Rabat - The Polisario’s retreat from the buffer zone in the region of Guerguerat, as reported by the United Nation’s Kim Bloduc on Saturday, marks a diplomatic victory for Morocco.
Rabat – The Polisario’s retreat from the buffer zone in the region of Guerguerat, as reported by the United Nation’s Kim Bloduc on Saturday, marks a diplomatic victory for Morocco.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara (SRSG) and Head of MINURSO, Kim Bloduc, broke the news to Morocco officials in a phone call to the kingdom’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, on Saturday.
Morocco’s chief diplomat was holding a meeting with a group of journalists when he received Bloduc’s call.
The Polisario’s withdrawal from Guerguerat comes after months of increased tension in the region which resulted when armed members of the separatist group started making incursions into the region. They claimed their intervention was a response to a Moroccan operation, launched in August 2016, to clear the buffer zone along the border with Mauritania.
The area turned into a no man’s land beyond the Moroccan security wall where drugs and arms trafficking flourished, as well as threats of terrorist activities.
MINURSO and Mauritania had been notified of Morocco’s plans to secure the area. Morocco warned on several occasions that the Polisario’s military presence threatened stability in the region.
In February, King Mohamed VI ordered a unilateral withdrawal of Moroccan forces from Guerguart. The Polisario, on the other hand, maintained the presence of its armed elements, despite calls from United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for them to withdraw.
The group’s complete withdrawal, as announced by Kim Bloduc on Saturday, is seen by Morocco as a diplomatic defeat for the Polisario and Algeria, the group’s sponsor and main ally.