CEN-SAD's support for Morocco’s intervention in Guerguerat attests to the threat the Polisario Front poses to the region.
Rabat – The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) affirmed on Saturday its support for Morocco’s decision to end Polisario’s blockade of the Guerguerat border crossing.
CEN-SAD is a regional economic community that aims to promote free trade and free movement among its 29 member states, including Morocco.
The community said it was following “with great concern” the latest developments in the UN buffer zone along the Moroccan-Mauritanian border, where Polisario militants staged a three-week-long blockade of the key Guerguerat crossing.
The illegal blockade stranded 200 Moroccan truck drivers in Mauritania and choked off essential supplies such as agricultural goods to the West African country.
Late on November 12, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces (FAR) mobilized towards Guerguerat to establish a security cordon to restore the flow of people and goods. Polisario interpreted the move as a declaration of war and announced the end of the ceasefire on November 14.
In its press release, CEN-SAD expressed its support for the measures Rabat took and will take in the future “in full sovereignty and in full compliance with international law to restore and preserve the security and free movement of people and goods, in the dynamics of the [The African Continental Free Trade Area].”
The community “strongly deplored [Polisario’s] transgressions of Resolutions 2414/2018 and 2440/2018” and welcomed “Morocco’s attachment … to the peace process led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”
CEN-SAD urged the United Nations — which failed to persuade Polisario to leave the buffer zone, pushing Morocco to intervene — to continue diplomatic efforts towards a final settlement of this crisis.
The Sahel-Saharan states’ support for Morocco’s intervention in Guerguerat attests to the threat the Polisario Front poses to the region.
Already suffering from instability caused by terrorism, drug trafficking, and armed conflict, the Sahel faces further turmoil should Polisario’s maneuvers continue to go unchecked.
Since 1973, the militant Polisario Front has espoused separatism and demanded an independent state in Morocco’s Western Sahara region, which borders Mauritania and Algeria.
Yet if there is any lesson to learn from the Tindouf refugee camps, Polisario leadership would only drive the Sahel deeper into crisis.
The Polisario Front controls the Tindouf camps in western Algeria, where it infringes on human rights such as the freedoms of speech, movement, and assembly; sells humanitarian aid on the black market; and embezzles funds to purchase arms and support lavish lifestyles for its leaders.
International observers have condemned Polisario’s arbitrary arrests and executions in the Tindouf camps. Polisario also restricts the movement of UN human rights observers and refuses to allow a census of the camps.
In an already fragile region, where Morocco acts as an essential stabilizing force, Polisario’s declaration of war and blatant disregard for international law threatens to upend CEN-SAD’s aspirations for peace and unity.