As the UN Security Council prepares once more to discuss the issue of the Western Sahara and to make a decision about the future of the UN's involvement in this issue, the Moroccan lobby is only too keen to use some old fashioned arguments to garner support for a regime that has been rather spoilt by Western democracies.
Some of the arguments used to support the Moroccan regime in its wrongdoings are that it is an old ally of the West, and is an essential player in the Middle East problem, leading to the conclusion that come what may, its stability must therefore be protected. These arguments are weak and misguided.
First, the significance given to Morocco's historical friendship with some Western countries amounts to emotional blackmail, and cannot be a factor influencing any decisions regarding the fate of another people. This is an argument that was used during the Cold War and has outlived its time.
It is well known that some Western countries had friendly relations with regimes such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the apartheid regime of South Africa and many others. On the other hand many former enemies have become friends and allies in the New World Order. When it comes to relations between states there are no lasting and constant friendships.
Second, the argument that Morocco is an essential player in the Middle East conflict is no longer valid. The experienced and shrewd King Hassan II is no longer available and the Palestinians and Israelis are talking directly to each other nowadays. Countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, alongside the active participation of the USA, now fill the role that Morocco used to play.
As far as Morocco's stability is concerned, this is a valid point; but stability cannot be maintained by sheer force and to the detriment of others.
We understand that a stable Morocco is paramount for peace and progress in the whole Maghreb region. But stability in Morocco can only be achieved if a just and lasting resolution to the conflict in the Western Sahara is accomplished.
The dangers to Morocco's stability stem from Morocco itself. The Moroccan regime has to find genuine solutions to problems such as: the Western Sahara, poverty, corruption, democracy, and respect for human rights.
The independence of the Western Sahara would be of great benefit and help to Morocco. Not only will Morocco be able to enjoy fruitful relations with an independent Saharawi republic but it will also be able to make use of about $3 Million US Dollars that are spent daily on the maintenance of the occupation of the Western Sahara for other productive projects.
Morocco will also be able to redirect the energy and attention that it is currently focusing on the Saharawi conflict for other issues of concern to the Moroccan people, like poverty, health and education.
The just solution of the Western Sahara conflict will certainly create an atmosphere of harmony, peace and cooperation amongst the countries of the region that will be of great benefit to all and accelerate the establishment of the Maghreb Union.
It is the duty of Morocco's friends to encourage the regime to find real solutions to the problems facing Morocco instead of adopting policies of window-dressing.
By choosing to side with the absolute and corrupt Monarchy in Morocco, some Western countries are alienating the majority of the people in Morocco and the Maghreb region. Such a policy is counter-productive and dangerous. The appeasement of dictatorships does not work.
It is only by respecting international law, human rights, and democratic norms, and by abandoning the bad old habits of aggression and occupation of foreign territories, that Morocco could be considered part of the civilised world and a real friend of the West. At present Morocco is just another rogue state.
It is vital that Western democracies avoid being taken in by the misleading arguments of Morocco's spin-doctors. When deciding at the end of this month on the issue of the Western Sahara, the Security Council members must take correct and fair decisions that are in accordance with the UN resolutions and that will contribute to a lasting peace and stability in the Maghreb region.
Sydney, 22 July 2002