The Saharawi separatists of the Polisario Front announced on Sunday “to break” all contact with the Spanish government of Pedro Sanchez. This announcement comes less than a week after Spain’s decision to side with the Moroccan government on the Western Sahara issue.
“The Polisario Front decides to break off its contacts with the current Spanish government so that it dissociates itself from the instrumentalization of the Sahrawi question within the framework of the lamentable bargaining with the occupier (Moroccan, editor’s note)”, wrote the Polisario in a statement. This rupture will persist until the Spanish government “conforms to the decisions of international legality, which international legality recognizes the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and respect for the borders of their country, which are internationally recognized”.
Spain has shown its support for the Moroccan autonomy plan
Displaying his neutrality so far, the Prime Minister of the former colonial power Spain publicly announced on March 18 his support for the Moroccan autonomy plan, which he now considers “the most serious, realistic and credible basis for the resolution of this dispute”.
Criticized from all sides in Spain, but also by Algiers, main supporter of the Polisario, the Spanish government affirms that it has not changed its position, but only taken “an additional step” in order to contribute to the resolution of the conflict which opposes Morocco to the Polisario Front since the departure of the Spaniards in 1975. The Polisario justified its break with Madrid on “the principle that the Spanish State has responsibilities towards the Saharawi people and the United Nations, being the administering power of the territory, responsibilities which thus remain imprescriptible”.
The migration issue at the heart of the negotiations
For Madrid, the main purpose of restoring relations with Rabat is to ensure its “cooperation” in controlling illegal immigration while Morocco, from where most migrants leave for Spain, has been regularly accused, by many observers, of using them as a means of pressure.
The conflict in Western Sahara, a vast desert area with a very fishy coastline and a phosphate-rich subsoil, considered a “non-autonomous territory” by the UN, has pitted Morocco against the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front for decades. Rabat, which controls nearly 80% of this territory, is proposing an autonomy plan under its sovereignty, while the Polisario is calling for a self-determination referendum, planned by the UN when a ceasefire was signed in 1991. -fire, but never materialized.
The Polisario says it is “in a state of war of self-defense”
The ceasefire was shattered in November 2020 after Moroccan troops deployed to the far south of the territory to dislodge separatists who were blocking the only road to Mauritania, which they said was illegal. Since then, the Polisario says it is “in a state of war of self-defense” and publishes a daily bulletin of its operations.