Several Mauritanian news outlets, feeling the strain on the West African country’s economy, welcomed Morocco’s intervention in the Guerguerat blockade.
Rabat – Media outlets in Mauritania were quick to report on Morocco’s mobilization in Guerguerat on Friday. With its northern neighbor finally stepping in to end the Polisario Front’s blockade of cross-border traffic, Mauritania is enjoying a long-awaited sigh of relief.
On Friday evening, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces (FAR) announced it had “completely secured” the Guerguerat border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania and terminated Polisario’s blockade, which cut off supplies to Mauritanian markets.
Several Mauritanian news outlets, feeling the strain on the economy, welcomed Morocco’s intervention. Several framed it as a restoration of freedom of movement even before FAR reported its success.
Newspaper Al Wiam said FAR’s actions not only support the resumption of economic activities in the region but are also “humanitarian” in nature. The same newspaper also commended Morocco’s careful, non-hostile approach to the situation, noting FAR avoided contact with civilians.
Mauritanian outlet Anbaa said social media users in the country collectively welcomed the professionalism of the Moroccan army for reopening the Guerguerat border crossing without any casualties. The site also reported that Mauritanian markets immediately felt the effects of FAR’s intervention.
Some outlets such as Aqlame are contemplating future scenarios, arguing that Mauritania must also step up to secure its borders.
In the event of military hostilities between Morocco and Polisario, Mauritania must ensure it can block any infiltration by Polisario elements. The same outlet, however, said it is fair to effectively rule out any military conflict.
Aqlame noted the imbalance in military power between Morocco and Polisario, adding that Algeria will hesitate to aid the separatist movement given its own domestic crises and ailing president.
Although Morocco and Mauritania enjoy warm diplomatic relations, the latter posits itself as a “neutral” party to the dispute over Western Sahara and has therefore remained relatively silent amid Polisario’s infractions in the UN-monitored buffer zone.
However, Polisario’s blockade of the Guerguerat border crossing finally pushed the country to respond, in part due to the disruption in supplies to Mauritanian markets, particularly agricultural goods.
A high-ranking Mauritanian official speaking anonymously to Middle East Online said on Wednesday that “the army has strengthened its positions along the border” with Morocco.
The official did not provide specifics on the number of deployed forces but stressed that his country has the right “to protect ourselves and impose our neutrality” in the conflict between Morocco and Polisario.
Mauritania’s official news agency on Friday afternoon called on Morocco and Polisario to show restraint as reports of escalations swirled. The agency has yet to comment on FAR’s successful securing of the Guerguerat border crossing.