Biden Proposes Diplomat Supportive of Moroccan Sahara as Ambassador to Algeria

Joshua Harris, who enjoys good relations with both Morocco and Algeria, may play a significant role in urging Algerian authorities to abandon their obstinacy on the Sahara issue

US President Joe Biden has proposed diplomat Joshua Harris to serve as the US ambassador to Algeria, replacing Elizabeth Moore, despite his clear stance in support of the Moroccan Sahara‘s territorial integrity and the Moroccan autonomy initiative to resolve the artificial conflict, which sends a strong message from the US administration to Algerian authorities regarding their decisive positions on the issue.

According to US law, the proposal must be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to whom the proposal was sent in February, as published on the official White House website.

Harris currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Africa Affairs at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, overseeing relations with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

Biden did not select Harris randomly, as the prominent diplomat is well-versed in Algerian-Moroccan relations and the Sahara issue, and was among the architects of the strategic relations between Rabat and Washington, which have strengthened in recent years.

Former US President Donald Trump ended his term in December 2020 by issuing a decree recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara, following a tripartite agreement between Washington, Rabat, and Israel to restore diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and the Israeli state. The Biden administration has reinforced this direction and deepened strategic relations between Rabat and Washington in various fields.

Many observers believe that Joshua Harris is among the architects of strengthening Moroccan-American relations, especially regarding support for the Moroccan initiative on the Sahara. Therefore, Biden‘s request to appoint him sends a strong and clear message that reversing recognition of the Moroccan Sahara‘s sovereignty cannot be realistic and that recognition is part of US foreign policy priorities.

On the other hand, Harris maintains good relations with the Algerian side. Last December, he met with Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf to discuss Algerian-American relations in the context of Algerian-Russian rapprochement, which particularly concerns the American side after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

Data from this meeting indicate that Harris informed Attaf that “Washington supports autonomy to resolve the Sahara issue, considering it serious, credible, and realistic,” emphasizing “that the UN Security Council is clear that the process must reflect the spirit of realism and settlement of circumstances on the ground currently.”

The American diplomat still ignores the Polisario Front in his discourse on the Sahara issue, considering the artificial conflict primarily a dispute between Algeria and Morocco, with the separatist front being merely a tool in the hands of the Algerian government.

Analysts believe that Harris will work to convince the Algerian side of the reality of the Moroccan initiative and encourage them to abandon their obstinacy in the issue, asserting that they are not a party to the conflict.

Biden‘s proposal to appoint Joshua Harris as ambassador to Algeria reflects the diplomatic successes achieved by Morocco in making the autonomy initiative a reality and definitively ending the artificial conflict.

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