Departing Diplomat Doubles Down, Defends Dominion Declaration over Disputed Desert Domain
Just over a week before the current administration leaves office and makes way for President-elect Joe Biden’s team, the United States on Sunday pushed forward with its controversial recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, opening a provisional consulate in the disputed territory a day after an unprecedented visit there by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker. The top diplomat insisted Washington would not set up a military base in the desert region and, during a stop in neighboring Algeria the day before, encouraged negotiations between the countries over the disputed land. President Donald Trump in November officially recognized Morocco’s hold over the divided territory, where Rabat has for decades battled the Algerian-backed pro-independence Polisario Front, making the US the first Western country to do so. In return, Morocco signed on to the Abraham Accords, joining the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in formalizing relations with Israel.
**Editor’s Note: Enjoy the premiere episode of The Media Line’s television program, Facing the Middle East With Felice Friedson. Now available.