Bourita said Morocco initially restrained from reacting to Polisario’s provocations, not out of weakness but rather due to the country’s respect for multilateralism.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita reiterated the country’s attachment to the ceasefire with Polisario in Guerguerat.
In an interview with the Parliament Magazine, Bourita stressed that Morocco also reserves the right to react with the “greatest severity” against any threat to its security or citizens.
The interview with the European outlet comes nearly a month after Morocco’s decision to respond to Polisario’s illegal actions in Guerguerat. The separatist group sent militias to the region, part of the UN-monitored buffer zone, causing a serious blockade of the Guerguerat border crossing from October 21 to November 13.
After the UN failed to compel Polisario to leave the region, Morocco sent the Royal Armed Forces to establish a security cordon and restore civil and commercial traffic.
Polisario responded to Morocco’s non-offensive operation by declaring “war” and announcing the collapse of the 1991 UN ceasefire.
Bourita commented on the impact of the possible collapse of the ceasefire, saying that Polisario militias have repeatedly carried out illegal acts since 2016, especially in Guerguerat and east of Morocco’s defense wall.
The acts violated agreements and UN resolutions, Bourita said, but Morocco maintained its commitment to regional peace.
“Last month, these militias took the decision to further intensify their disregard for international law by blocking the movement of goods and people between Europe and West Africa, via Morocco [through] El Guerguerat,” Bourita explained.
The foreign minister said Morocco showed extreme restraint not out of “weakness, but rather because it is a responsible actor who promotes multilateral and institutional treatment of issues of strategic importance” to the region.
He said that Morocco worked with UN Secretary-General and members of the Security Council through direct engagement to put an end to the “bellicose behavior of the militias of the ‘Polisario.’”
After the UN’s failed attempts to end Polisario’s provocations, Morocco decided to act within its rights, Bourita said.
“This non-offensive operation without any bellicose intention, was carried out according to rules of ‘clear commitment, to restore free movement,’” he underlined.
Bourita also recalled the security challenges in the Sahara and Sahel, including terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking.
“The Kingdom has always advocated a multidimensional approach to face the multiple security, humanitarian and environmental challenges facing the Sahel region,” he said.
The North African country reiterated its appeal, emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation to address common challenges, including border management in the fight against terrorism and the protection of territorial integrity.
Recalling some of Rabat’s approaches to tackling extremism, Bourita spoke about Morocco’s imam training program.
“We have chosen to also focus our actions on the religious aspect, in particular through a complete training program for imams for the benefit of several partner countries in the Sahel and the promotion of ‘moderate Sunni Islam,’” he explained to the European magazine.
Bourita said Morocco’s approach to religious cooperation has earned widespread recognition from the international community and serves as a model for religious partnership with other countries in the region.