Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wikileaks and the Western Sahara

As in various regions of the world, the Maghreb has not been immune to Wikileaks. The leaked cables provide some empirical insight into the politics of the region and the interplay of power between different states of the Maghreb. Over the next few blog posts, I will attempt to condense some of these leaks as they pertain to the Maghreb region. Today, I came across an interesting exchange during a February 2008 meeting between Tunisian President Zine al-'Abidine ben 'Ali and US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch about regional and bilateral relations in the Maghreb.


According to the leaked cable from March 2008, Ben 'Ali blamed Algeria for obstructing the resolution of the conflict in the Western Sahara. The Tunisian president also claimed that Algeria has to come to the full realization that there will never be an independent Sahrawi state in the Western Sahara. The conflict, according to Ben 'Ali, is complex and will not be resolved through the UN Security Council. Moreover, the cable also states that Ben 'Ali tried to summon a Maghrebi summit on the Western Sahara, which both Libya and Morocco agreed to, but was met with Algeria's rejection.

The following is the full quote from the leaked cable:
On the Western Sahara, Ben Ali said the Algerians are responsible for the ongoing impasse. Welch agreed, saying the issue was blocking progress in the region. He said the Algerians need to accept that there is not going to be an independent state in the Western Sahara. Ben Ali said the problem is complex, and will take years to resolve. He added it cannot be settled through the UN Security Council. He noted Tunisia had tried to convene a Maghreb meeting on it in Tunis. While Morocco and Libya had agreed to attend, Algeria refused, saying there was nothing to discuss.

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