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The Case of the Forgotten Desert - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The upcoming days will see the international Security Council look at the Western Sahara issue once again, an issue that it seeks to solve through international committees and marathon meetings that have lasted for years. Meanwhile, the concerned Arab parties have not taken any real affirmative action!

The Western Sahara issue is poisoning the political atmosphere between two important countries of the Maghreb region, namely, Morocco and Algeria, and it is bad enough that the borders between these two countries have been closed for over fifteen years! Relations between these two countries have been suspended and political activity to resolve the problem is almost non-existent!

The regrettable thing is that there are positive factors that are not being utilized in a sincere effort to solve the situation, the most important of which is the presence of a young, dynamic Moroccan king who has the ability to deal with diplomatic efforts, and a respectable Algerian president who has strong international political experience that can also be used to solve the issue.

It is regrettable that the entire world is working to solve this silent and forgotten problem, while a state of paralysis and lack of trust prevails between Morocco and Algeria and this should not continue. A new Moroccan initiative has surfaced regarding the autonomy of the Western Sahara which has been presented to the Security Council and is worthy of careful scrutiny by the Algerians especially that in the document, Morocco reinforces its wish for dialogue regarding the relevant details, away from the complications of history. Algeria does not have to agree to the Moroccan proposal as it is, however, it would not be appropriate for Algeria to neglect the proposal and not look into it.

Is it permissible that development is put on hold and that tension dominates the relationship between the two important Arab countries because the Western Sahara issue has been left to be dealt with by international institutions while the two parties fail to make a bold decision to take part in direct dialogue that aims to end the conflict?

We have said before, and we shall underline it once again that the distance between Morocco and Algeria is much less than the distance between the two North African capitals and New York. There is a common language between Morocco and Algeria that is more accessible and closer than dialogue with others; immediate action is required because contrary to the saying, time is not a healer in this case and there is no alternative to the initiative and to courage to solve the problems despite of how complex they may be.