 1975, and the Madrid Agreement of the same year”, noted Hilale, stressing that this agreement was deposited with the Secretary-General (UNSG), then endorsed by the General Assembly (UNGA) in its resolution 3458B of December 10, 1975.

The UN official underlined that “the UN history of the Moroccan Sahara could have ended there; had it not been for the adversity of Algeria, which created, harbored, armed, and financed the armed separatist group +polisario+”, stressing that in the international promotion of its proxy, this neighboring country has excelled in what the Greek philosopher Socrates described, 25 centuries ago, as the founding myth of posturing.

The Moroccan diplomat listed the seven founding lies of Algeria’s separatist agenda in the Moroccan Sahara, as well as the avalanche of falsifications of history and the flood of distortions of international law reiterated by the Algerian representative in his speech before the Fourth Committee (4C).

Ambassador Hilale stated that the first lie concerns Algeria’s claim of defending the right to self-determination, which is merely a smokescreen used by Algeria to achieve its hegemonic aims.

“Algeria is using this principle exclusively for the Moroccan Sahara, the only issue it has been raising for years, without daring to say a single word about the other issues examined by this Committee”, stressed the UN official. 

Hilale recalled that Algeria had disregarded this principle by submitting, through its former president the late Abdelaziz Bouteflika, on November 2, 2001, in Houston, to the then Secretary-General’s (UNSG) Personal Envoy, James Baker, a proposal for the partition of the Sahara territory, as recorded in the Secretary-General’s (SG) report S/2002/178 of February 19, 2002, paragraph 2.

The Moroccan representative recalled that former Algerian ambassador Abdellah Baali sent, on July 22, 2002, a more detailed letter to the President of the Security Council (UNSC), in which he stated that Algeria was willing to examine the proposal concerning a possible partition of the Sahara territory, adding that Morocco had immediately and categorically rejected this position.

Ambassador Hilale also noted that “Algeria has put the principle of self-determination under the bushel with the proclamation, in Algiers, of a puppet republic, which is contrary to the very principle of self-determination”.

“Algeria is denying this principle to people who demanded it long before the establishment of the Algerian state in 1962, who are the valiant Kabyle people”, stressed the Moroccan ambassador. 

Referring to the second lie that concerns Algeria’s demand for respecting international legality, the Moroccan diplomat underlined that this country “is constantly violating international legality and flouts the United Nations Charter when it comes to the principles of respect for territorial integrity, the non-use of violence, and the primacy of the peaceful settlement of disputes”.

“Algeria only took an interest in Security Council resolutions until 2001, when the Secretary-General declared the settlement plan inapplicable and the referendum obsolete,” detailed Hilale, noting that Algeria has ignored Security Council (SC) resolutions since 2002, simply because they recommend a political, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.

The diplomat explained that “the paradox remains that some of these resolutions were adopted with Algeria’s endorsement and contribution, while it was a member of the Council between 2004 and 2005”, noting that Algeria has gone so far as to officially reject some Security Council resolutions, such as resolutions 2602 and 2654, adopted in 2021 and 2022.

Hilale also considered Algeria’s refusal to return to the round table process a flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions, international law, and United Nations (UN) legality, stressing that Algeria is violating international law by delegating its sovereignty over part of its territory, namely the Tindouf camps, to a separatist armed group, the +polisario+, which “has been denounced by the Human Rights Committee and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention”.

As for the third lie spread by Algerian diplomacy, which describes Algeria as a “mere observer” on the Sahara issue, the ambassador stressed that despite its denials, Algeria has been the main party to this regional dispute since its inception.

The UN Ambassador stressed that Algeria “had claimed this status in the official letter of its former ambassador to the UN, to the UNSG, on November 19, 1975”, in which he stated that “in addition to Spain as administering power, the +parties concerned and interested+ in the Sahara affair are: Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania”.

Noting that Algeria is introduced even before Morocco, Hilale noted that the official document makes no reference to the +polisario+, even though Algeria was already hosting it on its territory.

“Algeria has become accustomed to the United Nations reacting to all proposals from the SG and his personal envoys, and refused the Framework Agreement proposed by former Personal Envoy James Baker in a communiqué issued by Algeria’s Council of Ministers on February 25, 2002,” recalled the Moroccan Ambassador. 

The Moroccan Permanent Representative to the UN also pointed out that Algeria is taking economic retaliation against all countries supporting the Moroccan Autonomy Plan and protesting to all member states supporting Morocco in the Fourth Committee (4C).

“Resolution 2654, which definitively established the roundtables as the exclusive framework for the UN political process, identifies Algeria as one of the four parties to take part, in the same format as the first two Geneva roundtables”, explained the diplomat.

In what concerns the fourth founding lie of Algeria’s separatist agenda, which presents the Sahara as an “occupied territory”, Hilale stressed that Algeria is ignoring International Law and Security Council resolutions.

“The notion of occupation applies, according to the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, to the territory of a State already in existence during an international armed conflict”, recalled Hilale, underlining that the Sahara has never been a State, and will never be one.

“It [Sahara] has always been an integral part of Morocco for centuries, by virtue of the populations’ legal allegiance to the Moroccan Sultan, as recognized by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion of October 16, 1975,”, stressed the Moroccan ambassador, adding that no UN Secretary-General report or Security Council resolution qualifies Morocco as an “occupying power”.

Addressing the fifth Algerian lie claiming that the referendum is the “solution” to this regional dispute, the Moroccan diplomat recalled that this so-called referendum is dead and buried, despite Algeria’s vain attempts, stressing that “you can’t resurrect the dead”. 

“In his report of February 23, 2000 (paragraph 32), the UN Secretary-General concluded that the settlement plan was inapplicable, therefore, the referendum was obsolete,” recalled Hilale, pointing out that the Security Council had never mentioned the referendum in any of its 36 resolutions adopted over the past 22 years.

In the same vein, the diplomat stated that the General Assembly has not referred to the referendum for almost 20 years, adding that the Algerian resolution to be adopted by the Committee at the end of the debate, similar to all those that have preceded it for almost two decades, will not mention the referendum whatsoever.

In what concerns the sixth lie in the founding myth of the Algerian position on the Moroccan Sahara, which describes Algeria as the host country of the ‘Sahrawi refugee’ camps in Tindouf, Hilale stressed that “Algeria is not the host country of the Tindouf refugee camps, but rather the jailer of the populations sequestered there”.

“These camps are a lawless zone and the scene of serious and widespread violations of international law, perpetrated by the armed separatist group +polisario+, which has proven links with the terrorist nebula in the Sahel,” denounced Hilale, noting that Algeria is politically instrumentalizing these camps and presenting them as the symbol of the existence of a so-called problem called “Western Sahara”.

The Moroccan diplomat underlined that these camps enroll, recruit, and force children to join the +polisario+ militias as soldiers, condemning a “war crime” under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As for the seventh lie alleging that Algeria “bears” the humanitarian burden of the Tindouf camps, ambassador Hilale noted that the humanitarian aid that this country grants to the Tindouf camps is infinitesimally minimal.

“It is the international community that provides the bulk of humanitarian and financial aid to these camps,” emphasized the UN official, noting that Algeria spends several billion dollars arming the separatist +polisario+ group and providing it with diplomatic support around the world, notably through lobbying firms.

Hilale further explained that “Algeria turns a blind eye to the misappropriation of international humanitarian aid by officials of the Algerian Red Crescent and those of the armed separatist group +polisario+.”

The Moroccan ambassador concluded that these systematic and large-scale detours have been confirmed by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and most recently the World Food Programme (WFP), in its January 2023 report, entitled “Evaluation of Algeria WFP Interim Country Strategic Plan 2019-2022”.

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