Rabat – Parties represented at the roundtable held on December 5-6 in Geneva showed initiative to engage further in similar talks that will possibly lead to the negotiations needed to find an agreed on and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
Observers and analysts, however, expressed doubts over whether Algeria will finally admit its role in the conflict.
While the UN called on all four parties to the conflict to work constructively with UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Horst Kohler, Algerian media, including TSA, insists that the roundtable meeting merely concerned Morocco and Polisario, with the participation of Mauritania and Algeria.
When referring to the roundtable, the news outlet described it as simply being “between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which is attended by Mauritania and Algeria,” thus minimizing the role they play as a party to the conflict.
Sahrawis, including former Polisario members, are aware of Algeria’s role in the four-decade long conflict.
Sahrawi activist and Polisario critic Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud has condemned Algeria’s ignorance regarding the issues Sahrawis face in Tindouf camps.
The former Polisario member also called on Algeria to shoulder its responsibility in the UN-led political process.
Mustafa Salma shared his concerns with Morocco World News, posing a question to Bouteflika’s government: “In their opinion, what is the solution? referring to the Western Sahara conflict and the struggle of Sahrawis in Tindouf Camps.
Independence of Western Sahara is Unfair to Morocco
“What is Algeria’s proposal as the world is demanding a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict?” asked Salma.
The activist, who is known for his criticism towards Algeria and Polisario, also lambasted the former head of the Algerian foreign affairs committee of the national assembly, Ibrahim Boulahia.
On Wednesday, during a live broadcast on Al Hurra television channel, Boulahia repeated his country’s claims that the Western Sahara conflict should be solved between Morocco and Polisario.
Invited to the broadcast, Western Sahara expert Samir Bennis argued that while Algeria denies its role in the conflict, the eastern neighbor arms, and hosts Sahrawis.
Bennis emphasized the unbearable living conditions in the Tindouf camps, where thousands of Sahrawis are held captive.
Commenting on Bennis’ statement, Boulahia asked: “how could it be possible for a country to incarcerate more than 60,000 or 70,000 of Sahrawis?”
Criticizing Boulahia’s argument, Mustafa Salma: “what is [Algeria’s] proposal, knowing that the independence of [Western Sahara] will damage the interests of 40 million Moroccan.”
He added, “Is it reasonable to satisfy 60,000 or 70.000 thousand at the expense of 40 million? This is unfair.” According to Salma, Morocco is accepting to engage in further talks to confirm its firm position that it will never accept a solution that would damage its territorial integrity project. Morocco, for Salma, is “open to all proposals that would satisfy everyone.”
But, Algeria is not making an effort to end the conflict. Salma concluded his statement to Morocco World News with a rhetorical question “What does Algeria want from Morocco?” referring to its unwillingness to cooperate and engage in the frank and a direct dialogue needed to end the conflict.
Kohler is wise enough to keep tension at minimum
Following Geneva’s roundtable of talks, Salma said that Kohler has been “smart” to reduce tension between the parties to the conflict.
In a Facebook post, Salma expressed his disappointment over the outcomes of the first roundtable held between the parties to the conflict since 2012.
The activist also doubted that Kohler will find a solution to the conflict, although the former President of Germany knows how to calm the tension over the conflict.
Kohler created the idea of a roundtable that brings the parties together under one roof. Salma added that “The roundtable was also created with an ideal timing to avoid the pressure of the Security Council and the headache of the parties.”.
At the end of the roundtable in Geneva yesterday, Kohler expressed his intention to invite the parties to the conflict to a meeting in the first three months next year.
He confirmed that all parties are positive about the prospective invitation for further talks. Kohler also said that a “peaceful” solution to the Western Sahara conflict is “possible.”
Commenting on Kohler’s roundtable plan, Salma said that “the idea of a roundtable seeks to make us forget about April’s meetings,” referring to the Security Council meeting to adopt UN resolutions for the conflict.
“Kohler invented the idea of a roundtable to convene the concerned parties in what it seems to be negotiations- which meet the expectations of the Maghreb peoples, and whose leaders attended,” argued Salma.
According to Mustafa Salma, the UN’s roundtables and meetings represent a policy of distraction.
“When we will get bored [by the roundtable idea] as we did about April’s meetings, the international community will think, without hesitation, of inventing another formula that will distract us until we firmly realize that the solution is in our hands.”