UN Closes Military Liaison Office in Dakhla per Moroccos Orders
Rabat – The United Nations closed its military liaison office in the Saharan city of Dakhla on Tuesday as ordered by Morocco amid a row over remarks by the U.N. secretary-general.“This was completed yesterday,” U.N. deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told Reuters on Wednesday. “The three military observers based there were relocated to the Aousserd team site, on the western part of the territory, controlled by Morocco. Morocco’s request to close the liaison office in Dakhla is the first request directly targeting the military component.”Last week, over 70 U.N. international staffers pulled out of the civilian wing of the U.N. mission, known, by its French acronym as MINURSO. Morocco had demanded they withdraw from their offices in Laayoune in response to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s use of the term “occupation” to describe Morocco’s presence in the Sahara earlier this month. Haq said the Dakhla office was the U.N.’s “face-to-face counterpart to the Royal Moroccan Army” since it was established in 1991 after the intergovernmental organization brokered a ceasefire deal between Morocco and the separatist Polisario Front. He added that the relocation made direct talks with the Moroccan armed forces “more difficult.”Ki-moon and the 15-nation Security Council had their monthly meeting on Monday, during which they discussed the ongoing row with Morocco. Several diplomats had told Reuters that the secretary-general left the meeting with the impression that a statement of support for him would be issued soon, however, this did not occur.“In enough time, a lack of a statement can indeed be interpreted as a statement of its very own,” Haq said.