The Moroccan military on November 13, Friday, launched an attack at Guerguerat village in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) or Western Sahara. Following the Moroccan aggression, president of the SADR, Brahim Ghali, issued a decree on Saturday, declaring the end of its commitment to the UN-mediated ceasefire agreement signed with Morocco in 1991.
Moroccan troops crossed the UN-designated buffer zone on Friday and entered Guerguerat village where they used force against people protesting the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and demanding a referendum as per UNSC resolution 690.
President Ghali said the Moroccan offensive was in complete violation of the three-decade-old ceasefire in place in the Western Sahara region. He also said that the move was against the 1991 UNSC resolution 690, reported Sahara Press Service (SPP), SADR’s official news agency.
Ghali has written a letter to the UN alleging that Morocco, through its act of aggression, “has seriously undermined not only the ceasefire and related military agreements but also any chances of achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara,” SPP reported.
UN general secretary Antonio Guterres said on Friday that all his initiatives to prevent the conflict from escalating have so far failed. He warned of serious consequences for any violation of the ceasefire and attempts to change the status quo in the region.
Following the withdrawal of Spain from its erstwhile colony of Western Sahara in 1975, the SADR was declared by the Sahrawi liberation movement called the Polisario Front in 1976. The western part of this region is currently under the territorial control of Morocco. Sections within Western Sahara, under the leadership of Polisario Front, have been struggling to end the Moroccan occupation of the region.
As the UNSC resolution talks about conducting a referendum to decide the status of the Western Sahara, Polisario Front and other international groups have been demanding it be held soon as possible. However, Morocco has refused to conduct the referendum, with the tacit support of the US and France.
In the wake of the new Moroccan aggression, Polisario Front has demanded immediate UN intervention to control the invasive troops. It has also demanded a clear pronouncement in favor of holding the self-determination referendum on an urgent basis.
Talking to Peoples Dispatch, Sidi Essbaai of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders, CODESA’s administrative committee member, expressed his desire for a peaceful resolution of the conflict and called for immediate help from international organizations, such as the International Red Cross and the UN, to protect the lives of Sahrawi citizens.
Several international groups, including the Communist Party of the People of Canary in Spain, the Algerian National Committee of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (CNASPS), and the European Parliament’s intergroup “Peace for Saharawi People”, among others, have issued statements in solidarity with the SADR and demanded an immediate end to Moroccan hostilities.