Fifty years in a dead end. This is how Hach Ahmed Baricalla, a former Polisario leader, defines the situation in the Sahara following his decision to leave the movement and sever his ties with it. Following the change, he gave an interview to i24 News in which he explains his vision of the Saharawi crisis and his expectations for the future. His departure comes about because he considers that the liberation process that the Polisario Front is trying to carry out "has been of no use and we do not see the solution to the problem of Western Sahara".
"It is necessary to mark a turning point", says Baricalla, who advocates a peaceful solution, led precisely by the Saharawi Movement for Peace (MSP) founded by himself in 2020. After years of struggle and without any progress on the ground towards a realistic solution, he considers it "much better for the Saharawis to seek a compromise", a "negotiated solution". The former Polisario member for five decades sees the need to coexist with the Kingdom of Morocco in what, he says, is what "common sense dictates". Without renouncing his identity, he is also clear that such an agreement implies concessions on both sides.
Although the movement he founded three years ago has not yet managed to establish direct relations with Rabat, its leader hopes that "a dialogue with the King of Morocco will be possible, or that the movement and its demands will be included in the political process currently conducted or led by the United Nations". One aspect he emphasises is to bet on a reasonable solution, which does not involve "the loss of human lives or great sacrifices on the part of the Saharawi population". Moreover, Hach Ahmed Baricalla is confident that his organisation can bring this message of concord to the entire Saharawi population and unite efforts to achieve a solution in the short term.
However, it does not seem that getting out of this "impasse" that Baricalla speaks of is going to be so easy. Although more and more people see negotiation as the only possible way out of the Saharawi problem, there is still an important sector that refuses to sit down and negotiate with Morocco. On the positive side, the international community is increasingly aligning itself with the Kingdom and supporting the proposal for autonomy for the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty. The United States, Germany and, more recently, Spain are backing Morocco and hope to achieve, as the leader of the Sahrawi Peace Movement explains, the only common sense solution.
In fact, Baricalla himself praised the decision of Pedro Sánchez's government to support the Alawi proposal less than a year ago. The secretary general of the MSP considered that Spain was mired in a 'negative neutrality' and that this 'brave decision' to end neutrality is a wise move, 'the best way to get the Sahara out of the tunnel in which it has been trapped for 47 years'. Although the Polisario Front does not welcome this move, the reality is that Spain's new stance "is generating great hope among the silent majority of the Sahrawi people, who are fed up with living in a dramatic situation for half a century".