During its recent visit to the United States of America last September, the delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs held discussions at the White House with Elliott Abrams, President's Assistant Advisor at the National Security Council in charge of the Middle East and the strategy for inclusive democracy, and with Gordon Gray, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East in charge of Maghreb.
The delegation will take part in a round table at George Town University, and will meet with the American press and foreign press based in Washington. The delegation, which consists of about a dozen members of the Council including Secretary General and many of Vice-Presidents, will also be meeting with the Moroccan community residing in the Washington area around the breakfast table.
Council meets with members of "Morocco Caucus” Association at the US Congress
Senior US Congress members praised the autonomy plan in the southern provinces of the Kingdom, proposed by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, affirming that this proposal conforms with the concepts and principles of democracy internationally recognized and is distinct move to resolve the Sahara issue
The Meeting took place on Monday and brought together at the Congress a delegation of the Council members, members of the House of Representatives and “Moroccan Caucus” Association in where the democratic nature of this proposal was highlighted the at the Arab, African or Maghreb levels.
The Council delegation, which consists of about a dozen members held working meeting with members of Congress including. Lincoln Diaz – Balart, Fillipe English, Ileana Rose- Lehtinen, Darrell Issa, Ray Lahood, Thado McCotter, Robin Hayes, Melissa Harst, Jeff Fortenberi and Geoff Davis.
President of “Morocco Caucus” Association Mr. Diaz Lincoln, said that the meeting was held at a time when the Congress agenda is intensive; Congress members are preparing elections of next November, pointing out that, this shows the esteem enjoyed by Morocco in the U.S. For his part, Mr. Philip English described the Royal proposal as "outstanding contribution to resolving the issue of the Sahara."
In a statement to MAP agency Mrs. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida representative and member of the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee said that "the autonomy proposal complies with the principles that the United States is working to disseminate". Having praised the distinguished relations between Morocco and USA, which share the "defense of the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights," she added that "We will continue to work to help Morocco resolve the issue of the Sahara."
On the other hand, the Council delegation met with Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs, and held talks with MPs Jim Kulbel and Wade-Royce; they also met with members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
During these meetings, which was attended by Morocco's ambassador to the United States, Mr. Aziz Mekouar, the President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid said that autonomy formula corresponds fully with the standards of democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights and constitutes the best solution to this issue on the grounds that there would be no loser, in the sense that this solution preserves the sovereignty of Morocco and gives southern residents the possibility of running their own affairs.
He noted that "the Western Sahara conflict has not come with any positive thing for the residents of this region, the Maghreb, and the African continent," adding that this dispute has delayed the building of the Arab Maghreb Union and Africa and still constitutes a source of tension in the region.
He also warned of the risk of terrorist movements infiltration in the region, with the support of a dangerous mix consisting of movements outside the scope of the law, mediators of illegal immigration, smuggling of weapons. Having talked about the creation and the formation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Mr. Ould Errachid said that the United Nations had abandoned the option of a referendum and has clearly expressed its support for a political solution acceptable by the parties.
In this context, he expressed satisfaction with the autonomy proposal which is part of the comprehensive reforms adopted by Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, he said, adding that decentralization is an innovative option in the Arab world. Having expressed his conviction that the Sahrawi population in Tindouf camps will choose to return home once the autonomy proposal is activated, the President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs added that only negotiations, aiming to put an end to this conflict through the adoption of the autonomy proposal, which would come up with a solution to this conflict and achieve the dream of integration of the peoples of the region.
Corcas delegation meets with chairman of foreign oriented budget at US congress
Corcas delegation talked with Rep. Jim Kolbe Chairman of foreign-oriented budget in the House of Representatives, during the meeting, he was briefed about the functions and objectives of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs.
Mr. Jim Kolbe confirmed his support for free trade agreements signed with Tunisia, Morocco, saying that Morocco is a model of tolerance and modernity in the Arab world.
Concerning the role of the United States of America in resolving the existing problems in the Sahara, Mr. Khalihenna said that the US interest is centered in the promotion of democracy, pluralism, tolerance, freedom of exchange in the Arab world and requires support of Morocco as an Arab-African and Muslim country, which has historic ties with the United States of America.
Mr. Khalihenna added that self-government in the southern regions reflects the culture of tolerance followed by Morocco. On this occasion, he asked support from the US in order to make UN missions in the region enhance stability.
Representative of the state of Florida and member of Foreign Relations Committee in the Congress after meeting with corcas delegation
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: we will continue to help Morocco solve the Sahara conflict
Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told MAP news, on the sidelines of a visit by corcas delegation to Washington that "the autonomy proposal is in conformity with the principles of the United States".
Having commended the distinguished relations between Morocco and the United States of America, which share "defense of the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights," Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said "We will continue to work to help Morocco to resolve the Sahara issue ".
Council delegation holds talks with member of the Committee on International Relations at U.S. House of Representatives
At the headquarters of the U.S. Congress, a delegation from Corcas, met with Mr. Ed Royce, member of the International Relations Committee and former Chairman of the Commission for Africa. Khalihennna Ould Errachid briefed him about the functions and objectives of the Council, and at the same time stressed the need to find a solution to this conflict which has lasted long in this region of Africa and put an end to the suffering of the Saharan population.
Mr. President also stressed the urgency to meet the political, economic and social aspirations of the Sahara population through reconciliation and self-determination within Moroccan sovereignty.
Concerning the issue of human rights in the Southern Territories, Khalihenna Ould Errachid said that freedom of movement of some militants close to the separatists, such as Aminatou Haydara who declares her sympathy with the Polisario Front, a proof of the openness of Morocco politically.
Corcas holds discussions at the White House
During its recent visit to the United States of America last September, a delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs held discussions with Elliott Abrams, Assistant Counsel to the President on national security in charge of the Middle East and the strategy for inclusive democracy, and with Gordon Gray, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East in charge of North Africa.
This meeting was attended by Mr. Mike Duran Director for the Middle East, at the Domestic Security Council, Mr. Nicolas Ramchar director of the Middle East, in charge of the Maghreb, Mr. Robert Ewing, in charge of the Moroccan Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thomas Riley, U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and the Ambassador of Morocco in the United States Aziz Mekouar.
The delegation, which includes about ten members of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs held discussions with U.S. Senator Tom Lantos, and a working meeting with Mr. John Alterman, director of the Middle East program at international strategic studies center. Members of the U.S. Congress praised the self-governance project in the southern provinces of the Kingdom, which was proposed by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, saying that this proposal conforms with the concepts and principles of democracy internationally recognized, as it constitutes a distinct contribution to the solution to the Sahara issue.
This came during a meeting which brought together at the Congress the delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs led by Khalihenna Ould Errachid, President of the Council, with members of the House of Representatives and members of the "Morocco Cokies" Association at the Congress highlighting the democratic nature of this proposal, whether at the Arab or African or Maghreb levels.
During these meetings, attended by the Ambassador of Morocco Aziz Mekouar, the President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs said that self-government is fully compatible with the standards of democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights, and constitutes the best solution to this issue as there would be no loser, in the sense that this solution preserves the sovereignty of Morocco and gives people the possibility of running their own affairs.
Mr. Ould Errachid noted that, "Sahara dispute is not positive for the residents of this region, in the Maghreb, in the African continent," he said, adding that the conflict has delayed the building of the Arab Maghreb Union, divided Africa and still is a hotbed of tension in the region. He also warned against the danger of infiltration of terrorist movements in the region, with the support of a dangerous mixture consisting of movements outside the scope of the law, and brokers of illegal immigration and smuggling of weapons.
Corcas delegation held a series of discussions with U.S. officials and leaders of several institutions and experts. The delegation also held meetings with members of the Moroccan community living in Washington. The delegation includes Khalihenna Ould Errachid, Secretary General Maoulainain Ben Khalihenna, Kalthoum Alkhayat Gajmoula Ben Abi, Moulay Al-Hassan Chrif, Abdel Aziz Aba, Othman Aila, Omar Bouida Khaddad Moussaoui, Ali Salem Chakkaf and Moulay Ahmed Mghizlat
Corcas delegation meets with member of the International Relations Committee and Chairman of Human Rights Committee in Congress
Corcas delegation met with U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, in the presence of the following personnalities : Alan Makovsky senior official and member of the International Relations Committee, Hans-Joachim Hugriph senior official and Director of the Commission on Human Rights.
During the meeting, Mr. Ould Errachid made a presentation on the functions and objectives of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, including working on a final and lasting solution to this sterile conflict. He also dealt with the historical inventory of the dispute as well as its stages. Self-governance is a democratic, transparent and achievable substitute within the framework of the democratic values of pluralism and respect of international legitimacy.
Mr. President mentioned to Mr. Lantos solid friendship between the two countries and asked him to support Morocco in the conflict in order to complete the territorial integrity of Morocco.
Mr. Lantos said that his position on autonomy would be made after examining the project.
Council delegation meets with George Meek, member of U.S. Congress
Mr. President briefed Mr. George Meek about deep relations between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Morocco and the interests of the two countries in resolving the dispute, which will enable the region stability and economic development.
During the meeting with Mr. George Meek, member of Congress, Khalihenna Ould Errachid said that the Council is interested in finding a solution to this conflict which has lasted for a long time, considering that the solution would end the suffering of Sahrawis, Mr. President also stressed the importance of a political solution negotiated, compatible and accepted by the United Nations.
Mr. George Meek said all members of Congress are interested in in this dispute.
Round-table at Contemporary Arab Studies Center (Maghreb Center) at Georgetown University
The President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid said that autonomy in the southern regions of Morocco, which corresponds to international standards in force in the field of self-determination, was intended to establish unity and reconciliation
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, who is currently on a visit to the United States of America at the head of a senior delegation from the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, explained in his intervention during the round table organized by the Maghreb Center belonging to the Contemporary Arab Studies Center at Georgetown University that this initiative is an appropriate solution to the problem that has lasted too long.
He said during the round table attended by the Ambassador of Morocco to the United States of America, Mr. Aziz Mekouar, "The speech of His Majesty the King on March 25 this year in the city of Laayoune, which announced the inauguration of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, was the beginning of reconciliation."
Khalihenna Ould Errachid, announced to professors, researchers and students who were following with interest the explanations provided about the issue, that the position of Morocco, based on dialogue, compromise and reconciliation is the solution to all Sahrawis wherever they are, whether in Morocco, Tindouf in Algeria, Mauritania, Spain or anywhere.
He added that the autonomy proposal " is aimed at preserving the cultural identity of the Sahara" and is "a long-cherished dream for all Saharans " to find a "solution to this problem that has prolonged more than necessary." He pointed out that all the peoples of the Saharan region want to solve this problem to direct all its resources and energies towards building the Arab Maghreb.
Speaking on the creation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, which he described as "historic" and its tasks, Mr. Ould Errachid said that the composition of the Council includes all Saharan groups, highlighting that its mission is to create the political, economic, diplomatic and psychological conditions necessary to establish self-government.
On the other hand, the President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs dealt in detail with the negative impact of the problem on the region as a whole, pointing out that "according to all the Arab, Islamic countries and the majority of African countries, the
problem is sterile in the Maghreb region, but obstructing the path towards progress at the political, social and economic levels. "
He said that the proposed autonomy would not be useful for the rest of the Sahara and the Maghreb countries only, but also for the whole region and all countries of the African continent, pointing out that this initiative will change the economic relations in this region which will be, once the solution to the problem of
Sahara is found, a pole of attraction for foreign investment.
Concerning the receipt of the international community of autonomy, Mr Ould Errachid said that the world powers, including the United States of America, hope the Maghreb will be built, where democracy and stability will reign in the region, and these objectives can not be achieved without the settlement of the dispute of the Sahara.
The round table moderated by Mr. Talal Belghiti Director of Research and Development at the Center, was attended by Ms. Barbara Stuasir Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. The delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, who is visiting Washington since Monday, met with many members of Congress who expressed their appreciation for autonomy, and noted that it was in line with the ideals and principles of democracy internationally recognized.
It is planned that the delegation will hold a meeting with (Brookings Institution) with Ambassador Martin Indeq on foreign policy studies program of the Foundation, a series of meetings with U.S. officials and leaders of many other institutions and think tanks.
The visit program of the delegation, composed of Khalihenna Ould Errachid, Secretary General Maoulainain Ben Khalihenna, Kalthoum Alkhayat Gajmoula Ben Abi, Moulay Al-Hassan Chrif, Abdel Aziz Aba, Othman Aila, Omar Bouida Khaddad Moussaoui, Ali Salem Chakkaf and Moulay Ahmed Mghizlat, includes meetings with the Moroccan community living in Washington, as well as with the American and foreign press based in Washington.
Moroccan community in US should defend Morocco's territorial integrity, CORCAS chairman
Khalihenna: Moroccan community living in the USA should play major part in defending Morocco's territorial integrity
The Moroccan community living in the USA should play an important role in defending Morocco's territorial integrity and raising the awareness of the American officials, congressmen and the public opinion about the relevance of the autonomy project to settle the Sahara issue, said the chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, Khalihenna Ould Errachid.
Morocco has proposed to grant large autonomy to its Southern Provinces, as a solution to the Sahara conflict, triggered in 1975 by the Algeria-backed "Polisario" separatists. The group lays claims to Morocco's Southern Provinces, known as the Sahara, which the north African kingdom had retrieved from Spanish rule under the Madrid accords signed in 1975.
Speaking at a meeting organized by the Moroccan community in Washington, Ould Errachid said the members of the Moroccan community, notably those with a double nationality, should get further involved in the American political life, integrate in civil society associations and set up lobbies to engage dialog with the American Congress and its staffers to defend the cause of the kingdom's territorial integrity.
On the other hand, the officials announced that CORCAS will be endowed with a website in October to inform the public opinion on its missions and achievements, underlining the need to foil the allegations spread by certain parties about the Sahara issue.
Ould Errachid called on Moroccans living in the US to use all communication means to reflect the reality of the populations in the southern provinces, foil the manoeuvres of Morocco’s territorial integrity enemies and defend the autonomy project.
Corcas delegation expresses its satisfaction over its talks in Washington
The delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, which had recently visited the United States, expressed its satisfaction over the "very positive" results for contacts and talks with officials and especially Congress members, media and social actors in Washington
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, Council chairman expressed its great satisfaction over the talks which was an opportunity for him and for the delegation accompanying him, to explain to various interlocutors, the Council's composition and functions entrusted to it, as well as a number of special topics such as engagement required by the autonomy project proposed by Morocco.
He stressed that the U.S. administration officials and Congress members, both Republicans and Democrats, expressed "understanding" of the issue of autonomy project, which they considered identical "to the regulations and standards" applied internationally in some Western countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy.
During the talks, which took place at the congress described by Ould Errachid as "friendly and frank", influential members of the Congress expressed their appreciation for the autonomy project proposed by His Majesty the King, stressing that this method corresponds with the ideas and democratic principles recognized internationally, and is a "positive contribution" to settle the Sahara issue.
During the various meetings attended by Morocco's ambassador to the United States, Mr. Aziz Mekouar, and held by the Council delegation with Democratic and Republican members at the US administration, including Mr. Elliott Abrams Deputy Presidential Adviser for National Security, Mr. Gordon Gray, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East in charge if the Maghreb, officials of non-governmental organizations, including "Brooking
Institution" and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Khalihenna explained the philosophy of autonomy proposed by Morocco.
He noted, in this connection, that the autonomy proposal will enable the Saharan population to benefit from all their political, economic, social and cultural rights, and will allow Morocco consolidate its sovereignty over its southern provinces in accordance with international legitimacy.
Mr. Ould Errachid said that autonomy proposed by Morocco, which is a unique project of its kind in Africa and the Arab world, would pave the way for construction of the Maghreb, thus meeting the aspirations of the peoples of the region, which is delayed by the conflict fabricated from remnants of the Cold War.
Mr. Khalihenna explained how the conflict broke out and the initiatives undertaken by the United Nations to find a settlement and the reasons why the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara is not possible, and that the autonomy plan for the southern provinces is a project aimed at achieving unity and reconciliation, not division, and based on dialogue, negotiation and compromise.
He explained that the proposed autonomy would be useful not only for the Sahara and other Maghreb countries, but also for the total region and the entire African continent. The delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, which includes Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, Maouelainin Ben Khalihenna, Secretary General, Mrs. Kulthum Khayti, Gajmoula Ben Abbi, Moulay Hsna Cherif, Abdelaziz Aba, Othman Aila, Omar Bouida Khaddad Moussaoui, Ali Salem Chakkaf, and Moulay Ahmed Moghaizlat, took part also in a round table organized by the Arab Maghreb Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
It also held meetings with members of the Moroccan community in the Washington area. During this visit to the Federal Capital of America, Mr. Khalihenna talked to many American media, as well as foreign journalists accredited in Washington.
Corcas delegation meets with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Richard Lugo
At the same visit to Washington, the delegation of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs met with Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the American Senate and his team of advisers : Chris Stephens, Scott Teijer, Taluer Bennett, Joseph Biden, Perry Kamak.
Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid informed attendance on the functions and objectives of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, and then outlined the chronology of the conflict that has lasted more than 30 years without any concrete solution. He mentioned in the same time that all the proposals made by the United Nations had failed with recognition by international community.
Mr. President said that the Moroccan proposal to grant autonomy to the southern provinces under Moroccan sovereignty, is a realistic and feasible new, decentralized and unprecedented solution in the Arab world, as it exists in Europe.
Regarding the question of Chris Stevens on the relationship between the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs and the process of United Nations as well as method used to bring Polisario to engage in this process, Mr. President said that the Personal Envoy to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, visited Morocco and said the only solution is through dialogue and compromise. The United Nations knows that any scheme based on identification is not possible. The Moroccan proposal to grant autonomy to the southern provinces is in line with the principle of self-determination within Moroccan sovereignty.
(News on Western Sahara issue / Corcas)