HRW report: USA and France support Morocco on Western Sahara

“On Human Rights, the US continued to publicly praise Morocco’s reform efforts and advances made by women,” and “France rarely publicly criticized Morocco’s human rights practices and openly supported its autonomy plan for Western Sahara” says the new Human Rights Watch report. The report also points to the fact that France and the USA both provide Morocco with financial aid to back up their support.

Both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council, have a long history of ties to Morocco, and both press for Western Sahara to remain under Moroccan autonomy, not for the referendum on the status on Western Sahara that international law demands. “Genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty [is] the only feasible solution,” stated a House of Representatives letter to President Barack Obama from April 2009. “I hope to see Morocco’s autonomy plan serve as the basis of negotiation in the search for a reasonable resolution. France will be at your side,” stated French president Sarchozy before Morocco’s parliament in 2007.

France has had ties with Morocco as far back as the sixteenth century, went to war with Morocco on several occasions in an attempt to colonize Morocco, and eventually succeeded in colonizing part of Morocco from 1912 to 1956 (Spain colonizing the other part). France still sees Morocco as being part of its sphere of influence, the two governments have good political relations, and France is Morocco’s main trade partner and investor.

Morocco was one of the USA’s closest allies in their fight against communism and is one of its main allies in its fight against terrorism. Morocco was the first country to recognize the independent United States, and the two nations also signed a treaty of friendship as long ago as in 1777 (renegotiated in 1836 and still in effect) that can be said to have laid the foundations of the two countries present good relationship. Amongst other things, this treaty states that “if either of the Parties shall be at War with any Nation whatever, the other Party shall not take a Commission from the Enemy nor fight under their Colors” and that “the Commerce with the United States shall be on the same footing as is the Commerce with Spain or as that with the most favored Nation.”

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