UN Fears a Full-blown War in Sahara

UN Fears a Full-blown War in Sahara

The UN has voiced fears over a full-blown war in the Sahara after the Polisario sent armed militiamen to the buffer zone in the border area of Guergarat standing at a distance of 120 meters from Moroccan forces near the border area of Guerguarat.

Tensions have flared in the area after the Polisario sent troops to the buffer strip near Guerguarat where Morocco was paving a road after a police operation against smugglers in the area.

“The situation remains tense in the Guergarat area” said the UN Spokersman Stephane Dujarric, adding that “any resumption of hostilities, with the potential to have wider regional implications, remains of significant concern to the UN.”

The UN is “actively engaging with the parties and key member states to urge restraint and identify options for an acceptable solution to the current crisis,” Dujarric said.

The Polisario protested against the security operation launched by the Moroccan police and customs authorities against smugglers who turned the area of Guergarat to a venue for engaging in all sorts of illegal cross-border commercial activities.

Morocco’s crackdown on smugglers came after reports of a potential trafficking by separatists of an arms cargo into the southern provinces where they intended to undermine public order. Hence the fury of the Polisario leaders who have been accused by several international reports of connivance with trafficking networks and terrorist organizations in the region as well as embezzling humanitarian aid.

Earlier in August, the UN mission to the Sahara, MINURSO, has refuted the Polisario’s failed attempt to portray Morocco’s security operation as a breach of the ceasefire saying that the anti-smuggling operation in Guergarat had a police character and was undertaken in coordination with the UN.

MINURSO was established in 1991 after a ceasefire ended a war that broke out in a Cold War context when Morocco retrieved the southern provinces from Spanish colonialism in 1975. A number of communist countries supported the separatist Polisario front, which has been using Algerian territories as a rear base for its guerilla warfare against Morocco.

In 2007, Morocco put forward the autonomy initiative after the organization of a referendum proved to be unfeasible in view of disagreements over who is eligible to vote. Morocco offers the autonomy initiative, which has been internationally endorsed as a credible solution, as a basis for negotiations. The autonomy plan offers the Sahara exclusive powers with regards to managing local affairs within the framework of Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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