Diplomatic Incident – The Western Sahara conflict invites itself to Tunisia

An unprecedented diplomatic incident broke out between Morocco and Tunisia on the background of the organization on August 27 and 28, 2022 of the Tokyo International Conference on Development in Africa (TICAD 8). It is that, according to the protocol, Tunisia welcomed the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali. Morocco saw red and decided to recall its ambassador in Tunis.

The dispute spread like wildfire on the evening of Friday, August 26, when the images of the President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed and the leader of the Polisario began to circulate on social networks. For part of the Tunisian public, this is another misstep by the power in place. The Tunisian Facebook was overheated. Comments condemning the actions of the authorities came from all sides.

But on the side of Carthage, the services still had not communicated about Brahim Ghali’s arrival. The fact is that members of the Polisario Front were quick to relax by posting photos of the meeting on their official accounts from 18.20.

The Moroccans were just as quick as they followed SADR’s activities very closely. The Kingdom responded immediately, at around 7:45 p.m., via a press release criticizing a hostile attitude and harming relations between the two countries. Morocco has decided to recall its ambassador in Tunis.

Moroccan Foreign Affairs took a sharp tone:

“After recently multiplying negative attitudes and actions regarding the Kingdom of Morocco and its higher interests, Tunisia’s position within the framework of the TICAD process (Japan-Africa Cooperation Forum) confirms open hostility.

In fact, against Japan’s advice and in violation of the preparation process and established rules, Tunisia unilaterally decided to invite the separatist entity.

The welcome given by the Tunisian head of state to the leader of the separatist militia is a serious and unprecedented act that deeply hurts the feelings of the Moroccan people and their living forces.

Faced with this hostile and harmful attitude towards the fraternal relations that the two countries have always maintained, the Kingdom of Morocco has decided to: Not participate in the 8th TICAD Summit, which will be held in Tunisia on August 27 and 28; and to immediately recall His Majesty the King’s ambassador to Tunis for consultation”.

The diplomatic incident is recorded.

Meanwhile, the Presidency of the Republic only published the photos of the meeting at 22.30, without mentioning the quality of the personality that Kais Saïed welcomed. Unlike the other leaders who came to attend Ticad, the presidency was satisfied with a simple “the head of state welcomed Mr. Brahim Ghali at the presidential airport”. Abandon the title of leader of the Polisario Front or President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). The services of the presidency were probably embarrassed, as the state is not recognized by a large part of the international community. Except we will later see that the Foreign Office will use this name…

It was only around 01:30 that Tunisian diplomacy responded to the Moroccans by recalling the Tunisian ambassador in Rabat again. A statement in which Foreign Affairs denounces falsehoods and details SADR’s participation in the Tokyo conference:

Tunisia expresses its great astonishment at the statements made by the Kingdom of Morocco, in particular the unacceptable insult to the Republic of Tunisia and the falsehoods about the participation of the delegation of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic in Ticad. Tunisia has maintained its complete neutrality on the issue of Western Sahara while respecting international legitimacy. This is an unbreakable position that will not change until the parties involved find a peaceful and mutually acceptable solution.

Tunisia respects the resolutions of the United Nations and the African Union, of which the country happens to be one of the founders. In this context, it should be noted that, contrary to what was said in the Moroccan statement, the African Union, in its capacity as the main participant in Ticad, had published a memorandum calling on all its members, including the Sahrawi Arab Republic, to participate in Ticad. Secondly, the Chairperson of the African Commission also extended a direct invitation to the Saharawi Republic.

These two invitations come in application of the decisions of the Executive Council of the African Union during the meeting in Zambia on 14 and 15 July 2022 in the presence of the Moroccan delegation, where the need to invite all members of the African Union.

It should be noted that the Sahrawi Republic had previously participated in Ticad 6 held in Kenya in 2016 and Ticad 7 in Japan in 2019, as well as other events such as the Africa-Europe Summit held in February 2022 in Brussels. Morocco participated in all these meetings.

Given that Ticad is a multilateral regional conference, Tunisia has endeavored to ensure the best conditions for its success in close coordination with all the parties involved in the organization of this important event. Tunisia has ensured an equal welcome to all guests in accordance with the rules of propriety and hospitality inherent to the Tunisian people.

As much as Tunisia reaffirms its commitment to maintaining its friendly, fraternal and historical relations with the Moroccan people, it nevertheless categorically rejects the remarks in the Moroccan press release, which accuses our country of taking an aggressive stance towards Morocco and harming its interests.

If Tunisia also values ​​the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states and respect for their positions, based on the constants of its foreign policy, it reaffirms its rejection of interference in its internal affairs and insists on the country’s sovereignty. decisions.”

Also at dawn on Saturday, August 27, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic issued an offensive statement against Moroccans: “The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has withdrawn from Ticad and recalled its ambassador in Tunis… because the Tunisian head of state received his Saharawi counterpart on equal footing with all the leaders who are members of the African Union…

The slanderous Moroccan statement was formulated in an arrogant and contemptuous language towards Tunisia, which acted as the host country of the conference and which is to receive the member states of the African Union, in accordance with the decisions of the organization and the mechanisms that govern these occasions… There is no longer any justification for such practices, except that there are hidden objectives, including the implementation of subversive foreign agendas aimed at peace and stability in the region … “.

The SADR also recalled Morocco’s presence at Ticad 6 and Ticad 7 and at the Africa-Europe Summit in February 2022, stressing that the Kingdom had not, on the occasion of these events, published any statement of condemnation or recalled its ambassadors from the host countries. .

The incident will certainly be a milestone and will put Tunisia-Morocco relations into perspective in a tense regional geopolitical climate.

Ikhlas Latif

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