US Spending Bill Includes Western Sahara in Financial Aid Committed to

New York – Once again the US Omnibus Spending Bill lends tacit support to Morocco’s position on the so-called Western Sahara conflict.In their legislative report, the two chambers of the US congress, reiterated their tacit bipartisan support for US policy with respect to a negotiated solution to the Sahara issue, based on the autonomy plan under Moroccan sovereignty.The report states specifically, in fact, that funds for aid to Morocco are also to be “made available” to Morocco’s southern provinces in the Sahara. Page 1326 addressing aid to Morocco says that “Funds appropriated under title III of this Act shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara provided that, not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act and prior to the obligation of such funds the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the proposed uses of such funds.”Us Confidence in Morocco’s management of the regionFor Mustapha Salma Oueld Sidi Mouloud, former member of the Polisario and former head of the police department in the Tindouf camps who was banned from the Tindouf camps for supporting Morocco’s autonomy plan for the Sahara, the US bill reflects the confidence of the US Administration and American lawmakers in the policies Morocco is implementing in order to foster development in the territory.“After much ado raised in the past, the US Congress stresses the need for US financial aid to include the region of the disputed ‘Western Sahara.’ This is a testimony to the US’s confidence in Morocco’s sound management of the regions,” the former Polisario member told Morocco World News.“It is a responsible attitude from US lawmakers not to link development with a political settlement to the dispute, unlike European counterparts who want to trap the majority of the Sahrawis and impose a blockade on the resources of their region, rather than help them to support development as a key to human rights and towards a political settlement,” he added.Oueld Sidi Mouloud has been living in exile in Mauritania and deprived from reuniting with his family since August 2010 when he said that the Moroccan autonomy plan could pave the way towards finding a mutually acceptable political solution to the territorial dispute.A decision of “common sense”The same opinion is shared by Mhammed Grine, a high ranking member of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), and a human rights advocate.“The fact that the US president approves the 2016 budget in which US aid to Morocco includes the provinces of the Sahara is a decision of common sense, for at least three reasons,” the former political prisoner told Morocco World News.“The first reason is that the exclusion of our southern provinces from this aid would mainly harm the population of those regions, which would be a sort of “collective punishment” that it is neither appropriate nor fair,” the founding member of the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights said.“The second reason is that Morocco has launched a gigantic economic and social development program for these regions. Therefore, it is appropriate and useful that American aid and that of other friendly countries come to strengthen this colossal effort,” he added.The third reason is that the separatist utopia is deadlocked and the Moroccan autonomy initiative constitutes a serious and credible basis for a political solution to this conflict that has lasted four decades. It is the duty of the great powers, such the United States to contribute to the realization of such a solution,” he concluded.US Tacit support for the Moroccan autonomy plan Aside from April 2013 when the US Ambassador to the UN presented a draft resolution calling for extending the mandate of MINURSO to include the monitoring of human rights in the territory, the US Administration has shown tacit support for the Moroccan autonomy plan presented to Security Council in 2007.In the joint statement which sanctioned the summit meeting between King Mohammed VI and President Obama at the White House on November 23, 2013, the two leaders reaffirmed their “shared commitment to improving the conditions and lives of the Sahara people.”A few hours before the summit meeting, the White House had praised the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara.“Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic and credible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.“It represents a potential approach that can satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity.”Throughout the last decades, Morocco has invested billions of dollars in socio-economic development of the Sahara. The North African country launched the advanced regionalization project to grant more powers to local and regional institutions in the entire national territory, including in the Sahara.In his speech to the nation on the 40th anniversary of the Green March, King Mohammed VI announced a series of new development projects aimed at strengthening progress in the southern provinces to develop this part of the Kingdom as a hub for trade and investment in Africa, including through consolidated road and air transport to serve the various African destinations.The Monarch also announced the construction of a railway line linking Tangier to the rest of Africa and the forthcoming establishment of an economic development fund that aims to consolidate the economic fabric, supporting enterprises, and social economy and to provide jobs and a stable income, especially for young people. read more

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