A recent report listed numerous violations the Polisario Front carried out at buffer zones under ceasefire agreements.
Rabat – Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, former Polisario member, has argued that the latest UN report on Western Sahara constitutes a direct validation of Morocco’s diplomatic gains in the dossier.
In his latest Western Sahara report to the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listed over 50 violations by Polisario in the buffer strip. The document emphasized that Polisario has constantly breached the ceasefire agreement and other UN resolutions in Guerguerat and in several other areas in the buffer zone.
For Mustafa Salma, the UN report showed that Morocco has successfully cornered the Polisario Front, increasingly making the group’s aspirations and claims untenable.
He said that the report of the UN chief is clear that no actions violating the status quo in the buffer zone should be acceptable.
Mounting pressure on Polisario and Algeria
He also stressed that it is necessary to allow regular civilian and commercial traffic to proceed in Guerguerat, warning against any illegal moves that breach UN resolutions.
Mustafa Salma said the UN also reiterated warnings and called on Polisario to refrain from transferring facilities to the regions east of the belt.
“It means that Morocco has succeeded to turn the battle of Polisario and Algeria into a battle of the international community,” Mustafa Salma noted. He explained that recent developments — including UN resolutions and reports of intermittent escalations in the buffer strip — have increasingly put pressure on Polisario and Algeria to fully commit to the political process’s demands of realism and compromise.
For Mustafa Salma, the UN chief report “has put Morocco’s finger on the trigger,” allowing it to “expand the defense belt to reach Mauritania territory if the Polisario violates its international obligations.”
Another implication of the recent developments and UN resolutions, the Sahrawi activist explained, is that Algeria can no longer claim to have no direct stakes in the long-standing Western Sahara conflict.
This, according to Salma, means that Polisario will oppose what is clearly stipulated in the UN report report. For the Polisario Front, he argued, recognizing the report would also mean accepting it has no authority outside the camps.
“Algeria, thus, becomes the direct party responsible for the conflict.”
The UN report listed over 50 violations of the Military Agreement No. 1 by the Polisario Front.
According to Gueterres, Polisario regularly denied MINURSO patrols entry to specific areas and sites in the second and fifth military regions.
The UN chief said that the Polisario Front justified its illegal moves by citing social distancing measures against COVID-19.
In addition to freedom of movement violations, Gueteress also cited increased incursion by Polisario’s ‘military forces’ in the buffer zone.
The report said that Morocco’s army regularly expressed concerns over Polisario’s movement inside the buffer strip.
“Most of these communications concerned civilian demonstrators gathering in the buffer strip near Bir Lahlou, which the Royal Moroccan Army considers deliberate provocations aimed at raising tensions in this area,” Guterres said
Also unveiled by the report are “discrepancies between the order of battle and the number of heavy weapons held by the [Polisario Front] units in Agwanit, Bir Lahlou, and Tifariti in the restricted area.”
According to Gueteress, MINURSO observed violations relating to heavy weaponry in January, March, and April 2020. Polisario, however, did not address MINURSO’s requests to refrain from violations in restricted areas.
In response to the report, the Polisario Front condemned what it sees as a stagnating and pro-Morocco political process. The front’s official reaction to the UN report hints at its desire to challenge the status quo by carrying out further illegal moves in the buffer strip.
The “leader” of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Republic, Brahim Ghali, addressed a letter to the UN chief and the president of the Security Council Vassily Nebenzia, saying that the recent report does not “reflect the reality” of the situation in Western Sahara.
Shifting the focus away from Polisario’s violations, Ghali criticized MINURSO and the whole UN-moderated political process. MINURSO has failed to implement “the mandate for which it was established,” in 1991, according to Ghali.
The Polisario Front’s leader also accused MINURSO of becoming “a passive bystander and normalizer of Morocco’s “illegal” actions.