The former Polisario member said that the delay in the appointment of a replacement to Kohler is “only because Algeria is preoccupied with its internal situation.”
Rabat – Former senior Polisario officer Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud has commented on the adoption of Resolution 2494. The newly adopted resolution extended the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, for one year.
Mustafa Salma, a critic of the Polisario leadership and its violations, said that the Security Council has called for a “realistic, practical, and lasting political solution for the Western Sahara conflict on the basis of consensus.”
He argued that the reason for the extension of MINURSO’s mandate for one year, and the delay in the appointment of a replacement to former Personal Envoy Horst Kohler, is “only because Algeria, the main party [to the conflict] and the first international supporter of the Polisario, is preoccupied with its internal situation.”
Algeria is currently witnessing a political crisis with citizens calling for a complete overhaul of the system, with the removal of the ingrained political elite. Mustafa Salma sees the instability in Algeria as an impediment to the North African country’s involvement in talks on the Western Sahara conflict.
Through his analysis, the former Polisario officer argued that the Security Council’s decisions show that the international community considers “Algeria to be the real party in the political process, not the Polisario Front.”
Mustafa Salma also emphasized the importance of Kohler’s two roundtables. Kohler convened all parties to the conflict in December 2018 and March 2019. The round tables were the first time all the parties had entered into face to face talks since 2012.
Kohler revived the peace process through his roundtables. All of the parties expressed their aspirations, concluding that there is still a glimmer of hope to end the four-decade-long regional dispute. The Security Council expressed satisfaction with Kohler’s mechanism, emphasizing that the incoming emissary should convene the parties into the conflict at a third roundtable.
Ahead of his resignation, Kohler vowed to organize a third roundtable to convene the Polisario Front, Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania for consultations ahead of negotiations.
“Reaffirming the continuation of the roundtable as a mechanism for discussion and negotiation means that there is no solution to the conflict without the Algerian-Moroccan rapprochement.”
Mustafa Salma echoed statements that Morocco has voiced in recent years. For Morocco, the Polisario Front is far from being a legitimate representative for Sahrawis.
The Moroccan government has long called on Algeria to engage as a main party to the conflict since it has been backing, arming, and financing the Polisario Front for the last four decades.
Algeria, however, has been distancing itself from its responsibility, styling itself as merely an observer.
Sahrawis should make practical demands
Mustafa Salma also listed benefits that Algeria can seize through a settlement for the Western Sahara conflict, in addition to achieving the Maghreb Union project.
“A true Maghreb union means solving the issue of Sahara within the framework of an Algerian-Moroccan settlement.”
He added that the Sahara remains under “Morocco’s sovereignty in the form of autonomy.”
What would Algeria benefit from a settlement to the conflict? For Mustafa Salma, “roads linking Algeria to Africa via Tindouf-Laayoune” would be more economically beneficial for Algeria than the Tindouf-Zouerate road, which “Algeria has not benefited from due to lack of rehabilitation.”
Mustafa Salma also shared a message to his fellow Sahrawis, calling on them to make demands that are possible to meet.
“The realism the Security Council called for is a message to Sahrawis to make their demands in compliance to the possible.”
For Mustafa Salma, Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps should free themselves from the “illusion of the Polisario Front leadership.”
He said that Sahrawis should not continue to be fooled by emotional manipulation and propaganda speeches.
He also commented on Polisario’s threatening messages, emphasizing that Sahrawis will “be the biggest losers,” if a war ever happened.