Rabat concerned about the UK’s increasing work in favour of the Polisario Front in the Saharan conflict

In recent years Britain has become one of the countries within the European Union that is the most critical of Morocco, especially surrounding issues about Western Sahara.

At present, Morocco regards Britain as a relatively hostile country because of the policy that it maintains in favour of the Polisario Front regarding the Western Saharan conflict.

Recently, the UK’s decisions about the Saharan conflict are a concern to Morocco. In this context, the UK advocates self-determination in the Sahara as the solution and rejects the proposal for autonomy that Morocco is offering the Sahrawis.

Alongside Sweden, the UK has been more demanding of Morocco for the renewal of the fishing agreement they have had with the EU since 2013. Within the agreement, it has even managed to introduce measures to find out whether the Saharawi population benefits from the financial compensation awarded in this agreement or not.

The British Parliament has repeatedly addressed this conflict in 2014 and 2015, much more often than the Spanish Parliament, where the Polisario Front enjoys almost unconditional support. The secretary general of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is himself the chairman of the parliamentary committee to support Polisario Front. He even travelled to the Sahara in February 2014 to support the Saharawis, with Morocco later accusing him of inciting the rebellion of the Sahrawi population.

Five years ago, aware of the role and influence of Britain, King Mohamed VI appointed his cousin, Jumana, as the Moroccan Ambassador in London. However, Jumana wasn’t able to make the UK’s stance on this issue more flexible. There are even some in Morocco that are quite critical of the Ambassador’s work in the UK, with claims that greater effort was required to defend the country’s interests.

Currently, London has become a decisive capital for the Polisario, more relevant than Madrid, as it is in this city that activity against the exploitation of the Saharan resources by Morocco is coordinated. A crucial issue, especially after the European Union court, on the 10th of December of 2015, ordered the agricultural pact between the EU and Morocco annulled, saying it shouldn’t include products from the Sahara.

The Polisario Front is expecting the UK to counter France’s support of Morocco in the Sahara conflict at the UN Security Council.

All indications are that the UK will continue to support the Polisario Front, but efforts from Morocco to convince the UK to maintain a moderate position on the Sahara conflict will also continue.

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