The statements from the senior Algerian official reassert Algeria’s central role in the Western Sahara conflict.
Echorouk Online published on Wednesday an interview with a senior Algerian official who requested anonymity to speak about the recent developments in Guerguerat.
The official’s statements stood in stark contrast with Algiers’ repeated claims that the solution to the Sahara conflict should be discussed between Morocco and the Polisario Front.
Algeria’s government has been turning a blind eye on Polisario’s provocations in UN-restricted areas, only singling Morocco’s actions to falsely accuse Rabat of breaking the 1991 truce by “attacking peaceful Sahrawi” demonstrators in Guerguerat.
On the night of November 12, Morocco’s government mobilized its army in the region in response to Polisario’s maneuvers in the buffer zone. Since October 21, a group of Polisario elements had been blocking a vital crossing point for goods and people in the Guerguerat buffer zone.
By its third week, the Polisario blockade had left 200 truck drivers stuck in the region for over weeks, disrupting trade between Morocco, Mauritania, and a sizable part of West Africa.
No solution without Algeria
Algerian foreign policy has been professing hostility towards Morocco for decades, while embracing — and hiding behind — its “observer” position in the Western Sahara dossier.
According to the senior Algerian source, however, Algeria’s real position on the Saha conflict is an open secret.
While the Algerian government continues to strongly deny its responsibility in the Western Sahara conflict, the anonymous source acknowledges the country’s centrality in the dispute.
The lingering crisis in Western Sahara cannot be sustainably resolved without his country’s involvement as a main party, the official stressed. “It is impossible to reach any solution to the conflict, and under any form, without the direct participation of Algeria as a main party.”
They also added, however, that it is highly unlikely that Algeria will accept any initiative in the coming months and years. The official described Algeria as an “observer” that is seriously affected by the Sahara conflict due to the security challenges in the region.
Solving the Sahara crisis “requires [Algeria’s] its effective presence at the negotiation table between Morocco and Polisario,” the source said.
Such statements from a high-ranked Algerian source completely contradicts Algeria’s traditional position.
Algerian officials have long claimed that their country has no substantial stakes in the Sahara conflict and the solution to the decades-long crisis should only be discussed between Polisario and Morocco.
But while claiming neutrality Algiers continues to host, arm, and finance Polisario.
The country also identifies Polisario as a legitimate party that represents Sahrawis, in defiance to the UN-led political process that requires the involvement of all parties, including Mauritania and Algeria.
The recently-adopted resolution on Western Sahara called on all parties to engage in the process to contribute to finding a political solution for Western Sahara.
In October, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2548, citing Algeria five times. In fact, this has been the case since 2017. For many analysts, the trend is part of the post-2007 momentum in the UN-led political process for Western Sahara.
In 2007, Morocco proposed its widely applauded Autonomy Plan whose invocation of a compromise-based, realistic, and pragmatic solution has since become the faultline in UN discussions about Western Sahara.
For Morocco, the latest resolution, like others that preceded it, carries a message of clarity that emphasizes Algeria’s central role in the protocol process.
Earlier this month, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said that prior to 2017 the Security Council’s resolutions for Western Sahara did not mention Algeria at all.
“No political process is conceivable without the effective and constructive involvement of this country,” Bourita stressed.