Polisario urges Morocco to put pressure on wave of migrants – expat guide in Spain
The Polisario Front, which seeks an independent Western Sahara, urged global bodies on Friday to pressure Morocco over its use of migration as a lever in the conflict over the territory.
An unprecedented 8,000 people swam or took boats from Morocco in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta earlier this week, following tensions over Madrid’s decision to host and treat the Polisario leader for Covid- 19.
Analysts said Rabat authorized the incident in order to pressure Madrid to follow a US decision by former President Donald Trump to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The Polisario published its first official reaction to the Ceuta incident on Friday.
“We urgently call on the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union to force Rabat to stop the aggression” and “the illegal annexation and occupation of Western Sahara” by Rabat, the ministry said. Self-proclaimed Foreign Affairs of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
In a statement, he said that Rabat’s “aggressiveness” towards Spain was a response to “the international community’s rejection of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara”.
Morocco had wrongly “relied … on certain member countries” of the EU to endorse Trump’s statement, he continued.
Morocco claimed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony with rich phosphate resources and offshore fisheries, after Spain’s withdrawal in 1975.
But the Polisario Front took up arms to claim its independence, proclaiming the SADR in 1976 and waging a 16-year war with Morocco.
A UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991 let each side control part of the territory, but never resulted in a long-awaited referendum on its status.
Rabat refuses to accept any vote in which full independence is an option, offering autonomy instead.
The truce has failed in recent months, fueled by the Trump administration in December backing Morocco’s claim to territory in return for Rabat normalizing relations with Israel, and Morocco killing Polisario police chief Addah al-Bendir , during an alleged drone attack in April.
Spain’s decision to welcome Polisario leader Brahim Ghali for treatment for Covid-19 has infuriated Rabat, which is a key partner in the EU’s fight against illegal migration.
Spain maintains that a solution to the problem can only come from an agreement negotiated by the United Nations.
In a radio interview on Wednesday, Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said Madrid “cannot” change its position because Spain “respects international law”.