A member of the Foreign Affairs Committee questions High Representative Borrell on the use of Iranian drones by the Polisario against Morocco

El Parlamento Europeo preocupado por la amenaza de drones iraníes en el Sáhara

REUTERS/ROMAN PETUSHKOV - Iranian-made Shahed-136 Kamikaze drone

 The alarm about the use of drones by armed elements linked to the Polisario Front reached the European Parliament in Brussels through a written question to the High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Josep Borrell. 

The question, put by European People's Party MEP Antonio López-Istúriz White, refers to the news that set off warning sirens in Morocco in early October. When the Interior Minister of the proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Omar Mansour, claimed during a visit to Mauritania that the Polisario Front would soon have drones for military use, all fingers pointed to Iran as a potential supplier of the weapons systems. 


The events prompted a question from López-Istúriz, a member of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, who wants to know what information the European Commission has on the alleged supply of Iranian drones to the Polisario Front. The question registered by the Popular Party member of parliament also questions the High Representative on the potential measures that the European Union will take to avoid an escalation of the conflict in the Sahara, as well as to prevent the infiltration of Iran in the region. 

Military analysts quoted by the Moroccan newspaper L'Opinion reject the thesis of Iranian supplies to the Polisario and consider that a purchase would be more appropriate if the Polisario Front has sufficient funds to carry out the transaction. For Emmanuel Dupuy, president of the Institut Prospective et Sécurité en Europe, a French think tank based in Paris, Brussels and Rabat, despite the tensions between Tehran and Rabat, the current geopolitical context does not lend itself to the scenario presented by the Moroccan government. 

Jesús Manuel Pérez Triana, a Spanish security and defence analyst, told Atalayar that Polisario's military means are obsolete and that from a military point of view the insurgent group's options are very limited. Moroccan supremacy in military terms would be absolute and would prevent the separatists from taking any serious action. 

AP/Bernat Armangue  -   Varias pick-up del Polisario equipadas de cañones antiaéreos

Omar Mansour, in an interview with the Spanish media El Independiente, denied any link between the Polisario Front and Iran when asked about the possible supply of Iranian drones. The minister maintains his statement regarding the objectives of providing the armed insurgent elements with military drones, although he does not reveal their potential origin. He claims that they could come from Morocco itself, referring to possible attempts to shoot down Moroccan drones patrolling the Sahara and retrieve them for their own use. 

Morocco argued before the UN that the Yemen scenario, where Iran is heavily supporting the Houthi rebel group with training and weaponry, could be repeated in the Sahara if no action is taken. Morocco is currently under evaluation by the US for military aid and a military development programme in cooperation with other countries under threat from Iran.