Correo Diplomatico Saharaui
Inhofe and Leahy at the head of 25 colleagues to urge Biden to reverse Western Sahara's wrong decision
February 18, 2021
U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) And Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Today led 25 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter urging President Biden to reverse the earlier wrong decision to officially acknowledge the illegitimate claims of the Kingdom of Morocco of sovereignty over Western Sahara and renew the United States' commitment to seeking a referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara.
The senators wrote: “The previous administration's abrupt decision on December 11, 2020 to officially acknowledge the Kingdom of Morocco's illegitimate sovereignty claims over Western Sahara was shortsighted, undermined decades of consistent US policy, and alienated a number of Significant of African Nations. We respectfully urge you to reverse this wrong decision and re-engage the United States in seeking a referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara.
They continued: “The United States owes the Sahrawi people to honor our commitment, to help ensure that Moroccans comply with theirs, and to carry out this referendum. The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We look forward to having you as a partner in this effort. "
Senators who joined in sending this letter were: Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska ), Jack Reed (DR.I.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jeanne Shaheen (DN .H.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
The full text of this letter can be viewed here and below.
Dear President Biden:
The previous administration's abrupt decision on December 11, 2020 to officially acknowledge the Kingdom of Morocco's illegitimate sovereignty claims over Western Sahara was shortsighted, undermined decades of coherent American policy, and alienated a significant number of nations. African. We respectfully urge you to reverse this erroneous decision and re-engage the United States in pursuing a referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara.
The fate of the Sahrawi people has been in limbo since the United Nations first passed a resolution calling for a referendum on self-determination in 1966. For more than five decades after United Nations action, the simple and fundamental goal of the Sahrawi people to freely decide, for themselves, their destiny has been blocked and subjected to broken promise after broken promise.
The issue of Moroccan sovereignty claims over Western Sahara is not new. The International Court of Justice rejected such claims in 1975, clearly stating that the materials and information provided by Morocco "did not establish any link of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco." Despite the unequivocal judgment of the Court, Morocco maintained its illegal claim on Western Sahara and, after decolonization, attempted to annex the territory by force. The people of Western Sahara, acting through the Polisario, defended their rights and their land.
After more than a decade of violence, the United Nations finally intervened in 1991 and both sides agreed to a ceasefire and a way forward. Under the so-called "Settlement Plan", Morocco and Western Sahara agreed to hold a referendum and established the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, a mission that has been repeatedly extended and continues to this day.
Subsequent diplomatic efforts, including those led by former Secretary of State James Baker, worked on multiple plans with Morocco and Western Sahara, including, in particular, the so-called 'Houston Agreement', which re-engaged Morocco and Western Sahara. in 1997 to a referendum on self-determination. Morocco, recognizing that they would likely lose a vote, effectively withdrew from the negotiations the following year by declaring that they would never accept a referendum that included independence as a potential outcome, despite years of promises to the contrary. Tragically, Morocco's unwillingness to negotiate in good faith has been a constant theme over the years.
The situation in Western Sahara has been called a "frozen conflict", where there is no resolution, but no active conflict is perceived. This makes it easier for the rest of the world to forget about the plight of the Saharawi people. Calling this a "frozen conflict" makes it seem harmless, when the reality is that it is anything but.
Tens and tens of thousands of Sahrawis live in refugee camps, mainly in Tindoof, Algeria. They have been forced to leave their homes pending a resolution. Allowing this process to stop year after year has cost them a generation of freedom. Some of us have visited those camps many times, as recently as 2019, where we clearly saw their persistence and hope.
The United States owes the Sahrawi people to honor our commitment, to help ensure Moroccans live up to theirs, and to carry out this referendum. The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We look forward to having you as a partner in this endeavor.