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Western Sahara : The Moroccan initiatives made since John Bolton took office

Last year, Morocco reacted quickly to the comeback of John Bolton, named by Donald Trump as the 27th National Security Advisor of the United States. Since the former diplomat took office, the Kingdom made significant moves against Iran, supported Venezuela and repatriated nationals detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

US President Donald Trump and US National Security Advisor John Bolton./Ph. DR
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On March the 22nd, 2018, Donald Trump announced on his official Twitter account that he chose former diplomat John Bolton to be the 27th National Security Advisor of the United States, replacing Herbert Raymond McMaster. Morocco was forced to adapt to this change, knowing that Bolton served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 as an appointee by former President George W. Bush.

And for a good reason, the new US Security Advisor has soon become a thorn in Morocco’s flesh. With Bolton in office, the Security Council extended the MINURSO’s mandate on April 29th to only six months. The United Nations broke up with the tradition that it kept for more than seven years, extending in an almost automatic way the peacekeeping mission’s mandate to one year.

Morocco and France were surprised by the Trump Administration’s decision, but they couldn’t do anything. And it was up to the Kingdom to draw the necessary conclusions from this «failure».

The Moroccan initiatives made during the first year of Bolton

Twenty-four hours after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2414, Rabat cut diplomatic ties with Tehran, accusing the country of providing support, through Lebanese party Hezbollah, to the Polisario Front. The move was even commended by the United States. In Washington, Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, thanked Rabat for its «its resolute efforts to counter Iran’s malign influence in the region».

Other initiatives took place, as John Bolton spoke openly on the Western Sahara issue, on December the 13th, at the Heritage Foundation thinktank in Washington. Speaking to reporters, John Bolton said that he was «frustrated» that the conflict has not been resolved. «I’d like to see this resolved if the parties can agree on the way forward. That’s the preference», he announced.

When it comes to the Iranian file, Morocco was among the first countries to respond to the Trump administration’s invitation to the anti-Iran conference in Warsaw, Poland. The Kingdom was represented, during the meeting, by the Minister delegate for African Affairs Mohcine Jazouli.

On January the 10th, Bolton said on his Twitter account that «The US will not recognize the Maduro dictatorship’s illegitimate inauguration». «We will continue to increase pressure on the corrupt regime, support the democratic National Assembly, and call for democracy and freedom in Venezuela», he added. Morocco, again, quickly seized the opportunity to announce that it supports Venezuela’s self-declared president Juan Guaido.

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