US recognizes Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara

Trump's erratic Africa policy ignores international law (Press Release)

On Thursday, after the US administration announced that it will recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara – which was occupied in a violation of international law – the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warned about possible new conflicts in Northwest Africa, emphasizing that the US president made this far-reaching decision without necessity, thus fueling the 45-year conflict over the decolonization of the former Spanish colony. The decision is part of an agreement between Israel and Morocco to normalize the relations.

"What is particularly bitter is that this decision, which will have serious consequences for Africa, actually has nothing to do with Africa policy. This is typical of Donald Trump, his disrespect towards Africa, and his ignorance of international law and the United Nations," stated Ulrich Delius, the STP's Director in Göttingen on Friday. Thus, the STP appealed to US President-elect Joe Biden to reverse the highly controversial decision and to strengthen international law. According to Delius, Africa will not forget Trump's rants against immigrants from African countries, which had caused a worldwide stir in January 2018. Further, Trump had systematically neglected the good relations between the US and Africa. He decided to withdraw diplomatic personnel from the continent and to cut aid and assistance programs. "Trump's relationship with Africa is a story of disrespect and ignorance – and this is one of the reasons why the United States are losing influence on the continent," Delius added.

Since Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara in 1976 – a clear violation of international law – the United Nations and the international community have been trying to resolve the conflict. The resource-rich territory had declared itself an independent state in 1976. Previously, the US government as well as the Federal Republic had considered Western Sahara as a region of unresolved status. "The clear US partisanship for Morocco will fuel the conflict between Morocco's army and the Polisario Liberation Front of the Sahrawis. This might compromise the ceasefire which has lasted since 1991," Delius warned. Trump's lone decision is also a serious setback for the United Nations' efforts to organize a referendum on the future of Western Sahara. Morocco is systematically blocking these efforts, which were most recently pushed forward by UN Special Envoy and former German President Horst Köhler.