WASHINGTON – APS-.dz.- Morocco is desperately seeking to “whitewash” its occupation of Western Sahara by developing new energy projects in the occupied territories and making Europe “complicit” in its illegal activities, according to an article published on Sunday in a US magazine.
The coordinator of the campaign “Western Sahara is not for sale/WSNS”, Mahfoud Bechri, quoted in the article “Marocgate: Corruption and bloody renewables in Western Sahara” published in Forbes magazine, claimed that “the Moroccan monarchy is trying to whitewash its occupation”, and by involving foreign companies in its new projects, most of which are located outside Morocco, in the occupied Saharawi territories, Rabat “makes Europe complicit and this creates a sense of +normality+ in the occupation”.
These companies “are aware of the illegality of what they are doing”, Bechri affirmed, recalling that “there is a peace process and a conflict that above all must be resolved”.
“These companies have never asked for the consent of the Saharawi people, which is a necessary legal step. This has been confirmed on several occasions by rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)”, he said.
In his article, journalist Elías Ferrer Breda also discussed the corruption scandal that engulfed the European Parliament almost a year ago. He explained how and why Moroccan lobbyists bribed the European institution.
In particular, he cited Abderrahim Atmoun, the Moroccan ambassador to Poland, who is accused of financing political campaigns and giving lavish gifts to MEPs such as Pier Antonio Panzeri, Eva Kaili and others.
For the author, “there are many reasons why the Moroccan government would have been so aggressive in its lobbying activities in Europe, to the point of engaging in illegal activities, including bribery”. According to him, one of the key issues was “to legitimise its illegal occupation of Western Sahara”.
However, due to Western Sahara’s status as a Non-Self-Governing Territory in the process of decolonisation, according to the United Nations, “the European Union (EU) has declared that it will not import energy from this territory, which is distinct from Morocco according to international law”.
Breda also tried to answer the question: “Why is the Moroccan monarchy so desperate to turn Western Sahara into a ‘profitable business’? The main reason, according to him, is “to acquire ‘legitimacy’ while compensating for the high costs of colonisation and, above all, the huge military investment”.
As part of its green energy production plan, it is to “deploy a large settler population around the occupied territories, which would represent 200,000 salaried workers”, the author revealed.
In terms of its military investment, the Moroccan army built a long sand wall in the 1980s, with a strong presence of personnel and surveillance technology. Analysts estimate that this illegal structure costs about $2 million per day to maintain. In addition, it is surrounded by millions of landmines.
The Moroccan occupying forces have also been deployed extensively throughout the territory to repress the occupied Saharawi population. Several NGOs and the UN have expressed concern about systematic human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.