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As Russia Grabs Ukraine, Biden Has Not Reversed Trump’s Foray into Africa’s Business
 
Mar 24 – Apr 06, 2022
 
map of western sahara



two european cities in Africa



When Joseph Biden stepped into office, he moved swiftly and made several Donald Trump-era reversals. The historic Biden-Harris team issued more than three dozen executive orders and memorandums on a wide range of progressive issues, from LGBTQ rights to climate change and immigration. However, there is one change the administration has not made:  Recognizing Western Sahara as a sovereign nation.

While the Biden Administration continues to focus on Russia’s denial of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Axios reports that American Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in a recent call that the Biden administration will continue to deny Western Sahara’s sovereignty and not reverse President Trump's recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over the Atlantic coast nation, at least for the time being.
Despite Biden’s pledge to return the US to normalcy, Stephen Zunes, a professor at the University of San Francisco specializing in Middle East politics, told Al Jazeera. “I think Biden’s getting a lot of pushback from the pro-Israel element not to reverse the decision.”
After years of international consensus, the twice impeached Trump recognized Morocco’s claim to the disputed territory once known as Spanish Sahara. In exchange for the recognition of the land claim, the Trump deal called for Morocco’s normalization of relationships with Israel. 

With the signed deal, Americans became the first Western power to explicitly recognize Morocco’s claim against the United Nations’ official designation of Western Sahara as a “Non-Self-Governing Territory.” The Trump deal also countered the African Union’s support for the self-determination of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) through a free and fair referendum as also decided by the United Nations Security Council.

Despite Biden’s pledge to return the US to normalcy, Stephen Zunes, a professor at the University of San Francisco specializing in Middle East politics, told Al Jazeera. “I think Biden’s getting a lot of pushback from the pro-Israel element not to reverse the decision.”

In the recent UN vote that condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, African nations split their votes. Morocco chose not to vote. The Moroccan ministry of foreign affairs said that Rabat’s decision "cannot be the subject of any interpretation regarding its principled position on the situation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine."

South Africa, which abstained from condemning Russia, was clearer on its position. Clayson Monyela, South Africa’s head of public diplomacy, accused the Western bloc of having double standards, saying it should also condemn other aggressors in the Palestinian territories, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Somalia, according to the BBC.
Zunes told Port Of Harlem that Spain’s motivation to appease Morocco may be that aside from being just 12 miles from Morocco by sea, it has two cities, Melilla and Ceuta, on the African continent, that share land borders with Morocco that the African nation could open and allow to become opened floodgates for African immigrants seeking to enter the European Union.
The Kingdom of Morocco began claiming Spanish Sahara (Western Sahara, now the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) when Spain withdrew from the territory in 1975. The Polisario Front, an armed group demanding independence for the region and its majority Sahrawi ethnic group, have been fighting over the land since Spain withdrew. The United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991, but proclaimed neither group sovereignty over the region.

Ironically, as Ukraine rejected Russian demands to surrender the port city of Mariupol in exchange for safe passage, The Polisario Front rejected Spain's new stance that supports Morocco's plan for autonomy in the Western Sahara. As per the plan, the Sahawaris would run their government under Moroccan sovereignty - - a position the Biden-Harris administration supports - - still in opposition to the United Nation Security Council and the African Union.

Zunes told Port Of Harlem that Spain’s motivation to appease Morocco may be that aside from being just 12 miles from Morocco by sea, it has two cities, Melilla and Ceuta, on the African continent, that share land borders with Morocco that the African nation could open and allow to become open floodgates for African immigrants seeking to enter the European Union.

Nevertheless, he says, Spain has not denied Western Sahara's sovereignty, as has the United States via the Trump deal with Morocco and Israel, and Biden’s continued non-reversal. “We (Americans) are really an outlier,” he says.



 
 
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