While Algeria continues to deny responsibility in the conflict, Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s government misses no opportunity to conduct hostile maneuvers to challenge Morocco’s sovereignty over the region.
Moroccan academic Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Gain shared a new analysis in “Sahara Debate,” a citizen-run show broadcast on social media, to discuss Algeria’s responsibility in the regional dispute.
Gain, who is also the president of the African Institute for Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation, slammed Algeria for its continuous hostile maneuvers against Morocco’s territorial integrity.
Despite its denial, the country arms, finances, and shelters Polisario-run camps, in which thousands of Sahrawis live in uncertainty regarding their fate.
For Gain, Algeria created Polisario.
The conflict scholar said, “Algeria provides the separatists with political, military, and financial support, in addition to mobilizing its entire diplomatic machinery in support of the separatist theses.”
“By continuing to defend at all costs the worn-out, fanciful option of the referendum, Algeria not only is responsible for the persistence of this regional dispute, but also contributes to regional instability,” Dr. Gain added.
Algeria’s support for the Polisario Front constitutes a threat to regional stability for many reasons, several observers have been arguing.
One main argued reason is the lack of security cooperation due to regional conflict, making the Sahel region a breeding ground for terrorism.
Morocco’s security services managed to identify 100 Polisario members who joined ISIS, officials reported in 2017.
Morocco has been calling on Algeria not only to engage in the UN-led political process as a main party to the conflict, but also to help fight the scourge of terrorism in the region.
Algeria says ‘no’ to cooperation
Algeria did not only refuse security cooperation but also denies Morocco’s calls for turning a “new page.” King Mohammed VI called on Algeria to involve itself in direct talks with Morocco twice recently, aiming to break the stalemate.
Instead of opening its arms for cooperation, Algeria prefers to continue to support Polisario’s independence claims and its desire for a referendum.
Gain recalled that the UN Security Council, as well the international community, have “ruled out the referendum option since 2001, calling instead the parties to the conflict to make progress towards achieving a realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution” based on compromise.
Gain emphasized that Morocco’s Autonomy Plan remains the only realistic political solution to end the conflict as it promotes reconciliation, development, and good governance in the region.
On the other hand, the referendum claim promoted by Algeria and Polisario is not only “unrealistic but also sows division and instability in the region,” Gain said.
The academic also questioned the “real motives” behind Algeria’s support and its claims to be a “defender of the rights of peoples” in the Western Sahara conflict, “while the Algerians’ mobilization for democracy and social justice started a year ago shows no sign of abating.”
Polisario is not a legitimate representative
Gain supports the vision of many international observers who believe Polisario does not have the credibility to be a “legitimate” representative for Sahrawis, whose alleged dire living conditions frequently make international headlines and continue to prompt the convening of panels to address human rights violations in the Tindouf camps.
“As a sign of the vacuity of the claims of the ‘polisario’ to representativeness, the EU Court of Justice has rejected the action mounted by this armed group against the renewal of the Morocco-EU Fisheries and Agricultural Agreements on grounds of ‘lack of standing,’” Gain said.
He explained that activists in the Tindouf camps actively challenge the claim to “representativeness of this armed group.”
Several activists and former Polisario Front members, such as Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, have been criticizing the group and Algeria for human rights violations committed against Sahrawis.
“In their quest for freedom, the populations of the Tindouf camps find themselves confronted with the ferocious repression of ‘polisario,’” Gain said.
Recently, Sahrawi activist Khalid Zeroual addressed a letter to the president of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, to condemn the malnutrition and water shortage in the Tindouf camps, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
Last week on the same program, the lawyer condemned Algeria’s hostile approach, which challenges Morocco’s sovereignty.