How seriously can Morocco take the European parliament when an MEP ‘intergroup’ is so hell bent on spreading lies about Morocco and undermining the Kingdom within the EU?
The corruption scandal in the European Parliament has highlighted the influence that certain countries or organisations have within the European institution. Among the foreign actors seeking to interfere in the European Parliament to expand their interests are Algeria and the Polisario Front. Through the “Intergroup for Western Sahara”, this group “only invites people who obey the Polisario’s agenda, including Sultana Khaya, who often calls for terrorist acts against civilians in the Sahara”, notes former Spanish MP Juan Vicente Pérez Aras on the website moncloa.com.
Despite presenting itself as a group dealing with the situation of the Saharawis, the Intergroup for Western Sahara has never raised the issue of human rights violations in the refugee camps of Tindouf, in southern Algeria. Pérez Aras recalls that the Geneva Convention is not being applied in the camps, as there are no censuses or registers.
Nor has the group mentioned the embezzlement of humanitarian aid intended for refugees, as denounced in 2015 by OLAF, the European Commission’s anti-fraud agency. The agency directly accused the Polisario of being directly involved in the diversion and theft of humanitarian aid provided since 2003. According to OLAF, the aid packages were sold in Algeria, Mauritania and Mali.
The humanitarian situation in the Tindouf camps is critical. And, in this regard, of most concern are the children, who could be being used militarily by the Polisario, according to various reports.
None of these issues have ever been raised by the group, which shows that its sole purpose is to spread propaganda within the EP. The Western Sahara Intergroup also aims to undermine relations between the EU and Morocco, a key partner for the countries of the Old Continent.
The latest European Parliament resolution on Morocco has strained relations between Brussels and Rabat, to the extent that the Moroccan parliament announced that it would “reconsider” its ties with its European counterpart. Although Moroccan politicians such as Lahcen Haddad, president of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, pointed in particular to “part of the French deep state” as the architect of the resolution, other reports point to MEPs close to Algeria and the Intergroup for Western Sahara, described by Moroccan media such as Barlamane as “an Algerian Trojan horse that takes advantage of European mechanisms and its capacity of influence to defend hostile views towards Morocco”.
“It should not be forgotten that the Algerian authorities have invested a lot of money in lobbying,” political scientist Driss Aissaoui told Moroccan media outlet Hespress shortly after the resolution. Aissaoui also stressed that “people close” to French President Emmanuel Macron “are people who work closely with Algeria”.
In the wake of the controversial resolution, many questioned why the European Parliament does not address the human rights situation in other Maghreb countries such as Algeria, where independent journalists and activists close to the Hirak are coming under heavy pressure from the authorities amid a growing wave of repression.
However, since the war in Ukraine began, many European countries such as Italy and France have seen Algeria as a new energy partner in order to stop depending on Russian gas. Rome has reached an agreement with Algiers in this area, while Paris is trying to improve its relations with the North African country after years of disagreements linked to its colonial past. However, the case of French-Algerian activist Amira Bouraoui has clouded these ties. Despite the fact that Algiers withdrew its ambassador in Paris after Bouraoui’s arrival in France, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs assures that “they intend to continue working to deepen bilateral relations”.
Margarita Arredondas Vidal is a Journalist specializing in the Middle East and North Africa. This article was originally published by a Spanish geopolitical website called Atalayar.com
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