As Christopher Ross, the UN mediator in the Western Sahara conflict, was starting on Wednesday a visit to France, part of a tour in the countries concerned by the issue, Paris reiterated its unchanged standpoint supporting the autonomy plan.
The spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs was crystal clear: France “supports the Moroccan autonomy plan presented in 2007 and considers that it is the serious and credible basis for a negotiated solution,” he said. In doing so, Paris “supports the search for a just, lasting and mutually agreed upon solution, under the auspices of the United Nations and in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council,” the spokesman said.
Therefore, Christopher Ross knows what to expect. If France, regardless whether it is ruled by a rightist or a leftist government, sticks to its stance in favor of the autonomy plan for the Western Sahara it is because she has enough reasons to do so. One of these reasons, and not the least, is that France, as a former colonial power, was, with Spain, the main protagonist in drawing the borders of the whole region: Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, etc. And as such, Paris knows the inside story of this issue.
The French know perfectly well that the independence of Western Sahara is primarily an Algerian claim. And obviously, Algiers’ unilateral initiative to establish on paper, through the Polisario, a Sahrawi Republic, is nothing other than the avatar of the old regional rivalry between Algeria and Morocco that dates back to the era of the Cold War.
For his part, Christopher Ross realizes that in a region threatened by extremist groups and separatist movements, the status quo is becoming increasingly dangerous. He is also fully aware that it is crucial to support stabilization forces against destabilization forces.