On Friday, Morocco announced it launched
an operation to end what it called “serious provocations” by the
Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed movement which for decades has called for
regional independence in Western Sahara.
Tensions mounting for three weeks
between Morocco and the Polisario Front precipitated in Rabat’s operation on
the southern Guerguerat border crossing, as a result of the group’s barring
entry of Moroccan trucks from passing into neighboring Mauritania.
“In the face of serious and
unacceptable provocations by the Polisario militia, in the buffer zone of
Guerguerat in the Moroccan Sahara, Morocco decided to act in full respect for
the powers vested in it,” the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a
The ministry underlined that Morocco
had “no other choice but to assume its responsibilities in order to put an
end to the state of obstruction resulting from these movements and re-establish
freedom of civil and commercial movement.”
Following the statement, the Moroccan
army declared that the use of force at Guerguerat would be limited to
“This operation has no aggressive
intentions and is based on avoiding any contact with civilians and not
resorting to using weapons except in the case of legitimate defense,” the
army said, adding that it had set up a security belt to secure the flow of
goods and people through the terminal.
Following the army’s intervention,
members of the Polisario Front withdrew from the border crossing, a source at
the Moroccan Foreign Ministry told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due
to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The source added that the operation had
been carried out “without bloodshed or casualties”.
Since last Oct. 21, members of the
Polisario Front have obstructed the passage of Moroccan trucks into Mauritania.
Occupied by Spain until 1975, Western
Sahara — a large territory in southern Morocco — has remained the subject of
dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front for more than
After years of conflict, the two
parties signed a UN-backed cease-fire in 1991.
Polisario, a national liberation
movement that seeks to end Morocco’s existence in Western Sahara, has long
called for a popular referendum to determine the political fate of the country.