British MPs Urge Cameron to Support Moroccan Autonomy Initiative

The signatories of the letter affirm that the autonomy initiative to resolve the artificial conflict in the Sahara respects local traditions and democratic aspirations and offers a viable solution to achieve lasting peace and stability

About thirty British parliamentarians and lords from the Labour and Conservative parties sent a letter on Friday to Foreign Secretary David Cameron, urging him to officially and promptly support the Moroccan autonomy initiative as it is considered “the only solution” to the artificial conflict over the Moroccan Sahara. This indicates significant successes achieved by Moroccan diplomacy to support this initiative at the international level.

This call comes amid expectations that London will move towards ending its neutrality on the Sahara conflict and supporting the autonomy proposal and Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara, as its strategic interests require strengthening relations with Rabat, which is confirmed by the increasing voices calling for this decision within the government as well.

The MPs and members of the House of Lords stated in the letter published by the official Moroccan news agency that “the autonomy initiative proposed by Morocco is the only solution to end the artificial conflict in the Sahara.” Besides being the “most pragmatic path,” it “respects local traditions and democratic aspirations and offers a viable solution to achieve lasting peace and stability.”

The signatories of the letter emphasized that the autonomy initiative “enjoys wide support” from London’s allies and more than 80 countries worldwide. They said that “rallying around this plan, which constitutes ‘the only realistic solution,’ reflects the desire of international partners to strengthen regional stability and prosperity, which enhances the central role of the autonomy initiative in promoting peace efforts.”

They warned that “there should be no room for further separatism or division,” but rather, it is necessary to “strengthen Morocco’s proactive commitment to consolidating regional security and stability,” emphasizing that “remaining neutral or attempting to conceive alternative solutions can only perpetuate the negative status quo that endangers the region’s security.”

Several of the letter’s signatories visited Morocco and its southern regions, allowing them to meet local leaders, civil society representatives, and human rights organizations, making them more familiar with aspects of the issue.

They confirmed, along with renowned academics such as Professor Marc Weller, Chair of International Law and International Constitutional Studies at the University of Cambridge, “their conviction that the United Kingdom should provide proactive support for the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco.”

Member of the House of Lords, Daniel Hannan, had called earlier this year to recognize Morocco’s “full sovereignty” over its Sahara and to strengthen trade relations between the two kingdoms, expressing his deep admiration for Moroccan industrial sites during his visit to the Kingdom. This indicates that the position of the lords came after significant efforts and steps taken by Rabat to clarify many aspects of the Sahara issue to British politicians and public opinion.

British Conservative MP Liam Fox also sent a message to Cameron earlier this year, stressing the need for the United Kingdom to take a “more effective and supportive stance” on the Moroccan Sahara issue.

The signatories of the letter stressed the need to participate in the development and investments abundant in the Sahara region, highlighting the numerous economic and investment opportunities available there. They said that “it is a region rich in potential capable of significantly improving energy opportunities, securing supply chains, and enabling access to new markets.”

They spoke about “strategic infrastructure like the massive Dakhla port,” as evidence of sustainable progress, enabling the region to position itself as a hub for innovation and international cooperation.

They called on the current British government “to provide support through its financial institutions, such as British export finance and international British investment, to fully realize these investment opportunities.”

They emphasized that “this approach, adopted particularly by the United States and France, aligns with the partnership agreement concluded between the two countries, which includes the Moroccan Sahara region, and which the London Supreme Court has deemed legal.” They affirmed that “the United Kingdom should strengthen its alliances with stable, like-minded countries to reinforce regional stability and international security.”

They also highlighted Morocco’s role in its regional environment, considering that Morocco “occupies a distinguished position” among these partner countries. They continued by saying that “it is a leading strategic ally in North Africa, sharing the vital values and perspectives of our two countries.”

The MPs and lords concluded that the upcoming strategic dialogue between the United Kingdom and Morocco represents a unique opportunity for the United Kingdom to redefine its role and influence in the region, stressing that “Morocco deserves our full and unequivocal support.”

The rapprochement with Morocco is vital for Britain, especially after the signing of numerous economic and trade agreements between Rabat and London following Brexit, as Britain relies on Morocco to compensate for trade exchanges with the European Union and meet its needs, especially in agricultural products.

London looks forward to signing a new trade agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco, similar to the comprehensive partnership agreement that came into force in January 2021.

London has planned to lay an undersea cable to transport renewable energy from Morocco, considering this project of “national importance” after securing the necessary funding for its implementation, which means that bilateral relations between the two parties will be strong on multiple levels.

Since leaving the European Union, Britain’s relations with Morocco have seen significant development at all levels, particularly economically and commercially; trade exchanges between the two countries have reached record numbers, supported by the desire of both countries to develop their partnerships to include various vital sectors and fields, such as the energy sector.

A few months ago, the British government appointed a trade envoy to Morocco, coinciding with the trade exchange volume between the two countries exceeding four billion dollars at the end of the first half of this year.

Britain had previously taken a positive stance on the Moroccan Sahara issue, when the London Court of Appeal rejected in May 2022 an appeal filed by NGOs supporting the Polisario to annul the partnership agreement concluded between Morocco and Britain on December 30, 2020.

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