In his analysis, Mustafa Salma emphasized that Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps are divided into three groups, including Algerians from Tindouf.
Rabat – Former Polisario police chief Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud shared an analysis online with historical facts explaining why Morocco’s eastern neighbor continues to refuse allowing a census in Algeria’s Tindouf camps.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Mustafa Salma wrote about how Algeria will always have an element of control over the Western Sahara conflict—which explains its direct involvement in the dispute as a main party.
Algeria has long denied its role in the conflict, describing itself as an observer. In recent months, however, and due to international pressure, Algerian officials started to confess responsibility in the conflict.
Mustafa Salma posted his brief analysis to better explain how Algeria is linked to the conflict.
He said that understanding the situation requires a discussion of two important questions, including why the founders of the Polisario Front called their movement Polisario, meaning the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Oued Eddhab.
The Sahrawi activist, who is now in exile in Mauritania, recalled research he carried out among the founders of the Front and a group of Sahrawi elites.
“I found a logical explanation for the designation of the front, as they defined precisely the region they mean by liberation, which is an understandable explanation,” Mustafa Salma said.
However, the former Polisario member said he did not find a just argument for naming the self-proclaimed group a “Sahrawi state.”
Back to history, Mustafa Salma said that Polisario created itself as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Sakia El Hamra and Oued Eddahab in Zouerate, northern Mauritania, in May 1973 with the aim of freeing the region from Spanish colonialism.
He said the establishment of a “state” was not even a discussion among the founding members of the Polisario Front.
Mustapha Salma said that the decision to create a movement with the aim of expelling Spanish colonizers was independent, unaffected by the regional environment.
The Front then declared the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Republic at the end of February 1976 after the establishment of the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria.
Algeria has since hosted the Polisario-run Tindouf camps, where some 90,000 Sahrawis live in alleged dire conditions.
The number, however, remains an estimation from the UNHCR in the absence of an accurate figure based on an authorized census.
Algeria’s government continues to refuse to allow a census of Sahrawis in the camps amid restricted freedom of movement, high levels of unemployment, and malnutrition.
Mustafa Salma, who consistently opposes Polisario and Algeria, said that “the parameters of the conflict changed, from a war to drive out the Spanish colonialist to a regional conflict between Polisario and Algeria on the one hand, and Morocco and Mauritania on the other over the succession of the colonialist in sovereignty and management of the region.”
Mustafa Salma explained that the regional war broke out without consensus on the parties’ legitimacy.
“There was no one among its parties who possessed full legitimacy.”
He said that Morocco’s case drew on historical legitimacy, while that of Polisario and Algeria was based on “legal legitimacy.”
“The popular legitimacy was divided between the two parties: Some people from the region supported this party and there were those who stood with the opposition.”
The Sahrawi activist argued that Polisario and Algeria chose “SADR” to accommodate everyone who would support the Front’s project.
He said the decision to term it a Sahrawi state came to garner support for its claims.
“The Sahrawi people would become the biggest problem hindering the solution of the Sahara conflict, instead of being the owner of the issue.”
The activist said Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps comprise three groups, including displaced people from the Sakia El-Hamra and Oued Eddahab regions, those who joined them from Tindouf and its suburbs, as well as from Mauritania.
“After half a century, these groups coalesced and became homogeneous under the name of the Sahrawi people, with their different interest to see the conflict end or remain.
“All of them lost their interests in their original regions, except for those who lived on and are still in the Algerian lands. Their country is Algeria, so much so that you find an Algerian parliamentarian with Sahrawi citizenship, and vice-versa.”
Mustafa Salma concluded that these facts are why Algeria openly declared there will be no solution to the Western Sahara conflict without its involvement.
At least one-third of Sahrawis will refuse to leave Algeria regardless of any settlement to the conflict, he said.
“As long as the Sahrawi people continue to struggle, Algeria will continue to struggle until its interests are achieved.”