US space agency NASA includes Western Sahara in 'undivided' Morocco map

US space agency NASA includes Western Sahara in 'undivided' Morocco map
2 min read
24 January, 2022
NASA included the disputed territory Western Sahara in a recently released map of Morocco.
NASA's map of Morocco, including the disputed Western Sahara [NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, and Lauren Dauphin using VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE, GIBS/Worldview, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)]

US space agency NASA has published an "undivided" map of Morocco, including the disputed territory Western Sahara as part of the kingdom, according to reports this week.

The move was seen as a step towards President Joe Biden's administration formally reconfirming US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.

Former President Donald Trump made a proclamation in December 2020 saying that Washington formally recognised Morocco's claims over the territory. This coincided with Morocco's controversial normalisation with key US ally Israel.

NASA used several maps of Morocco lacking the thin line border that represents the situation in Western Sahara according to UN-approved maps of the kingdom.

The US State Department also published an undivided map of Morocco at the start of this year, confirming Washington's unchanged pro-Moroccan position.

Western Sahara has been rocked by a 46-years conflict in the former Spanish colony between the Morocco and the Algerian-backed separatist movement Polisario Front.

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In December 2020, Morocco normalised ties with Israel in exchange for US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the former Spanish colony, according to reports, the last major foreign policy movement of the Trump administration.

The new maps have extinguished doubts about rumours the US might abandon the Moroccan side on the issue, mainly after an US embassy project in the territory was cancelled.

Moroccan political experts say Biden's indecision on the Western Sahara conflict delayed the normalisation process between Rabat and Tel Aviv.