Washington, 27 November 2023 (SPS) - Morocco is desperately seeking to "greenwash” its occupation of Western Sahara through new energy projects in the occupied territories, and is making Europe "complicit" in its illegal activities, according to an article published Sunday in a US magazine.
“The Moroccan monarchy is trying to greenwash its occupation” said Mahfoud Bechri, the coordinator of the Western Sahara is Not for Sale campaign (WSNS), quoted by Forbes. “It is trying to present itself as a leader in the energy transition, but most of its new projects are in the Western Sahara. By involving foreign companies, like Siemens, they are making Europe complicit and creating a sense of normalcy in the occupation.”
“These firms are aware that what they are doing is illegal” argued Bechri, in a phone interview. “European agreements do not extend to the occupied territories, which are separate from Morocco under international law. There is an ongoing conflict, and a peace process, which need to be resolved first and foremost. They never asked the Sahrawi people for consent—which is a necessary legal step. This has been confirmed several times by EU Court of Justice (EUCJ) rulings,” he said.
In his article, the Forbes journalist Elias Ferrer Breda wrote “there are many reasons why the Moroccan government would have been so aggressive at lobbying in Europe—to the point of allegedly committing illegal activity, including bribes. One key issue has been achieving legitimacy for its illegal occupation of the Western Sahara.”
“Why is the Moroccan monarchy desperate to turn the Western Sahara into a profitable venture? The main reason is to gain legitimacy while offsetting the heavy costs of settlement and, especially, the enormous military expenditure. The Western Sahara’s urban centres largely depend on expensive desalination plants; the territory is ill-fitted to support large populations, while Morocco incentivised its population to move there with tax breaks and free or cheap land,” he continued.
He revealed that “half of the active personnel could be deployed around the occupied territories—that would be 200,000 people on payroll. During the 1980s, the Moroccan military built a series of berms: extensive sand ramparts with heavy presence of personnel and surveillance technology. Analysts estimate this structure costs close to $2 million a day to maintain. It is also surrounded by millions of landmines.”