Rabat - Few days after the Moroccan army vowed to retaliate to any kind of harassment targeting its forces or infrastructure along the Moroccan-Mauritanian borders, the Polisario Front has been conducting military maneuvers near Guerguerat, with live ammunition and heavy equipment received from the Algerian army.
Rabat – Few days after the Moroccan army vowed to retaliate to any kind of harassment targeting its forces or infrastructure along the Moroccan-Mauritanian borders, the Polisario Front has been conducting military maneuvers near Guerguerat, with live ammunition and heavy equipment received from the Algerian army.
In its December 27 issue, Moroccan newspaper Al Massae reported that Polisario militia have been conducting military maneuvers in the presence Algerian military officials. The separatist front stated that this “military parade” was a “special forces” exercise of live ammunition.
According to the Moroccan daily, Algerian generals who attended the event supervised the delivery of heavy machinery and equipment to the separatist front, in fulfillment of what they described as “the absolute support provided by Algeria.”
The parade was an opportunity to study the objectives and plans that would “boost the combat readiness of the units,” as well as to “test the military capabilities of the front against the possibility of war with Morocco,” reported Al Massae.
Polisario’s so-called defense minister was quoted by Al Massae as saying that “the front cannot maintain its refugee state status quo forever.”
“Our armed forces are ready to deal with any “crisis” to do their “duty”,” reported Al Massae.
The Moroccan army has recently vowed to respond to any harassment aimed at its forces. Lieutenant-General Abdelfettah Louarak gave his instructions to El Farouk Belkhir, Major General and Commander of the South Zone, to make arrangements for the deployment of FAR units in the Guerguerat region.
These operations of the Moroccan army will target the regions of Bir Gandouz, Tichla and Aousserd in order to respond to all attempts and provocations from the Polisario.
FAR Inspector General and South Zone Commande held several meetings with senior military officials, in order to deal with the situation. In recent weeks, Mauritanian observers noted suspicious movements of Polisario militias in the Guerguerat region.
Other Mauritanian sources also reported unusual deployments of armed separatist mercenaries north of Mauritania’s border. These sudden movements caught the attention of Major-General El Farouk Belkhir, who ordered military maneuvers and the deployment of FAR units to repel any attempts by the Polisario to change the status quo in the region.
Morocco’s Peaceful Commitment to End Four-Decade Issue
Morocco withdrew its law enforcement officers from the area on February 26 immediately after a statement issued by the UN chief, where he called on “the parties to unconditionally withdraw all armed elements from the buffer stream as soon as possible, to create an environment conducive to a resumption of the dialogue in the context of the political process led by the United Nations.”
The separatist group did not accept the UN’s request until April 30, and continued to harass Moroccan truck drivers in the buffer strip by setting up illegal checkpoints in the area. The Polisario Front also attempted to hinder trade between Morocco and other African countries through illegal checkpoints led by mercenaries proclaiming themselves “National Gendarmerie” of Polisario.
After the continuous refusal of Polisario to withdraw its forces from the region, a draft resolution on the Western Sahara was submitted “in blue” – meaning ready for adoption – to the secretariat of the UN Security Council on Thursday, April 27.
The draft resolution put high pressure on Polisario, urging it to withdraw from the Guerguerat region or face a compulsory withdrawal The Security Council expressed its “deep concern with the continued presence of elements of the Polisario Front in the buffer strip in Guerguerat,” asking for its immediate and “unconditional withdrawal from the region.”
The blue document gave Polisario 30 days to abide by the provisions of the resolution.
Shortly after the UN Security Council submitted its blue document, Polisario started withdrawing its forces from the region on April 30.
Polisario did not back away from the region until April 30 after months of increased tension in the region, which began when armed members of the separatist group started making incursions into the region.