Subject: Confidential: a take on the UK Sahara position
This is from a highly reliable source but the information is incomplete at best and we cannot therefore express an opinion on its usefulness. We think we should do some more work and see what we can find. This is a report from one of our employees, who’s fiancée –Cameron – is the brother of the person who works on Western Sahara dossier for the UK. We will pursue this issue more to see what we can uncover.
I spoke with Cameron, who was privy to my conversations with his sister regarding UKUN, and wanted to share some further thoughts/clarifications on UK Foreign Policy and the decision making process. Basically, foreign policy comes out of both Whitehall (Civil Service/Foreign Office) and 10 Downing (PM/Cabinet). Whitehall civil servants will develop several policy options that they will then present to the foreign secretary who will decide on what policy option to take. He may or may not consult the PM depending on the issue/precedents for the issue, however he is likely in lock-step with the PM. This is especially the case with Hague and Cameron, as Hague is a former party leader and loyalist, rather than an expert with a serious background in foreign policy. Hague also likes to be presented with a few, simple options from Whitehall according to a recent news article (Cameron is still looking for this). As for the relationship with the UN, based on conversations with Cameron’s sister, who is a first secretary, the staff there merely implements and manages the policy. The only person who may be able to provide more insight on the WS decision-making is the Ambassador to the UN himself, who is also the only person who may possibly have any say on the policy. While civil servants present the options, they are generally in line with overall policy. I apologize that this does not speak specifically to the point of how Sahara policy is guided, but I am afraid I am unable ascertain any more information than Cameron’s sister has already shared with me, given that she only knows so much.
There are two other important things to remember about UK Foreign Policy (as Cameron pointed out – we view things from an American perspective!). First, members of the Cabinet are all elected MPs and then appointed, so they have a bit of a different mandate than our appointed cabinet members. Second, lobbying there does not work as it does here. While there are certainly interest groups, they do not have nearly the amount of money or influence that US groups have – there is no equivalent to K Street. So while there may be strong pro-Polisario advocates, it is unlikely that they wield undue influence, if any at all. It is also possible that there are pro-Polisario civil servants who are helping direct a policy, but the UK stance also makes sense in light of its foreign policy priorities. And I have no indication that the first secretary in charge of the Sahara dossier has pro-Polisario feelings, otherwise I think I would have heard about it. Instead, Cameron’s sister just laughs whenever I ask about anything!
With regard to the human rights decisions at the UN and the general issues we have had with UK papers, below you will find an article that sheds some light on UK foreign policy that has certain relevance to our issue. Cameron seems to think that this has nothing at all to do with the British being pro-Polisario, but rather their insistence on human rights standards and their belief that Morocco can actually reform, as opposed to the other countries in the region. He suggested taking a look at how the UK press judges Jordan to see if there is bias or if there is just a stronger insistence on human rights, democracy, etc. He also thought it wise to point out that UK papers tend to just be more negative in general, if only to be seen as more objective (which I think many people would agree they are). As for the fact that the papers are generally very pessimistic about Morocco, well they are Brits after all…..
Cameron said that he would be more than happy to share anything else that he has gained from conversations with his sister, from reading UK papers, or from being a Brit with interests in foreign policy more generally, but he seemed to think that quite a bit of this could be gained from a few comparisons/searches of the UK Press. END