Political Solution to Sahara Issue Hinges on Morocco-Algeria Direct Talks

One cannot continue to play by the same rules and expect different results. Since it put forth an autonomy plan, Morocco has engaged in UN-brokered negotiations with the Polisario to no avail. Before that the referendum option, now considered obsolete and unfeasible, has been discarded in view of irreconcilable differences over who should vote.

With the new call for new direct talks between the parties to the conflict, Morocco and the Security Council are aware that if negotiations have to start again then a more positive role should be played by Algeria.

Resolution 2414, clearly states that Algeria as a neighboring country should cooperate with the UN and the parties to achieve progress towards a political solution.

Such calls usually fall on deaf ears in Algeria. The Algerian regime has turned the Sahara issue into a doctrine and flouted neighborliness by hosting, arming and backing diplomatically a separatist militia that wreak havoc in the region.

Algeria, keen to have an outlet into the Atlantic Ocean, has hosted and armed the Polisario separatists in the early 1970s and pushed them to declare “an independent republic”. It used its oil mantra to buy support for the phony entity at the Organization of the African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union, in a cold war context.

The fortified wall spared Morocco the hit and run attacks inherent to the guerrilla warfare waged by the Polisario, which used the Algerian territories as a rear base.

During the era of Hassan II, Morocco refused to engage in talks with the Polisario maintaining that Algeria is the real party to the conflict.

However, in a sign of good will Morocco submitted the autonomy initiative as a maximum compromise to settle the issue. The move was welcomed by the international community as a serious and credible option.

The autonomy initiative was thought to offer a basis for solving the dispute, but Algeria and its mentors reject it while insisting on the obsolete and unfeasible referendum option causing a stalemate in negotiations.

Today, despite its depleting reserves and the impending social and economic crisis it faces, Algeria continues to generously fund and arm the Polisario to the detriment of its own population.

Algeria backs the Polisario in diplomatic fora and emboldens its actions with lavish military aid in order to distract attention from Morocco’s recent inroads at the African level.

It is therefore a waste of time to negotiate with the Polisario in the absence of the real party to the conflict Algeria. After all, Polisario diplomats and officials are on Algerian payroll and receive Algerian passports.

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