The contents of our letter sent to the White House:
May 17, 2023
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to appeal to you and your administration to immediately stop any weapons sales and any U.S. foreign assistance to the Kingdom of Morocco until the Kingdom ends its brutal, illegal occupation of Western Sahara and ceases its ongoing human rights violations against innocent civilians. We deeply appreciate that you promised that your administration would be guided by human rights principles and respect for international law. Providing weapons to Morocco is inconsistent with your administration’s goals, which would instead aid a Kingdom that illegally invaded a Non-Self-Governing Territory. The Biden Administration should not be aiding the invader against those defending their homeland, and such a policy would be inconsistent with the U.S. position against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
We instead again urge your administration to denounce Morocco’s ongoing violent aggression against the Sahrawi population and immediately launch an investigation into the crimes of aggression being perpetrated by the Kingdom of Morocco. These crimes of aggression have further escalated in recent years. In particular, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was left with no other choice but to militarily defend its people and territory after Morocco violated the decades-long ceasefire by openly attacking unarmed Sahrawi civilians in November 2020.
We were shocked at the potential weapons sales to Morocco that the State Department approved on April 11, 2023. These sales include High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and related equipment at an estimated cost of $524.2 million, and Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW) and related equipment at an estimated cost of $250 million. The certification of both these potential sales submitted by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency claims that “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” However, these sales would have a major impact on the balance of the conflict between Morocco’s armed forces and those of SADR. HIMARS, combined with Army Tactical Missile Systems, would allow the Moroccan armed forces to gain deeper strike capabilities against
SADR targets. The SADR military, meanwhile, does not have any comparable systems or other means of defense against such weapons. The sales would signal to the international community that the United States is taking sides in an active conflict between Morocco and the SADR. Such a decision will, in turn, hinder the U.S. Government’s ability to serve as a neutral broker in any future negotiations between the two parties.
We note that former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had described Western Sahara to be under an “occupation” by Morocco that “is unacceptable” and “one of the forgotten humanitarian tragedies of our time.” For decades, nongovernmental organizations from across the ideological spectrum have documented credible and overwhelming evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression by the Kingdom of Morocco, and an overall flagrant disregard for rule of law in the Western Sahara.
In short, there is no guarantee that weapons sold to the Kingdom will not be used against the Sahrawi people. SADR is recognized as the legitimate government of Western Sahara by the African Union and over seventy nations. Weapons sales will only further inflame this conflict and cause more death to unarmed civilians as the Kingdom of Morocco is using drones to kill civilians. It would be an appalling affront to U.S. human rights values for US taxpayers to have any role in furthering these ongoing crimes against the Sahrawi people.
Finally, we reiterate our request that the Biden Administration schedule a meeting with representatives of our Campaign to End the Moroccan Occupation of the Western Sahara as soon as possible to discuss these issues. You can respond to us by replying to Bill Fletcher (
Bill Fletcher, Jr., Co-Chair
Suzanne Scholte, Co-Chair
cc: The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
Ambassador Susan Rice
Ambassador Barbara Leaf
Senators Robert Menendez and James Risch
Representatives Michael McCaul and Gregory Meeks
Note: We sent an appeal to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 29, 2021, requesting that the U.S. Department of State denounce Morocco’s ongoing violent aggression against the Sahrawi population in the illegally occupied Western Sahara, and that the State Department immediately launch an investigation into these ongoing violations of the human rights of the Sahrawis being perpetrated by the Kingdom of Morocco.
Note: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the World Organization Against Torture, Reporters without Borders, and the U.S. State Department have documented the ongoing violence against the Sahrawis in Moroccan occupied Western Sahara. The United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights has reported that Morocco’s human rights violations are a result of the ongoing denial of the Sahrawi’s right to self-determination.