Polisario Front threatens to take up arms against Morocco

Polisario Front threatens to take up arms against Morocco
The Western Sahara independence movement has been dismissed by Morocco's leaders, but anger prevails.
2 min read
11 November, 2014
The Polisario fought an unsuccessful war for independence [AFP]

The Western Sahara's Polisario Front independence movement has threatened to take up arms against Morocco, after King Mohammed VI stated: "The Western Sahara will always remain under Moroccan rule."

The Western Sahara War began in 1975, and was fought between Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro, commonly known as The Polisario Front. Fighting began when Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 in a move that was not internationally recognised. Fighting ended in 1991 with a UN-monitored ceasefire.

"We have no choice but to return to armed struggle," the Front's designated foreign minister, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, told Algeria's APS news agency.

     We have no choice but to return to armed struggle.
- Mohamed Salem Ould Salek

Salek said that the people of the Western Sahara, known as Sahrawi, had been forced into the situation by a lack of international action.

"The Polisario is still committed to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict," he added.

The king's speech came on the 39th anniversary of the Green March, a mass demonstration organised in November 1975 to liberate Western Sahara from Spanish colonialism.

"The Western Sahara autonomy proposal is the most the kingdom can offer to solve the solution," he said, referring to a deal that would see some powers devolved to regional leaders.

The Polisario Front, however, has already rejected the proposal.

An official in the Moroccan foreign ministry dismissed the Front's statement. "The Polisario makes the same empty threats every time the Sahara conflict is being drowned out by regional events," he told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Mustafa Bendalo is an academic and specialist on the Western Sahara. "The Polisario made the same threats a few months ago without carrying them out," he said. "They are testing the reaction of Morocco and the international community, and also Algeria, which has previously backed the group."

The Western Sahara dispute is the main point of conflict between Algeria and Morocco, whose border has been closed for two decades. Thousands of Sahrawis have been living in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, near the Moroccan border, since 1975.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.