Former French PM: Polisario Active in Trafficking Arms, Drugs, Humans

Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

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Rabat – Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday that the Polisario Front presents a keen threat to the Sahel region, given its involvement in the trafficking of arms, drugs, and humans. 

The guest of a program on the Spanish channel “Antena3,” Valls spoke of Podemos, a party in the Spanish coalition government, and its position on the Sahara dispute. 

He described Podemos’ pro-Polisario affinity as “irresponsible,” arguing that the separatists are “involved in the trafficking of arms, human beings, and drugs in the Sahel region.”

Valls, who served as France’s prime minister from 2014-2016 under president Francois Hollande, called on Spain’s government to “be responsible and up to the challenges facing the country and Europe.”

Morocco, he continued, is an important ally for Europe as it faces the “great” challenge of terrorism and jihadism.

“We have thousands of radicalized people in our countries,” he underlined. “For this reason, we need the collaboration of African countries, particularly Morocco.”

Read also: DGST: Morocco Prevented ‘Hundreds’ of Terrorist Attacks Since 2002

The Polisario Front reentered international debate after it breached the 29-year-long ceasefire with Morocco on November 13. Polisario’s aggression came in response to a non-offensive security operation by the Moroccan armed forces in Guerguerat. 

Polisario militias staged a blockade of civil and commercial traffic at the Guerguerat border crossing, a vital route for trade between Morocco and the rest of Africa, on October 21.

When the UN failed to end the disturbance, Morocco acted to establish a security cordon at the border post and resume the flow of goods and people across the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.

Morocco’s security operation and Polisario’s breaching of the ceasefire and claims of “war” brought the Front back into international media. But while Polisario hoped to garner international sympathy for its “revolutionary” cause, the militant front is falling even further from the limited grace to which it had clung.

More and more countries and top officials are backing Rabat and condemning Polisario not only for the Guerguerat blockade and breach of the ceasefire but for its years-long violations of international law in the Tindouf refugee camps. 

Members of the European Parliament and top officials across the globe are sounding the alarm on the militant Front’s control over the Tindouf camps, where residents suffer a lack of basic freedoms and human rights. 

Read also: Spanish Diplomat Warns of Polisario Militia’s Growing Terrorist Ideology

Morocco, meanwhile, is enjoying direct support for its position in Western Sahara from African and Arab allies, as well as words of encouragement from Europe, where leaders are increasingly aware of the value of strong ties with the North African powerhouse.

Morocco is a force to be reckoned with in the Mediterranean basin in terms of its economic development and political stability, which fuel a strong security apparatus that fights terrorism, extremism, and irregular migration at home and abroad.  

As European powers continue to face threats of extremism at home, spillovers from an unstable Sahel constitute a pressing concern. With Morocco strengthening its position as a regional leader and stabilizing force, the militant and war-mongering Polisario Front appears set to continue to lose favor.