Corbyn speaks at Westminster Western Sahara discussion

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Jeremy Corbyn spoke at an event held in Westminster last night, discussing the ongoing situation in Western Sahara.

The Labour leader was joined by Nobel peace prize nominee and Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar, as well as the director of Independent Diplomat Carne Ross.

Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since the 1970s, while the indigenous population continue to struggle for the right to self determination. 165,000 Sahrawis are currently living in refugee camps, in fear of violence in their homeland.

Mr Corbyn said: “The issue of the Western Sahara is something that I have been involved in for a very long time.

“If a peaceful diplomatic solution is not found with respect to the right of the Sahrawi people to decide their own future, then quite clearly the pressure on people in refugee camps in the area becomes much deeper.” 

The Sahrawi government, known as the Polisario Front, depend on the international community to put pressure on Morocco over the territorial dispute. 

Polisario have representatives in every EU capital, the United States, Australia, and Russia, while the majority of the world’s countries have ceased purchasing Moroccan phosphates extracted within the disputed region.

Mr Ross said; “For once I actually feel quite energised about what’s going on, normally I would feel complete despair at the utter lassitude of the international community when it comes to Western Sahara, this year is a little bit different.” 

Mr Ross’s optimism has been buoyed by John R Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration.

As US ambassador to the UN, Bolton was a key player in Sahrawi-Morocco negotiations, and visited Polisario camps in Algeria.

Having somebody at the White House with some knowledge of Western Sahara is seen as a step toward a resolution of a conflict which has been in a seemingly perpetual stalemate.

The exact nature of this resolution remains to be seen; Mr Bolton added; “Equally possible is that some highly unsatisfactory resolution will be cooked up between the UN and the Americans and then rammed down the throats of the parties, and what usually happens in such processes is its always the most vulnerable and weaker party expected to make all the concessions.”

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