The UN resolutions, since Resolution 2414, adopted in 2018, called on Polisario movement to immediately withdraw from the buffer zone of Guergarate. However, the blocking of the Guergarate passage, the destruction of the road connecting the Moroccan and Mauritanian border posts and the provocations against members of the Royal Armed Forces is the movement response of the UN last five resolutions of the UN Security Council.
The intimidation of MINURSO personnel, by throwing stones at a helicopter which was flying over the area, seriously endanger the sustainability of the ceasefire and violate the last five Security Council resolutions. The latter urged the Polisario to respect the ceasefire and refrain from any act that may destabilize the situation or compromise the resumption of the political process.
The UN Secretary-General has called on three occasions for preserving the freedom of civil and commercial movement in the buffer zone. Yet, the Polisario never fails to show its desire to torpedo international legality, through its calls for war and its open disdain for the UN Secretary-General and MINURSO.
Morocco has so far shown the greatest restraint and wisdom in the face of this extremely serious situation, where an armed separatist group is engaged in acts of brigandry in an area of the Moroccan national territory. A place under the responsibility of the UN.
The Kingdom of Morocco has never ceased to warn, on multiple occasions, the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and MINURSO about the gravity of the situation and its consequences. It has warned, in particular, about the viability of the ceasefire, the political process and the stability in the region. The Polisario violation is part of a strategy to change the legal and historical status of the buffer zone, through a policy of fait accompli.
Morocco decided to act facing Polisario militias’ provocations
The Royal Armed Forces (FAR) set up a security cordon to secure the flow of goods and people across the Guergarate buffer zone, linking Morocco to Mauritania. These acts followed the blocking, by about sixty people supervised by armed militiamen of the Polisario, of the road axis crossing the buffer zone of Guergarate which connects the Kingdom of Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and the prohibition of the right of passage.
According to the Moroccan armed forces, the response is a non-offensive operation without any bellicose intent in taking place according to clear rules of engagement, requiring to avoid any contact with civilians and to resort to the use of arms only in case of self-defence.
The operation in the area of Guergarate is "a strategic change" that will put an end to the separatists' attempts to block commercial and civil traffic between Morocco and Mauritania. It is an intervention that will impact positively the population and commercial traffic as well as the relations between the Kingdom and its African depth.
“Morocco has decided to act, under its attributions, its duties and in full compliance with international legality," said the ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad in a statement.
After having committed itself to the greatest restraint, in the face of provocations from the militias of the Polisario, "the Kingdom of Morocco had no other choice but to assume its responsibilities in order to put an end to the deadlock situation generated by these actions and restore free civil and commercial movement,” the ministry pointed out in the statement.
The Polisario and its militias, which entered the area on October 21, 2020, carried out acts of banditry there, blocked the movement of people and goods on this road, and continually harassed the military observers of the MINURSO, the ministry recalled, noting that these documented actions constitute real premeditated acts of destabilization, which alter the status of the area, violate military agreements and represent a real threat to the sustainability of the ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General "regrets" failure of its status
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "regrets" that his efforts in recent days to "avoid an escalation" in Guergarate in the Sahara have failed, his spokesman said on Friday.
Antonio Guterres is "deeply concerned about the possible consequences of the latest developments", added Stéphane Dujarric during his daily press briefing. He "remains committed (...) to avoiding the collapse of the ceasefire" which had prevailed for some thirty years between Morocco and the Polisario Front, he said.
Bernard Miyet, former UN Under-Secretary-General in charge of peacekeeping operations under which Minurso falls, warned, against attempts by the Polisario to violate the cease-fire by moving its militiamen to the buffer zone of El Guerguarat, which links Morocco and Mauritania.
"Anything that contributes to questioning the ceasefire, directly or indirectly, is unwelcome and contrary to the made commitments," said Miyet in reaction to the Polisario's attempts to hamper civil and commercial movement at the level of this vital road axis connecting Europe and West Africa via Morocco and Mauritania.
Miyet, who held the position of UN Under-Secretary-General in charge of peacekeeping operations between 1997 and 2000, stressed that the actions of the Polisario would logically and inevitably lead to condemnation by the Security Council as was already the case in 2018 concerning this same area of El Guerguarat.
The former UN official regretted the lack of political progress, underlining that such a situation represents "a tragedy for refugees without prospects" in the region of Tindouf (southwestern Algeria).
The former UN official noted that the Organization has never stopped calling, in its various resolutions, for a political settlement, which may pave the way for the search for an alternative formula, such as a significant autonomy to overcome the blockages.