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World Sahara: the Polisario bombs an area under Moroccan control, Rabat minimizes

07:15  24 january  2021
07:15  24 january  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Western Sahara , a vast swathe of desert on Africa's Atlantic coast, is a disputed former Spanish colony. Rabat controls 80 percent of the territory, including its The planned referendum has been repeatedly postponed due to disputes between Rabat and the Polisario over voter rolls and the question to be put.

Western Sahara , a vast swathe of desert on Africa's Atlantic coast, is a disputed former Spanish colony. Rabat controls 80 percent of the territory, including its phosphate deposits and its lucrative ocean fisheries. The Polisario 's forces are largely confined to the sparsely populated desert interior and

Le poste-frontière de Guerguerat, sous contrôle marocain © FADEL SENNA The border post of Guerguerat, under Moroccan control

The independence of the Polisario Front bombed on Saturday evening the buffer zone of Guerguerat, in Western Sahara, under Moroccan control, an attack described as a "propaganda war" by Rabat.

"The Saharawi army launched four missiles in the direction of the illegal breach in Guerguerat and its surroundings", the Saharawi press agency SPS indicated in a statement, citing a Saharawi military leader.

The press release also reports attacks along the security wall that separates Sahrawi combatants from Moroccan forces in this desert territory disputed since the departure of the Spanish settlers.

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By "reclaiming" Western Sahara , the king was able to gain momentum and stave off opposition from within. To this day, said Mundy, the recovery of Even since 1991, the conflict with Polisario has seriously disrupted trade, with protesters in the liberated zone-blocking roads that connect Morocco

The Polisario movement campaigning for the independence of the Western Sahara has protested to the Morocco said that its operation in the Gargarate area north of Mauritania's second city Rabat maintains that the Western Sahara is an integral part of Morocco , despite UN resolutions calling for a

According to a senior Moroccan official contacted by AFP in Rabat, "there were harassment shootings near the area of ​​Guerguerat, but this did not affect the road axis, the traffic was not disturbed".

"It has been part of a cycle of harassment for more than three months" and "it has been going on for some time, there is a desire to create a propaganda war, a media war, on the existence of a war in the Sahara ", but" the situation is normal ", he assured.

Carte du Sahara occidental © Adrian LEUNG Map of Western Sahara

In audio recordings circulating on YouTube, testimonies from truckers evoke three or four missile attacks and hearing the bombardments near the gas station at the Guerguerat border post.

One of them said he was very close to the missiles. Another driver specifies that "all the trucks left because they were very afraid".

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Western Sahara is mostly under Morocco ’s control , but tensions with pro-independence Polisario Front remain since 1970s. The United States has adopted a “new official” map of Morocco that includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara , its ambassador to Rabat said.

The 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. Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile.

These testimonies could not be authenticated from an independent source. The senior Moroccan official evokes "a desire to create a propaganda war on the existence of a war in the Sahara".

- "Armed struggle" -

The Polisario says it is "in a state of war of self-defense" since Morocco on November 13 sent troops to the extreme south of the vast territory to drive out a group of Sahrawi independence activists who were blocking the only road to neighboring Mauritania.

Moroccan troops have since remained deployed in the demilitarized zone under the control of the UN interposition force, in order to "secure road traffic" on this commercial axis leading to West Africa

The Polisario, supported by Algeria, contests the legality of this road - qualified as "illegal breach" - contrary according to him to the cease-fire agreement signed in 1991 under the aegis of the UNO.

The question of the status of Western Sahara, considered as a "non-autonomous territory" by the UN in the absence of a final settlement, has for decades opposed Morocco to the Saharawi separatists.

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The Western Sahara region has effectively been split by an earthen wall separating an area controlled by Morocco that it claims as its southern provinces and territory controlled by the Polisario , with a UN-mandated buffer zone between them. Morocco also cut diplomatic ties with Shiite Iran in 2009

RABAT : Morocco announced Friday that its troops had launched an operation in no man's land on the southern border of the Western Sahara to end "provocations" by the pro-independence Polisario Front. Rabat said its troops would "put a stop to the blockade" of trucks travelling between

The Polisario calls for a self-determination referendum planned by the UN, while Morocco, which controls more than two-thirds of this vast desert territory, proposes an autonomy plan under its sovereignty.

The negotiations conducted by the UN and involving Morocco, the Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania have been suspended since March 2019.

The Polisario says it is ready to resume talks but excludes laying down its arms, scalded by 30 years status quo.

"In the past, we have placed all our confidence in the international community and stopped the armed combat definitively. We waited 30 years. Thirty years of broken promises, of procrastination and untenable waiting," lamented this week a senior official of the Saharawi Ministry of Security, Sidi Ould Oukal.

"We are ready to negotiate. We are ready for any mediation. But at the same time, we are maintaining the armed struggle on the basis of past experience," Ould Oukal explained.

For its part, Morocco's position was reinforced by the recognition by outgoing US President Donald Trump of Moroccan sovereignty over the entire disputed territory.

This recognition linked to diplomatic normalization between Morocco and Israel is accompanied by an envelope of three billion dollars (2.4 billion euros) for the "financial and technical support of private investment projects" in Morocco ( including Western Sahara) and sub-Saharan Africa.

amb-sof-agr / ybl

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