Envoy wants Western Sahara parties to meet in 2018: Britain

Britain's Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen speaks at UN headquarters in New York, US. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 09 August 2018

Envoy wants Western Sahara parties to meet in 2018: Britain

  • The Polisario Front insists on self-determination through a referendum for the local population
  • Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony

UNITED NATIONS: Former German President Horst Koehler is trying to bring Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement together by the end of the year to work on a solution to the 42-year conflict over the Western Sahara, Britain’s deputy UN ambassador said Wednesday.
Koehler, the secretary-general’s personal envoy for Western Sahara, briefed the Security Council behind closed doors, and British envoy Jonathan Allen told several reporters afterward that all 15 members “stressed the importance of consultations with everybody.”
“The president got a lot of support from the council for his approach and for his proposal to try and see if he can bring the parties together by the end of the year,” said Allen, who chaired the meeting as part of Britain’s council presidency this month.
A UN diplomat said Koehler told members that he would be sending invitations to the parties in September.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front. The UN brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and help prepare a referendum on the territory’s future that has never taken place.
Morocco considers the mineral-rich Western Sahara its “southern provinces” and has proposed giving the territory wide-ranging autonomy. The Polisario Front insists on self-determination through a referendum for the local population, which it estimates at between 350,000 and 500,000.
Sidi Omar, the Polisario Front’s UN representative, said bringing the parties together by the end of the year “would be a positive step in the process, definitely.”
“We’re very willing and ready to accept an invitation should that be addressed to us, to engage in this process in the framework of the United Nations ... to find a lasting and peaceful solution to this longstanding conflict,” Omar said.
Morocco’s UN Mission did not have any immediate comment on the meeting.


FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

Updated 08 December 2019

FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

  • Special agent Rachel Rojas thanked Saudi Arabia for its cooperation in the investigation
  • Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was shot dead after he opened fire and killed three people at the base in Florida

PENSACOLA: Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone on Friday when he killed three people and wounded eight at a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida before being fatally shot by police, the FBI said on Sunday.
Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, said the shooter used a Glock model 45 9mm handgun that he had purchased legally in Florida.
“We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case,” Rojas, the lead investigator on the case, said at a news conference.
“We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right,” she said.
Authorities confirmed the suspect was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base as part of a US Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies.
The FBI identified him as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the gunman, authorities said, ending the second deadly attack at a US military base within a week. Within hours, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had called US President Donald Trump to extend his condolences and pledge the Kingdom’s support in the investigation.
Rojas said there were several Saudi students who were close to the shooter and are cooperating with investigators.
“Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation,” she said. “I thank the kingdom for their pledge of full and complete cooperation.”