The Saharawi group ends 2022 with several challenges that will be addressed at the next congress in January

Fracasos diplomáticos y divisiones internas, los dos principales problemas del Polisario

photo_camera REUTERS/BORJA SUAREZ - Brahim Ghali attends a public event in the Sahrawi refugee camp of Boujdour

The Polisario Front ends the year with several open fronts that will be addressed at the next congress to be held in early 2023. Among these challenges, recent diplomatic failures and internal divisions stand out.

Earlier this month, a delegation from the Sahrawi organisation travelled to Russia with the aim of seeking financial and military backing. However, Moscow chose to express its neutrality towards the conflict in Western Sahara. As the Kremlin stressed after the meeting - headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bodganov and a member of the Polisario secretariat, Khatri Addouh - Russia advocates a "mutually acceptable solution within the framework of the United Nations". In this sense, according to Al-Arab, Moscow no longer sees the Polisario in the same way as Algeria does. The Arabic daily also refers to the ties between Morocco and Russia.


The two countries maintain strategic relations in order to protect their interests. For this reason, Morocco refrained from condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the UN, although, according to Al-Arab, this move did not affect Rabat's relations with the US and Europe as 'both sides showed understanding'. Nor do the sanctions prevent Rabat and Moscow from continuing to develop their ties. Indeed, despite restrictions against Russian planes and ships, Moroccan airspace remains open to Russian aircraft. There are also around 10 Russian fishing vessels in the Kingdom's territorial waters. These balances and Rabat's diplomatic efforts are serving to protect Moroccan sovereignty and integrity, as well as to isolate the Polisario.

The recent African summit in the US also represented another diplomatic failure for the Saharawi movement. The Saharawi issue was not addressed during the meeting, not even by Algerian Prime Minister Aiman Benabderrahmane, who focused on the Tindouf-Zuérate road, a road connecting Algeria to Mauritania that would allow Algiers to get closer to the Atlantic Ocean.


This, according to Al-Arab, is "another blow to the Polisario's hopes that the Saharan lands will be the corridor connecting Algeria to the Atlantic". It also "removes one of the Polisario's most important geopolitical stakes and undermines its importance as a power with significant economic benefits for Algeria". "This makes it a mere political, financial and security burden", adds the Arabic daily.

One of the Polisario's biggest mistakes was to link itself militarily with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both Morocco's ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, and Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita have warned of the threats posed to the region by the partnership between Tehran and Polisario. These ties not only create risks in North Africa, but also harm the organisation itself. The Polisario's use of Iranian drones could provide Morocco with greater international support

Generation gap

In addition to the diplomatic problems facing Polisario, the movement also suffers from internal divisions. Within this challenge, the most notable is the generational gap between two camps, one that wants to resume the war and the other that is committed to diplomacy.

Even a senior member of the group has acknowledged that his generation "dominated all the positions and excluded the youth despite their education and degrees". "Those of my generation controlled all positions, from the lowest to the highest," he added, according to Al-Arab


Differences among members have led to resignations, with the head of EU affairs resigning, citing "profound differences in vision, methods and tools".

In the midst of all these problems are the thousands of Sahrawi refugees living in the Tindouf camps. Recently, the UN has warned about the serious humanitarian crisis they face and the worsening living conditions.

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