Moroccan Regime Pushes De Mistura to Repeat Kohler’s Scenario
Will the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, throw in the towel less than two years after he was assigned to this position by the Portuguese UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres? This question has been circulated frequently in recent days, forcing the UN to respond to this controversy.
The UN Secretary-General’s spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, denied, in press statements, what was circulated, saying: “We have been getting some questions about our friend Staffan de Mistura, the Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, and the speculation that we have seen in some press quarters is that he is considering stepping down.” He added, “I just want to say that they are speculation, and in fact, completely false”.
Dujarric confirmed that “the Personal Envoy is planning to maintain and intensify engagements with all concerned and broader international supporters in a variety of formats, including regional visits and bilateral opportunities. Mr. de Mistura appreciates the support of the members of the Security Council, as well as the Group of Friends for Western Sahara, as recently evidenced in his meetings in New York”, speaking about last April’s meetings with representatives of the Polisario Front and others from the Moroccan regime, in addition to other meetings with representatives from all of Algeria and Mauritania, as two observer countries, by their geographical location as neighbouring countries.
The meetings also included representatives of the member states of the Group of Friends of Western Sahara, namely the United States of America, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Spain, which are endeavours that remain far from what was hoped for from his mission, especially from the Sahrawi side, which no longer expects much from the UN Secretary General’s Envoys.
The dual-national diplomat (Italian-Swedish) Staffan de Mistura officially assumed office on the 1st of November 2021, succeeding the German Horst Kohler. Since then, he has only been able to make two trips to the Maghreb countries, to launch negotiations between the two conflicting parties, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
As for the Algerian side, it settled the matter from the outset by emphasizing its refusal to participate in the round-table meetings initiated by the Special Envoy and the former German envoy, Horst Köhler, after the Moroccan regime turned them into practices to gain more time and divert the course of the issue in a different direction, as stated by the former Algerian Special Envoy for the Western Sahara Issue, Amar Belani.
During the two tours that led him to the region, Staffan de Mistura was unable to visit the occupied Sahrawi territories, although he stood on the situation and suffering of the Sahrawi people in the occupied territories, and at the core of the mission entrusted to him, he was prevented by the Moroccan regime from visiting the occupied territories and was even subjected to humiliating treatment when he was left waiting in front of the office of the Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita for a long time.
De Mistura also tried to visit occupied Western Sahara lands on the second visit, but he was met with conditions imposed on him, such as limiting his reception to a specific number of Sahrawi personalities loyal to the Moroccan occupation regime, and not being able to meet the Sahrawis who are demanding their right to self-determination, which was behind the decision of the Italian-Swidish diplomat to cancel the visit for the second time, which was considered by the UN body as an obstruction by the Moroccan Makhzen regime to UN efforts aimed at finding solutions to the Sahrawi issue.
Such practices would prompt Staffan de Mistura to consider resignation, especially if he finds out that the UN Security Council is unwilling to take firm decisions against the Moroccan regime if it continues to put obstacles in the way of accomplishing the mission entrusted to it.