With more countries supporting Morocco in the aftermath of its security operation in Guerguerat, Polisario’s calculated disruption seems to have failed.
The Polisario Front has lost it and is now resorting to rogue, terrorist tactics to score the political points that eluded it on the diplomatic front, an Italian magazine has said.
In a particularly damning analysis of Polisario’s emerging warfare strategy and legitimacy claims over Western Sahara, the Italian magazine Insideover suggested the self-autonomy seeking militant group has worriedly transformed from a Marxist guerrilla to a dangerous “jihadist” group.
Like ISIS, the infamous terrorist group that caused untold desolation in the Levant, terrorized European cities, and is now trying to make a comeback in parts of Africa, Polisario has become a vector of instability and unpredictability, the magazine said.
With its position on Western Sahara — namely a referendum on self-determination — increasingly waning from the limelight in discussions of the dispute, the militant group has become a rogue entity ready to advance its interests by any means necessary.
Mauro Indelicato, the author of the Insideover article, bases his analysis on a video the Polisario leadership recently sent out to call on its supporters and sympathizers to participate in its war effort against Morocco by targeting Moroccans and Moroccan interests.
For Indelicato, the video sounds like a terrorist group calling on its sleeper cells to carry out inconsiderate attacks on anything or anyone considered an enemy of, or a stumbling block to, its supposedly noble cause.
“The video urges people to blow themselves up and hit Moroccan targets. An incitement to violence in full jihadist style that has not gone unnoticed. At stake is in fact the security of a region not far from the Mediterranean,” the Italian journalist writes.
‘A very dangerous precedent’
“This is a very dangerous precedent and an escalation of jihadist terrorism in the region that is very reminiscent of the media strategy of terror perpetuated by Daech in the Middle East and particularly in Europe,” Indelicato continued.
But that’s not all. According to Indelicato, also reminiscent of terrorist groups’ warfare tactics is the Polisario leadership’s documented practice of kidnapping, training, and using children in its war efforts against Morocco.
To the Italian journalist, however, the most frightening development in Polisario’s transformation into a rogue actor has been the group’s links to known terrorist organizations in the Sahelo-Saharan corridor. Marking this trend has been the “jihadist advance” in the Tindouf camps, he wrote.
“Calls for violence confirm a very serious situation in Tindouf. Terrorism is increasingly taking root here. After all, it is precisely between Algeria and the Sahel that the most dangerous variant of African terrorism has been developing for years.”
He cited the case of Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi as an example of the dangerous links between the Polisario leadership and terrorist groups in the Sahel.
A former senior member of the Polisario Front’s armed wing, Walid al-Sahrawi, is now a feared ISIS-linked ringleader in the Sahel. Recently, the US State Department put a a $5 million bounty on the head of Walid al-Sahrawi for his involvement in the death of four US Special Forces in a deadly ambush in Niger.
Insideover’s analysis comes as many other analysts and Western Sahara watchers fear the unpredictable repercussions of the end of a three-decade, UN-negotiated truce in the Western Sahara conflict.
On November 13, a contingent of Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces (FAR) intervened in Guerguerat to lift a Polisario blockade that had been obstructing civilian and commercial traffic between Morocco and Mauritania for three weeks.
But Polisario has since falsely accused Morocco of breaking the 1991 ceasefire. The group has formally declared the end of the ceasefire and vowed to strike back at Morocco’s “brutal attack.”
To many, however, such inflammatory rhetoric and calls for war and revenge are just part of Polisario’s last-ditch, desperate attempt to “create new facts on the ground” and somehow alter the visibly pro-Morocco direction of the ongoing UN-led political process.
But with an increasing cohort of observers putting into disrepute Polisario’s claims and ambitions, and still more countries supporting Morocco’s position, it remains to be seen whether Polisario’s calculated disruption will have the effect the group intended.