Rabat – US Republican Senator James Inhofe displayed his pro-Polisario sentiment on January 20 when questioning the candidate US President Joe Biden chose for the post of secretary of defense.
Inhofe, who is also the chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, is among the few officials in the US who publicly express biased positions, challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity at every chance he gets.
This time, the top Repbulican on the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Biden’s candidate Llyod Austin at the committee’s hearing to consider him for the position at the Department of Defense.
During the questioning session, Inhofe brought up the Western Sahara conflict, claiming that the US has supported a referendum for self-determination for Western Sahara since 1975
“Now the United States has done that ever since the 1970s, the UN has done that since the 1970s, the Arican Union has done that and most all of the 52 nations of Africa have all stated that the Western Sahara should have a referendum for self-determination. What do you think?” the senator asked.
Biden’s candidate for the position answered the question with impartiality, saying that it is an issue that needs a “closer look” before he can give a detailed answer.
“That is one of the things that I’ll look at, if confirmed, right away, going into the position,” Austin said.
Inhofe also attempted to influence Austin, reminding him to adhere to a “consistent position” that is not actually the position of the US or other parties he mentioned.
“Yeah, and I’d like to have you keep in mind that they have been consistent for so many years, and so I would anticipate that your feelings would be the same,” Inhofe insisted.
This is not the first time US Senator Inhofe has shown bias regarding Western Sahara, acting as a voice for the Polisario Front.
The Republican representative penned several op-ed pieces challenging Morocco’s territorial integrity even after former President Donald Trump signed a proclamation to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
How Inhofe reads the Guerguerat crisis
Inhofe also adopts a critical view of Morocco’s defense against Polisario’s illegal maneuvers in UN restricted areas.
In November, the US senator criticized King Mohammed VI’s royal speech and accused Morocco of escalation.
The biased statements, however, ignored Polisario’s illegal maneuvers in the region, especially Guerguerat, despite the separatist group’s attempts to jeopardize stability.
From October 21 until November 13, Polisario had sent militias to the region to carry out illegal demonstrations. The acts resulted in a blockade which trapped truck drivers on both sides of the Moroccan-Mauritanian border until Morocco sent military personnel to peacefully lift the blockade.
Many in the international community lauded Morocco’s security operation and thanked the North African country for restoring stability.
Spreading a message
Inhofe is one of a few influential men of power in the US, also including John Bolton and Stephen Zunes, who repeat a misleading narrative. They use biased statements to present a false image of Morocco and its policy regarding Western Sahara.
In February 2019, Inhofe led a high-profile US delegation to the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria.
The delegation met with high-ranking Algerian and Polisario officials, including the self-styled president of the Polisario-administered territories, Brahim Ghali.
At a press conference after the delegation met with Polisario leadership, Evangelical Christian Inhofe spoke out against a “colonial and oppressive” Moroccan regime. In 2002, the same senator lamented the UN’s “imposition” on Israel to depart from a land that is “its historic right.”
The US’ Evangelical Christian community has for decades provided material support for the camps. Questions remain as to the motivations behind Inhofe’s pro-Polisario political fervor.
Read also: Polisario’s ‘American Friends’ and Politics of Evangelical Humanitarianism in Tindouf Camps