Morocco garners international support after its Guerguarat move- Crisis Group

Following Morocco’s move to secure once and for all the Guerguarat border crossing with Mauritania, most international reactions have been to Rabat’s favor, wrote Crisis Group, an international conflict prevention NGO.

“Despite Polisario’s mobilization, most international reaction to the events in Western Sahara has either reflected support for a swift return to the ceasefire and/or fallen in line with Morocco’s position,” the NGO wrote.

In a detailed report, Crisis Group recalled the presence of armed men amid Polisario activists who blocked the Guerguarat road. Morocco cleared the road on Nov 13 after a military intervention that restricted the use of arms to self-defense only, ending a three-week blockade by the Polisario militiamen who refused to engage with the UN mission in the Sahara.

The French foreign affairs ministry expressed its concern with the situation, while praising “Morocco’s attachment to the ceasefire”, wrote Crisis Group. The Polisario has also been ambushed diplomatically after it declared its withdrawal from the ceasefire in a bid to distract attention from its internal rifts.

“International reactions to the escalation have mostly been sympathetic to Morocco,” Crisis Group said, adding that the UN Security Council has remained silent.

“Rabat scored a major diplomatic victory on10 December, when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized its sovereignty over Western Sahara,” the NGO stated further.

Despite some bipartisan voices calling for a reversal, the Biden administration may judge it too politically difficult to undo Trump’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, the NGO said, noting that Paris could find in the American announcement an opportunity to relaunch the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as the basis for a permanent solution to the conflict.

The NGO warned however that international neglect of the Sahara issue risks ratcheting up military tensions that have so far remained contained, urging the UN Security Council to act now. “The cost of delaying action is difficult to estimate, but the situation is volatile and could rapidly get worse.”

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