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Middle East Press On UAE-Israel Relations, France And Iran: New Age Islam's Selection, 30 November 2020


By New Age Islam Edit Desk

30 November 2020

•  France Must Reconnect With Its Citizens Of Arab Origin

By Faisal J. Abbas

• Business Education As A Pillar For UAE-Israel Relations

By Prof. Moshe Zviran

• My Pakistan

By Mehr Tarar

• Biden Should Look To Lebanon If He Wants A Deal With Iran

By Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib

• Thou Shalt Not Assassinate

By Hanki Ocal

•  Moroccan Sahara: The History, The Law And The Facts

By Camelia Belmokhtar

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France Must Reconnect With Its Citizens Of Arab Origin

By Faisal J. Abbas

November 30, 2020


More than ever, France is at the heart of the discussion. Regardless of its colossal internal challenges, ranging from a weakening economy amid the pandemic to the necessity of achieving the much-contested reforms needed to put the state’s finances back on track, President Emmanuel Macron has undertaken a 180-degree shift in priorities that very sadly lifted France to the top of the news headlines during the past two months.

Amid the trials taking place in Paris for the 2015 terrorist attacks came three major attacks that shook not only France but the whole international public opinion. The non-orchestrated attacks that happened within less than 35 days of each other had in common the re-publication of the offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed by the very controversial satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and the Nice attacks share the same horrifying style.

Beyond the normal scenes of solidarity a nation witnesses in the aftermath of humanly shocking events, the fall of 2020, which has seriously wounded France, will also be remembered as a time when the very old and constantly adjourned debate on minorities and integration re-emerged in a very passionate and polarized social and political context.

Since its launch in July 2020, Arab News en Français has been part of the broader Arab News journey of pushing the boundaries of journalism and creating better understanding. At Arab News, we are nurturing this culture of walking the extra mile to get closer to our audience by providing our readers with better insights and more credible research.

Our initiative of tackling the issue of integration by conducting a survey on the perceptions that French citizens of Arab origin have of their life in France was launched a few weeks before the last wave of attacks.

The unfolding of the events and their consequences were simply a confirmation that we are not only looking in the right direction, but also pointing to the real problems. Backed up with real data, we hope to contribute to rationalizing what appears to become a highly emotional debate on minorities, religion and integration.

The results of the survey conducted for Arab News en Français by YouGov clearly show that the majority of French people of Arab and Muslim descent broadly consider themselves as integrated. They describe themselves as French citizens who adhere to the values of the republic. The study, however, concludes that in terms of perception, there is a certain level of stigmatization within this community, which constitutes France’s largest minority.

This is exactly where the most important question comes into play: Is integration in France a systemic problem or a perception issue? No matter how many answers and opinions there are on this complicated question, the consequences of its constant pertinence are here to stay, at least until further notice.

Religion is a main factor, and it is not exclusive to Islam. According to our survey, Jews of Arab descent also believe their religion might be a social obstacle, while Christians of Arab descent do not share the same sentiment. Being decades old, the unresolved integration debate appears to have a different impact on different generations and results in an apparent generational gap, according to our study.

While we tend to think that young generations of French Arabs born in France are more integrated than their elders, our survey shows the contrary: Young generations have a strong desire to connect with their ancestral roots, while the older ones are more attached to the values of the French republic.

If this is to be used as an indicator, it surely points towards an endemic social exclusion problem that no French government has managed to resolve yet. It also leads us to believe that this generational gap comes with a communication gap between French institutions and a large part of the young French generations.

As long as the youth are not heard, they will not listen. In today’s widely open social media landscape, experience — from Daesh recruitment campaigns to the Nice decapitations — has proven that no establishment can afford the consequences of losing the attention of younger audiences. France, now is the time to reconnect.

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Faisal J. Abbas is the editor in chief of Arab News. Twitter: @FaisalJAbbas

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1770341

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Business Education As A Pillar For UAE-Israel Relations

By Prof. Moshe Zviran

November 29, 2020



The accord itself lists no less than fifteen "spheres of mutual interest", including finance, energy, and education.

The signing of the Abraham Accords this past September was a watershed in regional relations, marking a new beginning for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Israel. The agreement has opened up new opportunities for friendships, partnerships, and mutual exploration. Indeed, the accord itself lists no less than fifteen “spheres of mutual interest”, including finance, energy, and education. As dean of Tel Aviv University’s Coller School of Management, Israel’s leading business school, the sphere of education is of particular interest to me. Education, in general, is widely recognised for its ability to build bridges between peoples and cultures, and this is particularly true about business education.

Our economies share numerous things in common – a strong, skilled workforce, creative energy, an openness to ideas, excellent educational institutions and vibrant technological entrepreneurship, innovation and new venture creation. It is no wonder that Israel, a land-poor in natural resources but rich in human ones, has become a world leader in technological entrepreneurship. For the UAE, entrepreneurship is more recent, stemming from a strategic decision to diversify the economy beyond its traditional export sector of oil. Hence, if our past has kept our economies apart, the future unites them.

This future, however, depends on top-notch managerial education and experience. Israel appreciates this lesson all too well. Known as the “start-up nation”, Israel is a global leader for the number of startups per capita – with 2,000 startups founded in the past decade and another 3,000 small and medium-sized high-tech companies. Indeed, Israeli innovations include a long list of everyday products and services, such as the disk-on-key technology, ZIP compression, WAZE, and many more. Yet for all the hype over every startup that succeeds in breaking into the marketplace, roughly 95 per cent of startups fail. And the reasons, though always varied, usually come down to poor management. This is why business schools have such an important role in instilling rigorous managerial understanding and best practices in our students. Given our mutual interest in entrepreneurship, innovation and new venture creation, this is where I believe Israeli and Emirati institutions of higher learning should strive to act together.

When it comes to our own educational systems, we are already on firm ground. For Israel, higher education has always been one of the major pillars of society, with the first academic institutions founded already before Israel’s independence in 1948. The Coller School of Management, Israel’s first and largest business school, is home to some 3,500 students across various areas of specialisation, including management of technology and information, strategy and entrepreneurship, and business data analytics.

Mutual cooperation can take many forms, including joint research projects, joint academic seminars and conferences, joint executive education programmes and more. Faculty and student exchange programmes would be a natural start. A specialised type of student exchange can take place around the creation of a joint incubator that will straddle both ecosystems. Under such a programme, a select number of students from both countries could meet together for a month-long programme – two weeks in one place, and two weeks in another, jointly developing their ideas from concept to the initial stages of execution. The cross-cultural experience, both at the level of the student body and at the level of the wider ecosystem in both nations, could offer considerable added value to the participants.

Another venue for cooperation can be a joint internship programme, where Emirati students as well as fresh graduates can gain professional experience in Israeli companies, and Israeli students do the same in the UAE. Internships are hugely beneficial for students seeking to gain practical work experience and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired to real-life business situations. By providing our students to do on a cross-national basis, our business schools will contribute to opening doors to each other’s graduates in our respective countries and fostering closer ties between our economies.

Clearly, Israel and the UAE are poised to do great things together, and business schools have a responsibility and an opportunity to contribute to making this future as bright as it can be. We can and must serve as the bridges for our younger populations, providing all the opportunities that both of our thriving ecosystems have to offer. The sky is the limit for what we can do, and there is no reason why we should wait.

Although the global Covid-19 pandemic currently places some restrictions on our ability to travel, our schools can begin exploring joint activities online, starting today at the click of a button. My finger is already on the keyboard.

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Prof. Moshe Zviran is Dean of the Coller School of Management and Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/business-education-as-a-pillar-for-uae-israel-relations

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My Pakistan

By Mehr Tarar

November 29, 2020

Kaavan is free. Kaavan is “the world's loneliest elephant.” Kaavan will soon be in his forever home in Cambodia. Kaavan after the death of his partner Saheli in 2012 has been alone. It was said that he was heartbroken after her passing. Years of campaigning of activists from Pakistan and other countries, Hollywood legend Cher, co-founder of Free the Wild, and UK’s global animal welfare organisation Four Paws, after thirty-five years of captivity in Marghazar Zoo of Islamabad, Kaavan will travel to a life without chains and bars of a cage and companionship of other elephants and love and warmth of humans who think of him as a beautiful creature with feelings and responses.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s Office tweeted: “US celebrity singer @cher called on Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI at Islamabad today. Appreciating her efforts in retiring #Kaavan to an elephant sanctuary, the Prime Minister thanked Cher for her campaign and role in this regard.”

Cher, the global icon with a single name, tweeted: “Just Came From Meeting To Thank Prime Minister Imran Khan For Making It Possible For Me To Take Kaavan To Cambodia. Kaavan Will Be Able To Leave For Cambodia On The 29. Think Documentary Will Be Heartwarming.”

This is one of the images of Pakistan that makes me happy to call it my home. Where the pain of an animal in captivity is recognised and action is taken. It may have taken years, but I am overjoyed it has happened. The photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan with Cher in Islamabad on November 27 is not just another routine image from the prime minister’s daily itinerary. To me it is a reflection of a Pakistan that pauses, thinks, plans, and takes action when someone, human or animal, is in pain. The efforts were laborious, the wait was long, but it happened. Many people cared. Cher cared. Four Paws cared. Khan cared. Today, Kaavan is free in Pakistan. That is the Pakistan I am proud of. My big, warm, adorable, flawed, wobbly, unwieldy, always learning homeland. The Pakistan I hold in a tight embrace in my heart.

The second wave of coronavirus is unleashing its deadliness infecting thousands of people across Pakistan every day, the daily number of fatalities is high and horrific. The united opposition PDM is determined to hold their prescheduled rallies without giving too much thought to the horror of mass infections. Inflation is still high. Unemployment is a huge issue. Much needs to be done in many sectors of public and individual wellbeing.

I read the news, I hear the spokespersons of the government talk on TV about various initiatives and strengthening of old ones. I go thorough tweets of Khan’s provincial and federal ministers and special advisers. The optimist in me sifts through the blah to focus on the real, the substantial. Despite halts and uncertainties, despite setbacks and constant criticism of media folks and opposition leaders, despite U-turns and changed courses, one thing is as clear as Kaavan without chains: the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan stands firm in its mission of doing its best for each and every citizen of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Khan’s strategy of smart lockdowns during the early months of the outbreak of coronavirus in Pakistan received harsh criticism from the opposition political parties and most of the mainstream media in Pakistan. It also received much praise from various international bodies. On November 25, Prime Minister’s Office tweeted: “World Economic Forum to hold Country Strategy Dialogue on Pakistan today. PM @ImranKhanPTI will virtually participate in @wef Country Strategy Dialogue on Pakistan.”

On November 25, President of the World Economic Forum Børge Brende tweeted: “Pakistan PM @ImranKhanPTI spoke with Global CEOs on Strategic Priorities in Post-Pandemic Era. Pakistan’s economy has shown resilience to the pandemic, placing it in a strong position to rebound quickly from the shock.”

On November 26, Brende tweeted: “A very warm and constructive dialogue with @ImranKhanPTI on the future of #Pakistan.”

Not everything is fixed but much is exhibiting great signs of favourable, constructive change. Actions replace words. Tangible actions push glossy rhetoric to the side. Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar tweeted on November 19: “382 million $ current account surplus in Oct. This is the 4th month of current account surplus. Cumulative surplus Jul to Oct is $1.2 billion. We inherited the biggest current account deficit in history with monthly current account deficit of $2 billion when govt was formed!”

Pakistan at the end of 2020 is not just Cher’s visit and Kaavan’s freedom, it is many other things. My point of view is irrelevant here, it is of no real consequence how high my validation of Khan’s government is on any given day. The paranoid part of me dreads the unseen, the sceptic in me questions every loud proclamation of a new initiative, the cynical part of my brain wonders if the old promises will be kept. But then I read and hear and see what is happening. And I smile. I utter a silent thank you. Pakistan is moving forward, one positive step, one wonderful thing, one bright indicator at a time. That will do. For now.

https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/my-pakistan-1.1606625098327

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Biden Should Look To Lebanon If He Wants A Deal With Iran

By Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib

November 29, 2020

Iran’s chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Tehran on Friday. Fingers are subsequently being pointed at Israel. The US allies in the region are quite worried about a potential Joe Biden overture toward Iran. For many in the region, the main concern is not Iran’s nuclear portfolio as much as it is the malignant activities of Tehran’s proxies, added to its ballistic missile capabilities.

Fakhrizadeh’s assassination shows that America’s allies are preparing for a potential US detente with Iran. The rapprochement that was witnessed during the Obama era does not inspire any optimism. The nuclear deal that was supposed to convince Iran to give up its ideology and focus on prosperity and growth had the reverse effect. In order not to lose face and appear to have bowed to the US in return for some economic perks, the Iranians compensated for its compromise on the nuclear front with an increase in proxy activities, causing havoc in the region. This increase in Iranian activity provoked a reaction on the other side, as the Arab Gulf states felt led down by their American partner and decided to take their security into their own hands. The result was an increase in turbulence and tensions in the region.

Today, as President-elect Joe Biden plans to return to the negotiating table with Iran, which is one of his campaign promises, he faces a dilemma. He wants to go back to the 2015 nuclear treaty but he does not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. He has also promised to work with allies and adopt a multilateral approach. How can he convince Iran to accept a deal that will include its ballistic missile program and its proxies? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s previous 12-point requirement for the lifting of sanctions was met with a flat refusal from the Iranian part. Biden has to modify the nuclear deal, but he also has to introduce conditions that are realistic.

He cannot adopt one of Pompeo’s conditions, which was for Iran to cut all its connections and financing of its proxies in the region. This is because, since its inception, the Iranian regime has positioned itself as the protector of Shiite communities across the Muslim world. It has been nurturing them ideologically, militarily and economically for decades. It will not give up on them just to have the US sanctions lifted.

In addition to the emotional attachment between Iran and its proxies, Tehran sees them as a deterrent. Iran views itself as being in a hostile environment. Soon after its inception in 1979, the regime’s neighbors financed Saddam Hussein to launch a war against it to contain the export of the Khomeinist revolution. Added to that, embargoes meant Iran was not allowed to modernize its arsenal. Therefore, the regime sees its proxies as elements that can create a balance of power or even a balance of terror between Iran and its neighbors.

Since politics is the art of the possible, rather than asking Iran to cut its connections with its proxies, it would be more realistic to ask it to pacify them. In this respect, Hezbollah offers a good example. The group is suffering from Israeli strikes in Syria, while there is talk of a possible overture toward its backer Bashar Assad on Israel. Hence, the Syrian regime’s support for the group seems shaky. Meanwhile, at home in Lebanon, US sanctions are starting to exhaust the group. Hezbollah is also facing popular wrath, as it is seen as being part of the corrupt political class that has led the country down the drain.

In this scenario, Hezbollah might be able to compromise if it is offered guarantees that will secure its survival, while giving it a graceful exit. So the Biden administration has a chance to score a win in Lebanon by striking a deal with Hezbollah and Iran. The US can give Hezbollah guarantees that Israel will not strike its facilities or target its personnel. Israel could also commit to defining its borders with Lebanon and withdrawing from the Shebaa Farms. In return, Hezbollah could put its arsenal under the supervision of the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese state could, in turn, sign a non-aggression pact with Israel that would not include a normalization of relations but would release the two countries from mutual aggression. This would be an easy win for the Biden administration. It would stabilize Lebanon and could pave the way for a larger deal with Iran.

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Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib is a specialist in US-Arab relations with a focus on lobbying. She is co-founder of the Research Center for Cooperation and Peace Building, a Lebanese NGO focused on Track II. She is also an affiliate scholar with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1770186

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Thou Shalt Not Assassinate

By Hanki Ocal

November 30, 2020

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333 on Dec. 4, 1981, for one and only one purpose: to stop the U.S.' assassination practice of foreign individuals. Before that executive order, U.S. intelligence agencies and other federal authorities could kill foreign leaders and their family members as they deemed fit.

Moreover, as if it were an honorable thing to do, the CIA had published a report on those assassinations, and it was available online until the recent murder of the Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3, 2020.

For some reason, when you click on the link to that report, the U.S. congressional website reports that "a potential security risk was detected in your submitted request. The Webmaster has been alerted."

You cannot get the list of those foreign leaders and other operatives killed by the U.S. agencies anymore from official sources but the internet still has many sites providing the list and the methods employed in those killings.

Wikileaks had published leaked documents about those methods ranging from lacing teapots with hard-to-detect chemicals to hacking into car control systems.

But thanks to incumbent President Donald Trump's keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with business situations which usually lead him to a good outcome – except the last elections – the U.S. seems to have resumed the assassination practice.

This time it employs much more direct methods than those that involved teapots, poisonous material and staging car accidents.

In fact, Trump ordered the U.S. Army to send armed drones to blow up the target's car on a highway. That was how Soleimani was killed.

Last week, Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Tehran when gunmen ambushed his car. His car exploded and the gunmen also shot dead three of Fakhrizadeh's bodyguards and several family members traveling with him. He was taken to a hospital where he later died. (There are unconfirmed reports that one of the attackers was killed by a bodyguard.)

Reagan had stopped a dishonorable and cowardly tradition of the U.S. security and intelligence agencies. Executive Order 12333 had made all agencies cooperate fully with the CIA so that U.S intelligence activities would be conducted with available information. The order clearly and directly prohibited U.S. agencies from sponsoring or carrying out an assassination.

“No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination,” it said.

Previously, former U.S. President Gerald Ford had banned political assassinations and another former President Jimmy Carter had further banned indirect U.S. involvement in assassinations, but events proved that the U.S. agencies would commission Latin American armies and police to do the dirty jobs. Reagan's ban was therefore more comprehensive: not only pulling the trigger but asking others to pull it was also banned.

According to the Times of Israel, the U.S. determined in 2007 that Fakhrizadeh's job as a university professor was a cover for his role spearheading Tehran's nuclear weapons development.

Following the deal with the Barack Obama administration, Iranian officials had stopped their nuclear arms program. But the Israeli and U.S. officials believed Fakhrizadeh had kept the program alive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a 2018 video clip, available on YouTube, argued that Fakhrizadeh was running an organization within Iran's defense ministry known as S.P.N.D., and was working on a what he calls "Project Amad."

The New York Times reported that not one but three other U.S. intelligence officials had said Israel was behind the attack on the scientist. Further, the newspaper claimed that the U.S. agencies may have known about the operation in advance since the two nations are "the closest of allies and have long shared intelligence regarding Iran."

This is an age of proxies: Russian mercenaries fighting in Libya; the U.S. is using PKK terrorists to fight against Iranian proxies in Syria; France is benefiting from the services of Armenian militias in Nagorno Karabakh, and Germany is using Greek admirals on its ships to stop Turkish commercial vessels.

Under the terms of Executive Order 12333, Trump can say "I didn't do it. Netanyahu did!" and he can get away with the murder because nobody is going to able to prove that he was "conspiring to engage in assassination."

https://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/columns/thou-shalt-not-assassinate

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Moroccan Sahara: The History, The Law And The Facts

By Camelia Belmokhtar

NOV 30, 2020

In the framework of the right to answer, I am pleased to bring the following clarifications and amendments to the opinion piece titled “Western Sahara and the pretext of the Arab Maghreb Union,” published on Nov. 25, 2020, in Daily Sabah.

I wish to begin by emphasizing that the present piece of opinion is not just the expression of my point of view on the conflict in the Moroccan Sahara. But it is also backed with facts in full conformity with international law, the U.N. Charter and the resolutions of both the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) and the U.N. Security Council (UNSC). I wrote this piece as a contribution to further enlighten the Turkish public opinion on the question of the Moroccan Sahara. To do so, I will be readdressing facts on the historical and field levels.

Firstly, taking note of how the Kingdom of Morocco cherishes political dialogue and peace, the Arab Maghreb Union was only one of the many expressions of the Moroccan constructive commitment to unity. The union was established in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, where the leaders of the five member states gathered in February 1989. Notwithstanding the current state of the union and the reasons behind it, I find it crucial to express my astonishment at how the article links success of the union to the Moroccan sovereign actions in the Sahara.

On the one hand, it is but obvious that, contrary to this shallow assumption, only Morocco’s actions, based on its right over all its territory, can ensure the stability and security in the region, both prerequisites for this regional gathering to accomplish the political and economic unity for which it was intended.

On the other hand, Morocco’s actions are not motivated by any hidden will to go along with any foreign agenda. In fact, the only foreign institution that the Kingdom of Morocco recognizes as competent in ruling over the matter is the United Nations, for its international and global mandate.

The article also brought to the table an unfounded assumption that “the Western Sahara has never been part of Morocco.” Whereas the International Court of Justice (ICJ) clearly stated on Oct. 16, 1975, that the Sahara region was not a “terra nullius” (meaning a no man's land) before its colonization by Spain. Indeed, it stressed the existence of allegiance ties between the sultan of Morocco and the Sahrawi tribes.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the Kingdom of Morocco experienced its own model of colonization and decolonization, in contrast to the other usual forms present during that period of time in Africa and also around the world. In fact, in 1912, the Kingdom of Morocco was split into several zones of colonization.

Four decades later the Kingdom of Morocco engaged a series of negotiated international agreements with the different colonial powers to start gradually recovering its territorial integrity:

• The center and north of Morocco in 1956;

• Tarfaya in 1958;

• Sidi Ifni 1969;

• Agreement of Madrid in 1975 that ended the colonial presence in the Sahara region after the ICJ statement on the ties of the Sahara with the Moroccan sultans.

With respect to the Moroccan Initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Status for the Sahara Region, it was proposed by Morocco after the three-year political deadlock due to fundamental disagreements between Morocco and the “polisario” (backed by regional countries), on both the 2001 plan (framework agreement) and the 2003 peace plan, by James Baker, the then-U.N. personal envoy to the Western Sahara.

Thus, this initiative came to light, under the wise leadership of his majesty, King Mohammed VI, and in response to the UNSC calls, on April 11, 2007. Based on compromise, it has since been supported and welcomed by many states and qualified as “serious and credible” by the UNSC, which definitely buried the referendum option. This recognition is not fortuity: The Moroccan initiative is one that guarantees to the populations of the region to run their affairs democratically through legislative, executive and legal bodies. It also ensures those populations are endowed with financial resources in order to contribute to the development of the region and of all Morocco, in all fields (economy, culture and social life).

This serious and credible initiative paved for several UNSC resolutions, the last of which was Resolution 2548 adopted by the UNSC on Oct. 30, 2020, that brought a triple message of clarity, firmness and consistency.

• Clarity in the definition of the real parties to this regional dispute, the identification of the finality and the course of the political process. Indeed, the resolution does not contain any reference to the referendum, while it refers six times to the political solution. Those who continue to refer to the referendum option are not in line with the U.N. resolutions, which embody both international legality and express the will of the international community;

• Firmness concerning respect for the cease-fire and the end of acts of provocation and destabilization;

• Consistency in the preservation of Morocco's achievements, in particular the Moroccan autonomy initiative as the basis of any political solution and the parameters of realism, pragmatism and compromise, which characterize this initiative.

Speaking of the UNSC resolutions on the matter, I find myself compelled to stress, under the recent events in El Guergarate international crossing, that since its Resolution 2414 of 2018, the UNSC asked the "polisario" to carry out an immediate withdrawal from the buffer zone of El Guergarat and to refrain from engaging in such destabilizing acts, which could jeopardize the political process.

However, since Oct. 21, 2020, the “polisario” demonstrated grave provocations, with heavily armed elements, by:

• Blocking El Guergarat international crossing border, holding civilians, including women and children, as hostages;

• Destroying the road linking Morocco to Mauritania;

• Openly calling for war and actions aiming at modifying the legal and historical status of the area located east and south of the Moroccan defense system.

These actions, fully documented by MINURSO, aimed at blocking El Guergarat crossing that has no military objective and is only open to civilian and commercial traffic. It is a vital crossing for the whole West African region.

Before such harm to the regional peace and security and after having observed maximal restraint toward these grave provocations and having been constantly alerting the UNSC and the U.N. Secretary-General through no fewer than seven official letters and daily demarches, Morocco found itself bound to fulfill its responsibilities by launching an operation that lasted about two hours, within the framework of its prerogatives and international legality.

It is of the utmost importance to note that the Moroccan operation was a nonoffensive military operation with no belligerent intent that has followed clear rules of engagement, prohibiting any contact with civilians and reserving the use of weapons to self-defense only. It aimed at securing the movement of persons and goods between Morocco and Mauritania, by setting up a safe corridor in the area. No casualties were recorded during this operation.

During a phone call with the U.N. secretary-general, on Nov. 16, 2020, his majesty, King Mohammed VI, asserted that Morocco remains firmly committed to the cease-fire, determined to react with the utmost severity and within the framework of legitimate defense, against any threat to security and the peace of its citizens and finally will continue to support the U.N. secretary-general's efforts within the framework of the political process.

The Moroccan operation at El Guergarat international crossing, which lasted a few hours with no casualties, scored a remarkable quorum in the international scene hailing the Moroccan efforts to reinstate security to this important international crossing (not only for Morocco, but also for many other African countries).

The Republic of Turkey, from its highest levels, expressed without reservation its full and entire commitment to, support of and alignment with Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara and its territorial integrity.

Finally, this opinion piece would not be complete if insight is not given on the undeniable development witnessed by the southern provinces, a milestone in the process of completing the territorial integrity of Morocco, especially during the two decades of the reign of his majesty, King Mohammed VI.

Indeed, and thanks to the impetus given by his majesty, King Mohammed VI, major development projects in the Moroccan Sahara demonstrate the climate of peace and stability prevailing in the region and its importance as a vital magnet for investment. Not intending exhaustivity, we shall cite the project of the port of Dakhla Atlantique to ensure maritime services to Casablanca, Tangier and Las Palmas, but also to Dakar and the ports of the Gulf of Guinea, the project of a 1,000-kilometer expressway between Tiznit and Dakhla and the project of the university hospital and medical school of Laayoune. Those are just a few examples of Morocco's commitment toward accelerated socioeconomic integration in our southern provinces.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan diplomatic machine has made the international dynamic of support for the “Marocanity” of the Sahara a top priority of its agenda across the globe. This support is a continuous success story with the erosion of recognition of the puppet "republic." Up to now, 164 countries around the world do not recognize the so-called "sadr."

Over the last months, this new dynamic has allowed the opening of consulates general by African and Arab countries – an act of those countries’ sole sovereign decision to express their confirmation of the irreversibility of Morocco’s sovereignty on this territory. Other countries from different parts of the world expressed their intention to open their consular missions in Laayoune and Dakhla, in the coming months.

The sovereign decisions by many countries to open consulates general in our southern provinces prove once more the vitality of the Moroccan Sahara, as an important regional economic hub and a strategic link with sub-Saharan Africa. It’s also a strong acknowledgement that the Kingdom of Morocco is a viable partner on the regional, continental and international levels.

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Camelia Belmokhtar Press-attache of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of Turkey

https://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/op-ed/moroccan-sahara-the-history-the-law-and-the-facts

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