How will Algeria deal with growing divisions among Polisario militias?
After armed clashes between militiamen loyal to former defense minister and those faithful to current ailing Polisario leader Brahim Ghali, a recent audio leak shows the magnitude of divisions and despair within the Polisario-run camps of Tindouf over Algeria’s manipulation of the separatist militia.
In the leaked audio message to his followers, Bachir Mustafa Sayed, a Polisario leader, said Algeria pushed the Polisario to practice banditry in the Guerguarat border crossing, which was closed in 2020 by the separatist armed men until it was reopened in November the same year once and for all by the Moroccan armed forces, allowing for the return of the free and peaceful flow of goods and passengers.
Sayed ranted at the Polisario’s utter defeat and the ensuing diplomatic blow it received, but instead of blaming Algeria he blamed the ailing Polisario leader Brahim Ghali, who was flown recently to South Africa for medical treatment.
The open criticism to Ghali suggests that his days at the helm of Algeria’s proxy separatist militia are numbered as contenders make their case by arms and by outspoken criticism, ignoring that the next Polisario leader is a decision for Algerian military junta to make.
Sayid message however reflects the state of dismay and despair within the camps at the successive military and diplomatic blows dealt to the Polisario on the back of resounding Moroccan inroads, from the US recognition of its territorial sovereignty over the Sahara to the continuing opening of consulates in the Saharan cities.
The Polisario leadership “is unable to assume its responsibilities over the political and military failures that followed the Guerguarat operation,” Sayid told his followers.
For nearly two years, Algeria and Polisario media unleashed a pathetic propaganda campaign speaking daily of an imaginary war and bombardment that went ignored by the global public opinion.
Two years on, SIPRI released a report on current armed conflicts that does not mention the Sahara region.
Meanwhile, Morocco reaps benefits of its multi-pronged strategy to defend its sovereignty over the territory. At the military and security levels, the Sahara and its urban centers remain the most peaceful in the whole Sahel-Sahara region.
Economically, Morocco is about to complete its 7 billion investment program to upgrade the territory’s infrastructure and attractiveness to investors.
Diplomatically, former colonial power Spain backed Morocco’s territorial integrity and autonomy plan, echoing the US, a position that had a domino effect on many other countries.
Morocco has won at the social, economic, diplomatic and military fronts. It is just waiting for Algeria and its creation the Polisario to realize that.