when Polisario intensifies its threats – Jeune Afrique

Is the Polisario Front emerging from its dullness to shift gears in the conflict that is against Morocco? One year after the “events” in Guerguerate and the breach of the ceasefire with the kingdom declared by the Polisario, then, fourteen days later, three Algerian nationals in Bir Lahlou, “victims of Moroccan strikes”, according to the Algerian presidency. , the leadership of the independence movement seems to be pursuing radicalization.

On November 6, King Mohammed VI delivered a speech to the nation on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the Green March, in which the Sovereign confirmed that there was nothing to negotiate about the Sahara. On the same day, Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario, went near the now “famous” locality Bir Lahlou to lead the handover ceremony for his new Chief of Staff Mohamed El Ouali Akeik.

“All goals are legitimate”

If Brahim Ghali then promised an “intensification of hostilities”, his new military chief went further by assessing in the columns of the British newspaper. The Economist, that a “deeper attack” should be “launched on Moroccan territory”.

According to Mohamed El Ouali Akeik, it would be much more “than a simple option” and not “threats in the air” or “bragging”, which clarifies that “companies, consulates, airlines as well as” other sectors are all potential targets “.

Brahim Ghali is betting everything on the most radical wing of Polisario, pressured by Algiers

Then, a few days later, on November 13, the “anniversary” of the events in Guerguerate, Taleb Ammi Deh, commander of the 7th Sahrawi Military Region and member of the General Secretariat of the Polisario, announced a “movement of fighting. Beyond” the Moroccan seat belt before adding that “all air, sea and land targets are legitimate as the territory is at war”. In the process, he asked all foreign companies working in the Sahara – 70 companies in total, including 14 Spanish – to leave the area under penalty of retaliation.

The tone seems to have been set by Algiers: on November 5, in his program “Crisis” broadcast on Al Hayat TV, Mokhtar Mediouni, a retired senior military intelligence officer, called on Polisario to attack Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech, while the Algerian army provided military equipment for the movement, including Russian-made off-road vehicles. Posturing or real turning point in the escalation of tensions between Morocco on the one hand, Polisario and Algeria on the other?

Back in the past

“New? No, it has nothing to do with a break”, confirms Bachir Dkhil, co-founder of Polisario at the time of the fight against the Spanish occupation in the early 1970s, who has since left it. “Brahim Ghali betting all on the most radical wing of Polisario, the pressure of Algiers. It is a return to the first years of the conflict. First SADR [République arabe sahraouie démocratique] undergoing a huge political and institutional crisis. Polisario’s management consists of 100 people, including 20 people who have been playing musical chairs for years. »

Mohamed El Ouali Akeik has already been head of security, in charge of “occupied territories” or even prime minister in 2018, “and already carried out the first operations of economic and human sabotage against Spanish phosphate plants in Laâyoune in 1974,” Bachir Dekhiel stressed. old ideas, in short. “

To sum up, the Polisario Front no longer mobilizes, either internally or internationally, to the point that the “war” with Morocco, as it has claimed for a year, is still not recognized as such by the UN. Worse: it continues to suffer significant losses. On November 14, the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) allegedly neutralized the commander of the 5th Military Region in an attack launched by a drone near the seat belt in Gleibat El Foula. Another violation: Spain’s extradition on 16 November of Fayçal El Belloul, a separatist accused of “inciting murder”, in Morocco on 16 November.

In SADR camps, young people aspire to study abroad or join jihadist groups in the Sahel

In the SADR camps, unity seems to be a distant memory: tribal struggles and sonorous races, young people are more interested in their future than in a political struggle inherited from the Cold War. She strives to either study abroad or leave the camps to join jihadist groups in the Sahel. “The leaders of Polisario are reduced to creating false positions within the leadership to satisfy this or that tribe, to ease the tensions, but it does not work, it is a real bankruptcy,” emphasizes Bachir Dekhiel.

An extremely frustrating stalemate that would pressure the Polisario to “make noise”, on the eve of several important diplomatic meetings: the expected visit of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Sahara, Staffan De Mistura, or again the visit of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, in Morocco on 24 and 25 November, all in a very tense context between the Kingdom and Algeria.

Climbing, how far?

The dynamics are clear: Algiers are pushing Polisario to intensify its military actions against Morocco, giving it in this sense a form of “carte blanche”, while the leaders of SADR expect a stronger involvement of the Algerian power in the conflict. . The aim could be to attract more attention from the UN and to achieve a possible change of direction on its part: fewer concessions to the Moroccan side and the holding of a referendum on self-determination.

It is clear that Algiers is trying to open a breach against Mauritania, which it perceives as a weak state

But “Algeria has no interest in entering into an open, direct and frontal military conflict with Morocco. As for Polisario, it does not have the means to fight FAR, therefore I do not believe in attacks beyond the wall “, assesses Bachir Dekhiel. In the near future, the conflict may open up on several fronts, less directly, and spread geographically. First on the energy front, as evidenced by the cut of the Algerian gas tap in Morocco since early November.

Also on the diplomatic front. “It is clear that Algiers is trying to open a breach against Mauritania, which it perceives as a weak state. We have seen that Algeria tried to involve Mauritania in what happened in Bir Lahlou in early November. The Algerian power will do everything in its power to involve Nouakchott in this conflict and to gain its support, ”Bachir Dekhiel announced. Especially since President Ghazouani of Algiers is considered to be close to Morocco – unlike his predecessor Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz.

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