Polisario Willing to Negotiate with Morocco, Algeria Not Interested

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Abdelkader Taleb Omar

Rabat – Following Kohler’s call to resume negotiations on Western Sahara, Polisario confirmed its readiness to engage with Morocco while Algeria is silent.

The Polisario Front “reaffirms its readiness to fully engage into negotiations with Morocco, in accordance with the UN Security Council’s resolution 2414,” said Abdelkader Taleb Omar, ambassador of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Republic to Algeria on Sunday, August 12.

Horst Kohler, the UN secretary-general’s personal envoy for Western Sahara, gave the UN Security Council a briefing on the situation in Western Sahara on Wednesday, August 8.

At the briefing, Kohler called on the parties in the conflict—Morocco and the Polisario Front—as well as neighboring states such as Algeria to resume negotiations to find a mutually agreed upon and mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara conflict.

The majority of the council members also invited Kohler to continue his efforts to push concerned parties to reach a final resolution to the forty-year conflict.

Omar affirmed that Polisario is committed to cooperate with Kohler, praising the UN personal envoy’s efforts for “a just and fair solution guaranteeing the right of Sahrawi people to self-determination,” Sahara Press Service (SPS) reported yesterday August 13.

The Sahrawi representative also called the UN Security Council to “assume its responsibility in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and to ensure the respect for Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination.”

Algeria not willing to be part of the negotiations

The Security Council stressed the need for Algeria to contribute to the political process and to engage further in the negotiations as stipulated in the council’s Resolution 2414 of April 27, 2018.

Morocco has continually called on Algeria to engage in the negotiations and insisted that Algiers must be part of a solution to the regional conflict since it is the fundamental supporter of the Polisario Front.

However, Algeria has not yet officially expressed its willingness to take part in negotiations over Western Sahara. On the contrary, Algeria’s government officials have maintained their position to refrain from joining the negotiation process.

In mid-April, Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said in a statement that “Moroccans want to make Algeria a part” of the Western Sahara issue, but he claimed the solution lies between Morocco and Polisario, not Algeria.

On April 4, King Mohammed VI sent a letter to the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, calling for Algeria to fully engage in the ongoing Sahara issue.

“It is Algeria that hosts, arms, backs up, and brings diplomatic support for the Polisario,” said the King in his letter, which Morocco’s foreign minister delivered to the UNSG in New York.

Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelkader Messahel made a similar statement a week before Ouyahia’s, when television channel France 24 asked him about his opinion on the King’s letter.

Messahel reaffirmed Algeria’s position refusing to sit at the negotiating table, a position he said would not change.

Negotiations on the conflict have always been between “the Polisario representatives and Morocco, it will not change,” Messahel claimed. “It is a case between Morocco and the Sahrawi people, and between Morocco and the decisions of the United Nations.”

Later in April, a source at the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Algeria’s support of the Sahrawi people and its legitimate representative, the Polisario Front, does not mean that it should be involved in negotiations,” according to a statement by Algeria Press Service (APS).

A founding member of the Polisario Front who quitted the front in 1990, Bachir Dhkil, said in an interview on August 9 that “Algeria should come to the negotiation table and help find a solution to the conflict it created in the first place.”

Dhkil deemed Algeria “responsible for the genesis and the escalation of the Western Sahara question.” Dhkil asserted that the neighboring country “not only trains and finances the Polisario Front, but it also gets in the way whenever there are peace talks and prospects of a peaceful settlement.”

Morocco’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, told Moroccan media that negotiations over the Western Sahara conflict without the participation of Algeria will be a “waste of time.”

While insisting that Algeria must engage in future negotiations, Hilale stressed that Morocco “is definitely not ready for negotiations with a party [Polisario] that has no authority, no independence, and no power to make decisions on its own.”