Over the years, a number of security analysts have maintained that a Morocco-governed autonomous Western Sahara is the best bet for stability in the region.
Rabat – Petitioners at the UN 4th Committee have highlighted what they call “dangerous links” between the Polisario Front and terrorist groups seeking to wreak havoc in the Sahelo-Saharan region, according to reports.
Speaking about the longstanding stalemate in Western Sahara, a number of petitioners, international security experts were keen to suggest that security threats in the disputed Western Sahara territories are likely to increase should the separatist front get the territorial control it seeks.
Irina Tsukerman, a New York-based human rights specialist and security analyst who has traveled to Western Sahara for field research, detailed a concerning picture of terrorist infiltration in Polisario ranks.
“In December 2018, I interviewed several former Polisario prisoners and relatives of former inmates based in Dakhla. Through their accounts, I learned not only about the extreme abuses they had endured during their imprisonment, notably brutal torture, but also about the security problems associated with collusion between the Polisario and the main international terrorist organizations,” Tsukerman said.
She also noted the existence of “tunnels dug in the Tindouf camps by an international terrorist group, in full view of all.” According to Tsukerman, the tunnels are often used to transport weapons and combatants who regularly travel to the Polisario-administered territories to train Polisario fighters.
Other petitioners, echoing Tsukerman’s sticking points, mentioned the proliferation of a wide-range of “illicit activities” in the region. They mostly warned against the smuggling of arms and drugs.
“Military organizations such as Hezbollah have established training camps in the Tindouf camps in southwest Algeria and are constantly seeking to recruit desperate and vulnerable youth from these camps for terrorist purposes, smuggling, and drug and human trafficking,” said Susan Ashcraft, a former special agent of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The news is set to come as a further blow to the Polisario Front’s campaign to win the support of the international community for its statehood aspirations in Western Sahara.
In addition to the reports of the growing feeling among UN diplomats that Morocco’s autonomy proposal is the most viable option out of the decades-long deadlock in Western Sahara, Polisario’s stance has been weakened by the group’s perceived links with groups like Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, among others.
Over the years, a number of security analysts have maintained that a Morocco-governed autonomous Western Sahara is the best bet against the region’s many security risks.
In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner in May of last year, following Morocco’s diplomatic spat with Iran (Rabat was accusing the Islamic Republic of sponsoring Hezbollah’s presence in Western Sahara), Michael Rubbin called on the US and the international community to support Morocco’s Western Sahara agenda.
Describing Polisario as the “prostitutes of global terrorism,” he concluded that supporting separatism in the disputed territory would be akin to leaving the entire region at the mercy of a coalition of terrorist groups.