Rabat – Four months into the UN’s deafening silence on the prospects of its Western Sahara agenda after the show’s main performer threw in the towel, Western Sahara is once again the notable absentee in UN Security Council’s scheduled meetings for September.As the UNSC announced its September schedule, the talking points for the upcoming security discussions do not feature the Western Sahara conflict. The glaring omission will likely revive circulating suggestions about the visible stasis that has set in among UN diplomatic circles and informed Western Sahara observers since the untimely resignation of Horst Kohler as personal envoy.Included in the UNSC’ schedule for September are security concerns as varied as the Libyan crisis, the Syrian predicament, and the global migration crisis and related topics such as human trafficking, among other global security challenges. The lingering Western Sahara conflict, one of the most complex territorial disputes to date, was conspicuous only by its absence from the schedule. The only possible, vague and arcane reference to Western Sahara is perhaps the agenda for a September 26 press briefing: “Peace and Security in Africa: Partnership to maintain regional peace and security.” At best, and provided the press briefing manages to circuitously touch upon Western Sahara, this reads more like a face-saving move, so telling a is the sidelining of Western Sahara-linked discussions just a month before the expiry date of the UN Peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO).Read Also: Western Sahara and Alhurra TV’s Affront to the Moroccan PeopleWhile the omission is not particularly a cause for prolonged contention or wild speculations, as is often the case in this multilayered dispute, the news comes at an emotionally charged conjuncture in the progress of the UN-led negotiations. A major setbackLast May, Kohler surprisingly resigned from his post as the UN Secretary General’s personal envoy for Western Sahara. Among Western Sahara observers of different—sometimes exclusive—political and ideological persuasions, Kohler’s two-year tenure was largely seen as a notable success. In convincing all the four parties, especially Algeria and Mauritania, to be full-throated participants in the political process, Kohler helped gather a momentum that has escaped other UN envoys in almost three decades. Even for a territorial dispute as historically tangled and geopolitically convoluted as the Western Sahara case, there was palpable hope that it was only a matter of time before the Kohler-moderated process achieved something the international community has failed to even come close to imagining for over a decade.Read Also: Western Sahara: Everything You Should Know About Morocco’s Autonomy PlanWhere a number of his predecessors—James Baker and Christopher Ross, for example—came across as biased and favoring one side of the conflict, Kohler successfully gained the trust of all the parties. Or at least that was largely the impression, particularly buttressed by the series of the recently held Geneva meetings.On multiple occasions, either in his written reports to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres or in press statements from his office, Kohler repeatedly made it clear that the point of the settlement process was to devise a working formula for a mutually acceptable and politically negotiated solution. As a result, words and concepts such as realism, pragmatism, political feasibility, and compromise-based solution, emerged as the founding principles of the UN-led process under the German diplomat. “There is no doubt that Kohler’s sudden departure is a major setback for the UN political process to help the parties to the conflict to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution,” MWN’s editor-in-chief Samir Bennis wrote in May amid the what-is-next-saturated speculations after Kohler announced his resignation. Bennis continued, this time throwing in an even more pertinent observation: “Kohler breathed new life into the political process and thanks to his charisma and his gravitas, he enjoyed the relative trust of all parties. With his resignation, the political process is likely to return to square one. As an immediate result, it is likely that there will be no roundtables until early next year or even later.”Who will replace Kohler?Beyond Kohler’s formally announced reasons for resigning (his health conditions), there have been alternative suggestions for why the German “really left” amid perceived momentum. But for all the resulting contention, more often than not informed by observers’ stance on the Western Sahara dossier, a resounding agreement among observers has been that, for better or worse, replacing Kohler is set to be a pain in the neck for the UN-led process. Read Also: Western Sahara: What Horst Kohler’s Resignation Means for the Political ProcessA direct consequence of Kohler’s resignation, some specialists recently told Moroccan outlet le 360, is that the UN’s agenda will not feature Western Sahara until October of this year, when the UNSC will once again meet to deliver on whether to renew the mandate of MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara. “The past 100 days have seen a breakdown in this [Western Sahara] matter,” political scientist Mustapha Sehimi told le 360. “There is a crisis of perspective.”Questions abound as MINURSO’s mandate reaches its end. Who will replace Kohler? Will Kohler’s replacement be an American or a European? Or should UNSG Guterres appoint an African or Asian diplomat as his personal envoy? Amid this uncertainty, there seems to emerge a picture of “back to square one” or even “business as usual,” giving the known ideologized voting, or the alliance-inspired politicking during UNSC proceedings. By all perceptible evidence, maintaining the momentum Kohler achieved in two years will prove an even more daunting task for the next personal envoy than was the case when the German diplomat took over what mostly looked like mission impossible, a doomed and hostility-beset dossier with scant hope of resolution in at least a decade.
Rocscience and GroundProbe have launched a collaboration between their industry-leading software systems, to provide greater value to the global geotechnical community, the two companies said.As part of Rocscience’s new release of its slope stability programmes, Slide3 and RS3, deformation output from any of GroundProbe’s Slope Stability Radars or lasers systems can be imported into the programmes.This data can then be automatically visualised with the geotechnical model, inclusive of Factor of Safety heatmaps and Probability of Failure models.Users of GroundProbe’s SSR Viewer software will be able to import Slide3’s 3D failure model as a layer, allowing the model to be overlayed with real-time deformation data, in addition with the Factor of Safety maps.“This is an innovative step and industry first, with the exchange of data being two-ways between the systems,” said Lachlan Campbell, GroundProbe’s VP Marketing and Innovation.“Having the data flowing two-ways between a geotechnical modelling package and a geotechnical monitoring package means engineers can perform a deep-dive analysis in either software.“A user could verify their geotechnical model assumptions with the radar data overlaid in Slide3, whilst another could be using the geotechnical model in a real-time monitoring system to see the spatial changes in deformation over time.”As announced by Rocscience, the partnership between GroundProbe and it will benefit both companies as well as the wider geotechnical engineer community by allowing for the readily accessible exchange of data between software platforms.Rocscience said the collaboration between companies and software systems will enable geotechnical engineers to analyse and solve problems more effectively by allowing for the direct comparison of modelling and monitoring data on a single display.Rocscience specialises in developing both 2D and 3D software for use by geotechnical engineers across the civil and mining industries.Slide3, their 3D geotechnical modelling package (formerly “Slide³”) was first introduced in 2017.The Slide3 platform allows geotechnical engineers to calculate the factor of safety of complex 3D slope stability geometries that 2D models cannot fully simulate. It also allows for the modelling of advanced geometries like landslides, MSE walls, slopes supported by soil nails, and more.With Slide3, users can calculate failures in any direction without the need for defining the direction in advance, increasing efficiency in modelling and analysis.GroundProbe is a leader in the development and supply of advanced technology solutions to the mining and civil industries. SSR-Viewer is the common software across all GroundProbe monitoring solutions.It processes the complex data that our systems collect and makes it easily understood, allowing its users to view movement, understand when it becomes a problem and predict the time of failure.The partnership between the two companies, and the integration between their software packages, gives geotechnical engineers around the globe the most sophisticated of slope stability analysis tools.