Polisario has long relied on “threats” and dramatic statements to cause shock and outrage, in hopes of garnering global support.
Rabat – Calvin Dark, an American strategic communication specialist and political commentator, has said that the recent developments in the Western Sahara dossier boil down to Polisario’s disinformation and calculated escalations strategy.
In an interview with Morocco’s state media, Dark said that conflict and escalations are front and center in Polisario’s plucky underdog tactic. The group seizes global attention by provoking escalations and then portraying itself as a besieged “liberation army” in dire need of sympathy and support.
“The Polisario feeds on conflicts, threats, and instability. Without this, they have no reason to exist,” Dark said.
His comments come amid fears of further escalations in the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.
In the early hours of November 13, Morocco announced that its Royal Armed Forces (FAR) had intervened in Guerguerat to establish a security cordon.
FAR’s operation, which lasted for an hour and did not cause any material or human casualties, aimed to lift a three-week-long Polisario blockade that had been obstructing civil and commercial traffic between Morocco and Mauritania.
Before intervening, Morocco had urged the UN to reason Polisario into a diplomatic solution to the crisis. For three weeks, however, the militant group ignored a string of warnings and appeals from the UN.
With MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, apparently overwhelmed and unable to reason with the Polisario elements in Guerguerat, Rabat finally decided to “assume its responsibility” by launching a “non-offensive” operation to clear the Guerguerat crossing point.
Following Morocco’s response, the Polisario leadership sent out official statements about a “brutal” Moroccan “attack on peaceful Sahrawi civilians.” It also declared the UN-negotiated, 29-year-old ceasefire null and void, accusing Morocco of breaching the truce with its Guerguerat operation.
For Dark, Polisario’s misleading portrayal of FAR’s Guerguerat operation is part of the militant group’s PR strategy. As far as he is concerned, the Guerguerat crisis was another Polisario showdown. He suggested the group has long relied on “threats” and dramatic statements to cause shock and outrage, in hopes of garnering global support for its cause.
“Polisario seeks to attract international attention through threats and escalation,” he argued.
Dark also pointed out that Algeria, whose media have taken center stage in broadcasting Polisario’s claims of what happened in Guerguerat, is a central player in the ongoing showdown.
“It is quite clear that Algeria is not an innocent bystander in this decades-old conflict—Algeria is at the heart of it. Without Algeria, the Polisario would not be a viable movement and there would be no conflict,” he said.