By Bryn Miller
By Bryn Miller
Rabat – Algerian leadership and the Moroccan press have responded to the death and funeral of Mohamed Abdulaziz in conflicting ways.
Abdelaziz died on May 31 after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was the leader of the Polisario front, the Algerian-backed group that has conducted an armed struggle against Morocco for control over the Western Sahara region since the 1970s.
Abdelaziz was born near Marrakesh and studied in Agadir and Rabat and led the Polisario front for 40 years. His funeral took place in Tindouf province, the westernmost region of Algeria that borders Morocco.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sent his foreign minister to Abdelaziz’s military funeral with a letter to the temporary head of the Polisario front, Khatri Aldoh.
Bouteflika wrote, “It is a great misfortune that has struck the brotherly Saharawi people… by the death of combatant and activist Mohamed Abdelaziz, Secretary General of the Polisario Front.” The letter also claimed that Mohamed Abdelaziz was a “fighter for the Saharawi cause” and that his death should be a motivation for the Saharawi people to continue their “struggle for victory”.
The Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Alyoum wrote that the presence of the Algerian foreign minister at the funeral and his statements, in the language of diplomacy and international relations, are “direct and explicit declaration[s] of war.” Akhbar Alyoum noted that tensions between the two nations, especially in the wake of Abdelaziz’s funeral, remain high.
Many Moroccan and foreign analysts have highlighted that the situation will not improve under Abdelaziz’s successor since the Polisario’s future leader will doubtlessly work alongside Algeria’s foreign policy agenda towards Morocco.