On 10 December, former US President Donald Trump had recognised the Moroccanity of Western Sahara and the Joe Biden administration reiterated its commitment to this decision. But the Democrats are blocking the opening of the Sahara consulate and the sale of drones. On paper, nothing has changed from the promises made by the US to Morocco during Donald Trump’s last days in office.
The Democratic-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee has been blocking for several months two key initiatives contained in the agreement by which Morocco has suddenly seen its long-standing aspiration for recognition of its sovereignty over Western Sahara fulfilled: « the opening of a US consulate in the disputed territory, subordinate to Rabat, and the sale of MQ-9B armed drones to the Cherifian kingdom », as reported in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
Despite the general support on Capitol Hill for the Abraham Accords promoted by Donald Trump between Israel and various Arab countries, the transactional nature of many of these pacts, often accompanied by arms sales, has raised concerns among lawmakers from the outset. With the arrival of Joe Biden in the White House, this unease has translated into concrete actions in the case of Morocco to try to mitigate the consequences.
The opening of an American consulate in Dakhla would amount to the practical realisation of the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, and would put an end to the wishes of the Polisario Front to reach a negotiated solution within the framework of the United Nations. At the end of December, US ambassador David Fisher visited the port of Dakhla, 1440 kilometres south of Rabat, to inaugurate a virtual diplomatic office in the city and announce the building’s upcoming construction.
However, the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee doubts the need for such a consulate in such an inactive location and suspects that its only purpose would be to exist and confirm Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. The blockade means that « legally, the State Department cannot make financial or operational decisions to pursue the plan. The same goes for Trump’s promise to King Mohammed VI to sell him MQ-9B drones, a highly advanced and deadly technology that they say should not be provided to Morocco at this time, » the newspaper said.
The blockage of these initiatives in Congress had not been highlighted until now, but the truth is that they have been paralysed for almost five months without the State Department taking any steps to try to circumvent it or negotiate a compromise with members of Congress.