Morocco launches military operations in western Sahara

Morocco launches military operations in western Sahara
he Moroccan military has intervened in a U.N.-patrolled border zone in the disputed Western Sahara to clear a key road it said was being blockaded for weeks by supporters of the pro-independence Polisario Front.

(African Stand) — The Moroccan army confirmed in a statement on Friday: “The Royal Armed Forces had, on Thursday night, deployed a security belt in order to secure the flow of goods and personnel through the buffer zone of Guerguerat.”

The statement announced: “This decision followed the blockade of the crossing point by about 60 persons under the supervision of armed Polisario elements, in the road axis that intersects the buffer zone and Guerguerat area, linking the Kingdom of Morocco to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which led to prohibiting the right of passage.”

“This non-offensive operation, without any combat intent, is conducted according to clear rules of engagement that require avoiding any contact with civilian persons and using weapons only in self-defence,” the army’s statement read.

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry issued a statement indicating: “In light of the serious and unacceptable provocations of the Polisario militia at the Guerguerat buffer zone, Morocco decided to act, in full respect of its jurisdiction.”

“After Morocco has abided by utmost restraint, it has had no choice but to assume its responsibilities to put an end to the obstruction caused by these moves and re-establish civil and commercial freedom of movement,” the statement added.

The statement further affirmed: “Morocco decided to act in accordance with its powers by virtue of its duties and full compliance with international legitimacy,” blaming the Polisario Front alone for the consequences of the current situation.

The statement highlighted that since 2016, the Polisario Front has doubled down on these intolerable and dangerous acts in the buffer zone, in violation of military agreements and defiance of calls made by the UN secretary-general, and in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, in particular, Resolution 2414 and Resolution 2440, which ordered the Polisario Front to “put an end” to “these destabilising actions”.

The statement stressed: “The Kingdom of Morocco immediately alerted and reports regularly these extremely dangerous developments to the UN secretary-general and senior UN officials,” indicating that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)’s mission was a witness to all these violations.

The statement added that Rabat gave: “All the necessary time to proceed with the good faith mediation of the UN secretary-general and MINURSO’s mission to persuade the Polisario Front to refrain from destabilising the region and leave the buffer zone in Guerguerat.”

The statement expressed regret that: “The appeals made by MINURSO and the UN secretary-general, as members of the UN Security Council, did not succeed to end the crisis, unfortunately.”

The Polisario Front confirmed in a statement that Morocco carried out a military operation at the level of three points of the buffer zone, adding that armed confrontations took place between the two parties.

There are fears that these clashes will develop into a war, following the suspension of the ceasefire agreement signed between the two parties in 1991.

The Polisario Front demands full independence, while Morocco offers an autonomous rule under its supervision. Thus, the UN has not yet succeeded in reconciling the two parties.

Hassan Juma

Written by Hassan Juma

Hassan Juma is an international reporter who graduated with a degree from The United States International University where he majored in Journalism and International Relations and he is currently working for African Stand as a senior reporter covering the Middle East, US, Asia, and Europe.

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