On November 24th, Morocco’s Armed Forces have cleared access to the Guerguerat border post, reinforcing positions it took this month to protect the only road leading from Western Sahara to Mauritania.
The kingdom in early November accused the Algeria-backed Polisario Front movement of blocking the key highway for trade with the rest of Africa.
It launched a military operation to reopen it before deploying heavy machinery in the buffer zone at Guerguerat.
Morocco retains its military positions on the ground, and is not pushing further inward.
That is in line with Moroccan King Mohamed VI’s orders to secure the area, ensure the flow of traffic and stop any Polisario incursions, a senior government official said in Rabat.
Polisario Front, however, said that the 30-year-long truce is over, and the war has been renewed.
According to analysts, the clashes show that the Polisario Front is frustrated with the 30-year-long status quo.
The group, mainly backed by Algeria, has long demanded a referendum on independence in the territory as provided for by a 1991 UN Security Council resolution.
Morocco has offered autonomy but insists it will keep sovereignty over the former Spanish colony.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the United Nations Secretary General confirmed on November 24th the continuation of hostilities in Western Sahara, calling for the elimination of all obstacles to the resumption of the political process.
We also continue to receive reports of sporadic gunfire, and this along the northern and eastern parts of the Moroccan sand wall,” he told a press briefing, in the moment when Morocco continues to downplay the scale of clashes in El Guerguarat, southwest of Western Sahara.
Dujarric said that “these incidents took place mainly during the night,” adding the United Nations Mission for the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara (Minurso), is still present across the Sahrawi territory, including El Guerguerat.
“They (members of the mission) obviously continue to monitor the situation,” he said.
“The Mission obviously continues to be in contact with all relevant stakeholders, and our message continues to make it clear that the parties must take all necessary measures to defuse tensions, eliminate all obstacles to the resumption of the political process,” the spokesman of the UN chief added.
The Polisario Front claims it has the upper hand in the fighting.
“So far, despite Moroccan attempts to downplay the gravity of the situation, intensive military clashes between the Sahrawi military and the Moroccan occupying forces continue along the illegal Moroccan military wall, which has already caused human and material losses,” affirmed the Polisario Front.
The Moroccan army, whose morale is at the lowest, according to military experts, has suffered numerous losses in equipment and human lives, according to the Sahrawi army.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Polisario Front Continues Pushing Morocco’s Wall, With No End Of Hostilities In Sight (Map Update)
- War Started In Western Sahara