Wide Angle

The Polisario storms a buffer zone and Morocco sends reinforcement troops to the Sahara

Once again, the Polisario is sending its armed elements to the buffer zone. The separatist movement is now present in four buffer zones, namely Mahbes, Tifarity, Gueguerate and Bir Lahlou, breaking the arrangement set up in 1976 under the auspices of the United Nations.

Polisario militiamen enters the buffer zone near the security wall./Ph. Archive photo
Estimated read time: 1'

The Polisario has quickly reacted to the joint meeting attended by Foreign Affairs Committees of both parliament chambers in Morocco. «This afternoon, armed elements from the Front have entered the buffer zone, located near the security wall in the Assa Zag region, using military trucks», a source told Yabiladi on Sunday.

«They set up a military encampment and started digging trenches and barricaded behind sandboxes».

This step comes only three days after a similar operation that has taken place near the Mahbes area, another buffer zone, where 14 militiamen erected two tents 1km away from where the Moroccan soldiers are based.

Reinforcement troops sent to the Sahara

The Front's incursion has raised tension in the region and the risk of using weapons is not to be excluded. This option was highlighted today by Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit during the joint meeting held in the parliament, especially if the UN does not intervene to convince the Polisario of withdrawing from the buffer zone.

«The Front has set up camps in Tifarity, Mahbes and Bir Lahlou and is planning to expand, reaching Gueguerate. This is a clear violation of the ceasefire reached in September 1991. Strangely, the MINURSO mission and the UN have not reacted yet to this offence», said the same source.

«Linking words and deeds, reinforcement troops from the Royal Armed Forces are currently in the Sahara and they are ready to take actions when the orders are given».

Nevertheless, the kingdom still favors the diplomatic choice. «A letter will be sent in the upcoming hours to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to explain the violations committed by the Polisario in the four buffer zones,» said the same source. A way for Rabat to remind the UN of its responsibility regarding the 1991 ceasefire.

This strategy followed by Morocco had been fruitful in 2017 during the Guerguerate crisis.