Pompeo Announces US Consulate in Western Sahara

Ned Price, a spokesman for the Biden transition team, declined to comment on the matter.

The announcement came after President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that the U.S. would recognize Morocco’s longstanding claims to former Spanish territory as part of a normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel. Israel has forged ties with several Arab countries in the last few months of the Trump administration – deals that the president’s allies have announced as the cornerstone of his foreign policy legacy.

Before the Israel-Morocco agreement, the US policy towards the territory was aligned with the European Union, the United Nations and the African Union in calling for a path of self-determination for the territory. Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until the mid-1970s, when Morocco invaded and established de facto control over most of the area that has lasted to the present day. Morocco is in a diplomatic standoff with the self-proclaimed Arab Democratic Republic Sahrawi, whose Polisario Front maintains control over a piece of land near the Algerian border.

“The United States looks forward to this greater commitment and we will continue to support political negotiations to resolve issues between Morocco and POLISARIO within the framework of Morocco’s autonomy plan,” the State Department statement said on Thursday.

The Trump administration’s recognition of Morocco’s claim earlier this month quickly raised eyebrows, both from the international community and its own party. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Called the agreement “shocking and deeply disappointing”.

Former Secretary of State James Baker condemned the measure last week as an unnecessary break with the status quo and a potential source of conflict with US strategic allies in the Mediterranean, particularly in Algeria.