Western Sahara … Shooting between Moroccan forces and the Polisario, east of the security fence
Yesterday, the Moroccan forces said that they had responded to gunfire from the Polisario Front along the security wall in Western Sahara; for its part, the front said that it had bombed Moroccan military sites along the line separating the two parties’ control areas, and this escalation came after the intervention of the Moroccan army, last Friday. To reopen the Guerguerat border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania, which was closed by the Front’s supporters.
The Moroccan official news agency reported yesterday that the Moroccan army destroyed a Polisario weapons-carrying mechanism east of the security wall in the disputed Sahara region between the two parties in response to a shooting by the Polisario.
The same agency quoted the Royal Armed Forces Forum on Facebook that since last Friday, the Polisario forces “have carried out provocations by firing along the security fence, without causing any human or material damage to the ranks of the Moroccan army.”
On the other hand, Agence France-Presse quoted a Polisario leader as saying that “fighting continues in an escalating fashion” between the Front fighters and the Moroccan army in the far south of the Sahara region, without providing details.
Mohamed Salem Ould Salik, the “foreign minister” of the SADR – not internationally recognized – added that the front had recruited thousands of volunteers to join its fighters in response to the military operation that Morocco carried out to reopen the Guerguerat crossing, which Polisario supporters closed for more than 3 weeks.
On Saturday, the Front announced that it was no longer committed to the ceasefire agreement it reached with Morocco in 1991, under the auspices of the United Nations. After that, the Polisario said that it had attacked Moroccan sites along with different parts of the front line that extends hundreds of kilometers across Western Sahara.
Al-Jazeera correspondent at the Mauritanian-Moroccan border, Baba Ould Harma, said that residents of the border regions in Mauritania talk of hearing heavy artillery shelling during the night hours. The correspondent added that planes belonging to the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) are closely monitoring what is going on in the tension zone, and the Mauritanian army has intensified its presence along the border strip with the areas under the control of the Polisario.
Al-Jazeera correspondent in Morocco reported that dozens of commercial trucks crossed the Guerguerat border crossing in both directions for the second day in a row after the crossing returned to its activities after an operation by the Moroccan army last Friday, during which the road was opened, which was closed by Polisario supporters backed by armed elements.
And the Moroccan army constructed a wall and a security belt to secure the connecting road between the border crossings of Morocco and Mauritania.
The closure of Guerguerat crossing had paralyzed the movement of goods and individuals. It hindered the active trade movement between Morocco and Europe on the one hand, and between Mauritania and the countries of western Africa on the other hand.
On the other hand, the Commissioner for Security and Foreign Policies of the European Union, Josep Borrell, in a telephone conversation with both the Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and his Algerian counterpart, Sabri Boukadoum, expressed his hope that discussions would quickly resume under the leadership of the United Nations to appoint a new envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the Sahara, Borrell also called in particular for the preservation of freedom of movement and trade across borders in the Guerguerat region, and its great influence on the Maghreb and Sahel region.
The European official stressed that a political solution to the Sahara issue is necessary to strengthen regional cooperation between the countries of the Maghreb and achieve stability, security, and prosperity in the region, especially in light of the current economic difficulties of the Corona pandemic.
For his part, the Moroccan Foreign Minister assured the European official of his country’s commitment to respecting the ceasefire.
It is noteworthy that the conflict in Western Sahara is one of the oldest conflicts in Africa, as Morocco regained the Sahara from Spanish colonialism in 1975, so that the Polisario Front was established one year later, and it took up arms to demand the secession of the region rich in fish and phosphates, and it is believed that it has oil deposits, and all efforts have failed Peace led by the United Nations; But it succeeded in enforcing the ceasefire agreement in 1991.
Morocco proposes autonomy for the territory under Moroccan sovereignty. However, the Polisario Front – an abbreviated name for “the Popular Front for the Liberation of Sakia El Hamra and the Valley of Gold” – and Algeria are calling for a complete secession from Morocco.
Source : Al Jazeera + agencies