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Western Sahara: US Deputy Secretary Joshua Harris Visits Morocco, Algeria for Consultations

US Deputy Assistant Secretary Joshua Harris is holding a series of consultations with Algeria and Morocco as part of an official trip to the two countries.

The US State Department for Near Eastern Affairs said that the official will begin a round of consultations with the two countries as part of the UN-led political process to find a mutually acceptable and an agreed upon political process for the Western Sahara dispute.

Harris’ visit is also part of US efforts to “advance regional peace” and intensify the political process to “achieve an enduring and dignified solution without further delay,” the State Department concluded.

By underscoring that the Sahara dispute primarily involves Algeria and Morocco as the main parties to the dispute, the tweet challenges Algeria’s year-long attempt to disassociate itself from its role in the conflict. Algeria has for decades shirked its responsibility in the Sahara question, claiming to be merely an observer in the territorial dispute.

The visit comes less than three months following Harris’ previous trip in September.

During the visit, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary reiterated his country’s position, reaffirming its support for Moroco’s Autonomy Plan as a serious , credible, and realistic political solution to end the dispute over Western Sahara.

Harris also affirmed his country’s full support for the UN Personal Envoy of the UNSG Staffan de Mistura “as he intensifies efforts to achieve an end to a dignified political solution for Western Sahara.”

The Deputy Assistant Secretary also expressed the US’ appreciation for Morocco’s efforts on various regional and global issues, including addressing instability in the Sahel and supporting Libyan election efforts.

The new trip comes as Algeria continues to reject its responsibility in the dispute over Western Sahara, despite its direct involvement in hosting, arming, financing, and supporting Polisario’s separatist claims in the region.

The rejection comes despite UN Security Council resolutions urging Algeria to engage with other parties to the dispute – Morocco, Mauritania, and Polisario – to contribute to the UN-led political process.

Resolution 2703 adopted by the UN Security Council in October renewed the same appeal, calling on Algeria along with other parties to the dispute to “cooperate more fully with each other, including through building additional trust, and with the United Nations, as well as to strengthen their involvement in the political process and to achieve progress towards a political solution.”

Harris’ visit also comes amid a controversy triggered by the visits of Elizabeth Aubin,  the US ambassador to Algeria, to the Tindouf camps.

Aubin’s visits caused ire among observers, who believe that the political significance of such visits should not be downplayed.

Some analysts viewed the visit as a signal of US’ attempt to use the Western Sahara dispute as a card to pressure Morocco for its principled position supporting the Palestinian cause.

Morocco has maintained its unwavering support for the Palestinian cause for years, and reflected the position frequently amid ongoing Israeli aggression in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Since October 7, Rabat has issued strong statements condemning Israeli aggression and calling for the international community to intervene to end the bloody war targeting civilians.

Source: Morocco World News