Letter to the Editor: Morocco, phosphate and ‘illegal occupation’

OCP's Merah phosphate washing plant in Khouribga, Morocco. Source: OCPOCP's Merah phosphate washing plant in Khouribga, Morocco. Source: OCP

Matthew Keevil’s report from Marrakesh entitled “Morocco’s OCP aims to dominate phosphate industry” (T.N.M., Oct. 12-18/15) is a fine, incisive article and one deserving of wide reading.

Canada enjoys an interesting connection to Western Sahara through the purchase of high quality phosphate mineral rock from that territory by Agrium Inc. and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. In recent years, the two companies have accounted for the majority of the 2.2 million tonnes annually exported from Western Sahara; Agrium transporting it to Vancouver through the Panama Canal and PotashCorp to Geismar on the Mississippi River.

Most of Western Sahara, known as Spanish Sahara until 1975, remains illegally occupied by Morocco. Much has gone into the manufacturing of a claim to the territory and so it must be recalled that the International Court of Justice concluded in its October 1975 advisory opinion that Morocco had no basis for a territorial claim. (See paragraph 162 of the decision, online at: www.icj-cij.org)

Moreover, many resolutions of the UN General Assembly have declared Western Sahara to be occupied (a term with particular import in international law), Spanish criminal magistrates are presently investigating war crime and genocide allegations under the occupation, and the African Union has recently (March 27, 2015 and Oct. 14, 2015) demanded the Saharawi people be permitted to exercise their right of self-determination as Africa’s last colony. That right, well settled in international law and practice (for which see the recent cases of Namibia and East Timor) includes the option of independence, something not on offer in a so-called autonomy proposal advanced by Morocco in 2007.

It is said that “on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” So responsive posts are usefully treated with a degree of incredulity. Readers wanting useful, independent information about the problem of phosphate exports from occupied Western Sahara will find the October issue of the academic, peer reviewed journal Global Change, Peace & Security useful, as well as reports of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington.

Jeffrey J. Smith, Professor
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs
Carleton University


6 Comments on "Letter to the Editor: Morocco, phosphate and ‘illegal occupation’"

  1. I would have liked if the writer had more relevant information before he wrote this article in order to not mislead the readers. In fact hé has to know that the phosphate of Boucraa is of poor quality, the worst among OCP production. Boucraa produces less than 5% of OCP whole production and it is one rare example in the world were profitability doesn’t stand fundamental and the only reason for keeping the mine open for production is to boost employment in this region. In fact, If the mine were not subsidised it would never be in operation. Furthermore, the Moroccan government invests in south of Morocco 17 times what he gets from selling Boucraa phosphates. This 6 November, The king is announcing a huge investment program in this region CAD 19 billion!! Which is much more than the peanuts OCP gets from selling sahara’s phosphates.

  2. This article is full of allegations and let me say lies. His author mentionned many times the adjective “occupied” and affirmed it exists in UN resolutions wich is completly wrong, and the author knows that very well. He also mentionned the so-called african union and the kennedy center for what is pretend to be human rights, an old story isn’t it? Both organizations are not neutral in this affair and the author as well. Just remember the sahar was always moroccan and will remain remain a belonging of the Noroccan People. You and the whole univers must walk on 40 millions of cranes if you aim to change that effect. Period!

  3. Before basing your self on baseless lies,you must refer to history of the region and then explain to the world that reason for which you pretending such an old propaganda.Please admit that algerian lobbing of SONATRACH in Texas is paying penny of dollar for the algerian regime to obtain a way to the alantic ocean.We Moroccan prefer to die rather to accept any resolution against our national interest.Please be honest enough for such a case

  4. While analysing your article ,we get the conclusion that the algerian regime must have fed you with wrong historical data and therefore you are reporting lies.SONATRACH was involved since ages to export LNG through our terroteries of the alantic,but we refused this way and started since that time by all the means to find political influence,800billions usd repeat 800 billions usd were already spent but in vain.Compare now algeria,which is an influencing member of Opec and Morocco .Why you did not refer to this situation?????The robert Kenndy association and some african nations in addis Ababa are all unfair and reliable,all of them supported financially by the algerian regime.Surely you are aware about it.This is our cause and not yours.We invite you to visite any algerian city,and Tindouf and then come any city in the moroccan Sahara,you will be changing your mind on the spot:We are respecting humain right providing adequat schooling,security,medical care,continuous change everywhere.

  5. i meant not reliable,please correct that statement in negative

  6. First, Spanish Sahara ?! The Spain have a Sahara in africa ? So that mean the spanish occupied it, why you did not mention it ?
    Second, i invite you to read History and Geography of Morocco
    Third, Why you are occupying Canada ? Canada is not yours, it belong to Aboriginal Canadians, so your ancestors comes from europe and occupied all the country. Please leave and return to ireland and england.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. To learn more, click more information

Dear user, please be aware that we use cookies to help users navigate our website content and to help us understand how we can improve the user experience. If you have ideas for how we can improve our services, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to email us. By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. Please see our Privacy & Cookie Usage Policy to learn more.