Morocco Responds to Polisario Provocations in Guerguerat with More Development Projects

Moroccan military personnel in Guerguerat in February 2015

Rabat – In response to separatist provocations over recent months, Morocco is moving to strengthen its presence in Guerguerat, an area between Morocco and Mauritania which Polisario views as part of its self-styled state.

According to Maghreb Intelligence, even if the move did not come with the traditionally triumphant announcements that have characterized the media offensives and counter offensives in the Western Sahara dispute, it was Rabat’s direct rejoinder to recent provocations from the separatist Polisario Front.

Citing “sources close to the dossier,” the outlet explained Morocco’s move as a subtle riposte to Brahim Ghali’s recent call on Tindouf camps refugees to prepare for an “inevitable” armed confrontation with Morocco.

“Despite Brahim Ghali’s gesticulations,” Maghreb Intelligence headlined, “Morocco continues to strengthen its presence in Guerguerat.”
But, the piece goes on to establish, Rabat’s response is not merely a military-minded move.

In addition to increasing its military personnel in the region, Rabat is planning social housing construction projects for the benefit of both the additional military contingent to be deployed and the local population in the area.

The riposte is a two-armed move aimed at highlighting both Morocco’s readiness to counter any attacks from the Polisario Front, while also showcasing the colossal investments in improving living standards in the area.

According to Maghreb Intelligence’s sources, the contracts for completing the two projects—building social housing for both the Moroccan military personnel and local populations—have been awarded to local companies. This will also result in creating jobs in the construction sector for the duration of the projects.

In his call for war late last month, the Polisario leader argued that Morocco has had the upper hand in political settlement negotiations over the past years. “Morocco is unyielding because they know they have the support of great powers,” Ghali said.

Meanwhile, increasingly appearing to have shifted the focus of its actions in the region from military presence to more social welfare-minded plans and proactive public diplomacy, Morocco has heavily invested in development projects in the region in recent years.

This has resulted in an increasing wave of support for Morocco’s stance, with recent reports pointing to an almost overwhelming consensus over Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the most “credible” and “serious” pathway to a lasting settlement.