June 17, 2024

In fresh letter, U.S. Congress members Sara Jacobs and Colin Allred ask Biden not to sell weapons to Morocco, warn they may be used against the Sahrawi people

President Joe Biden talks on the phone with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, about the Build Back Better agenda, Friday, October 22, 2021, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
President Joe Biden talks on the phone with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, about the Build Back Better agenda, Friday, October 22, 2021, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

United States Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) and Congressman Colin Allred (D-TX-32) have written to President Biden, urging the administration not to proceed with any significant or offensive weapons sales with Morocco.

They asserted that “such sales would be highly inappropriate in light of recent escalating violence between Morocco’s security forces and the Polisario, the lack of assurances from Morocco that such weapons will not be used against the Sahrawi people, and the lack of progress towards a political referendum and a final peace agreement with Western Sahara.”

The letter was also signed by nine other members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: including Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1), Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN-3), Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA-7), Rep. Ted W. Lieu (CA-53), Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI-9), and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1).

The letter was endorsed by seven organizations, including Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), Legacy of Equality Leadership Organizing (LELO), WE International, Grace Initiative Global, U.S.-Western Sahara Foundation, Nonviolence International, and Institute of the Black World 21st Century.

The full text is included below:

jacobs_letter_to_biden_on_morocco-western_saharaDownload

March 3, 2022

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Biden:

We write to express our concern with the current U.S. policy on Morocco and the Kingdom’s claims to the Western Sahara. In December 2020, the previous Administration officially recognized Morocco’s claims of sovereignty over the Western Sahara, despite the fact that for decades both Republican and Democrat administrations have refused to recognize Morocco’s claims of sovereignty over the territory. 

As a result of this policy reversal, the United States is now the only country to officially recognize Morocco’s claims in contravention of international law and the internationally recognized right to self-determination.  The International Court of Justice and the E.U. Court of Justice have issued multiple landmark rulings upholding the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination and concluding that Morocco has no valid claim to the territory.

We are particularly concerned about the arms package that the Biden Administration has agreed to enter into with Morocco. In December of last year, the previous Administration notified Congress of $1 billion in weapons sales to Morocco, including four MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones and Hellfire, Paveway and JDAM precision-guided munitions, and this deal is set to move forward under this Administration. Without assurances from Morocco otherwise, we are concerned that these weapons may be used in an offensive manner against the Sahrawi people or may otherwise facilitate Morocco’s illegal occupation of the territory. 

Finally, while we were heartened by the recent appointment of Staffan de Mistura as the UN Secretary General’s new Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, we are concerned that the United States has not made a clear commitment to signifying to the United Nations that Washington supports a peaceful and lasting settlement between Morocco and the Sahrawis’ recognized government representatives. 

Therefore, we urge the Administration not to proceed with any significant or offensive weapons sales with Morocco. Such sales would be highly inappropriate in light of recent escalating violence between Morocco’s security forces and the Polisario, the lack of assurances from Morocco that such weapons will not be used against the Sahrawi people, and the lack of progress towards a political referendum and a final peace agreement with Western Sahara. We also request a briefing for the undersigned members on the arms package and the Administration’s recent policy review towards both Western Sahara and Morocco, including the short- and long-term consequences of recognizing Morocco’s territorial claims on the prospects for peace.

The United States has a critical role to play in this prolonged dispute. We hope it can be one that ensures the Sahrawi people are able to live in freedom, dignity, and peace, and can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. We thank you for your urgent attention to this critical matter.

Sincerely,

Sara Jacobs                                        Colin Allred

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

Dina Titus                                            Dean Phillips

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

Juan Vargas                                        Susan Wild

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

Ted W. Lieu                                        Andy Levin

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

Joaquin Castro                                    David N. Cicilline

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

Karen Bass

Member of Congress

CC: 

Gregory Meeks

Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee

Antony Blinken, Secretary

U.S. Department of State

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