Morocco’s foreign ministry affirmed the security operation “took place in a peaceful manner, without clashes or threats to the safety of civilians.”
Rabat – Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces (FAR) released a statement Friday evening to announce that it has “completely secured” the Guerguerat border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania.
For several weeks, Polisario has blocked the movement of people and goods across the Moroccan-Mauritanian border, which is surrounded by a UN-mandated buffer zone.
Not only has the blockade negatively impacted the Mauritanian economy and stranded Moroccan truckers in the desert, it is also a clear violation of the guidelines of MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara.
FAR was able to dismantle Polisario’s blockade on November 13 and restore the flow of civil and commercial traffic by establishing a security cordon at the border post, in accordance with King Mohammed VI’s instructions as Commander in Chief of FAR.
The statement assured that Morocco’s armed forces executed the security operation with respect for clear rules of engagement prescribed to avoid any contact with civilians.
During the operation, the armed militia of the separatist Polisario Front opened fire on Moroccan forces, who retaliated. Polisario fled, but FAR reports no casualties occurred.
“After having taken note of the engagement of the Royal Armed Forces … the militiamen of the Polisario voluntarily set fire to the encampment they had erected” approximately 2.5 kilometers south of the border.
Polisario elements then boarded Jeeps and trucks and retreated east and south, “under the eyes of MINURSO observers,” the FAR statement underlined.
“The El Guerguerat crossing is now completely secured by the establishment of a security cordon, ensuring the flow of goods and people through the passage between the two border posts.”
Moroccan outlet Le360, citing an anonymous government source, reported that FAR constructed a “solid and impassable” 14-kilometer security wall along the border with Mauritania. The wall “has cordoned off and totally isolated” the area along the border and fully secured the Guerguerat crossing and the buffer zone.
Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement Friday evening to affirm the FAR operation “took place in a peaceful manner, without clashes or threats to the safety of civilians.”
“This operation, aimed at putting a definitive end to the unacceptable behavior of the Polisario, comes after giving a diplomatic solution every chance through the good offices of the United Nations,” the statement added.
Many Moroccans feared the region would witness a full-blown conflict after the Polisario Front launched an attack north of Morocco’s defense wall in Mahbes, a settlement in the UN-restricted buffer zone. The act of open hostility constituted a clear violation of the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and Polisario.
However, the official statement from the Moroccan government suggests the clashes are over.
“Morocco remains firmly committed to the preservation of the ceasefire,” the foreign ministry stressed.
“The operation carried out today by the Royal Armed Forces aims precisely at consolidating the ceasefire by preventing the recurrence of such serious and inadmissible acts.” Such actions “violate the military agreement and threaten regional security and stability,” the ministry underlined.