Fighting is on-going between Moroccan military forces and the Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro).
On November 16th and 17th, clashes are continuing along the security wall in the disputed area.
King Mohammed VI said the military operation by Morocco’s army had enabled trade to resume through the strategic border post at El Guergarat that had been blockaded by supporters of the pro-independence Polisario Front.
Morocco “has redressed the situation, settled the problem definitively and restored the flow of trade,” the monarch told United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, according to a royal statement, issued on November 16th.
While authorities would continue to support UN efforts to reach “a realistic and achievable solution” for the conflict, those efforts must ensure the territory stays under Moroccan sovereignty, the king said.
The hostilities began after Rabat sent troops to reopen a highway linking Morocco, the Western Sahara and Mauritania that was occupied by protesters.
Polisario, in response, vowed to intensify its attack, and it claims that Morocco defaulted on the three-decade-old agreement and is backed by neighboring Algeria.
“There is just no feasible way to prevent a full return to war,” the group’s envoy to Europe, Oubi Bouchraya Bachir, said. “The cease-fire is over once and for all.”
For the past three weeks leading up to November 13th, dozens of Sahrawi protesters had blocked the Guerguerat border crossing, cutting trade and traffic between Morocco and Mauritania to the south.
They were demanding Morocco close a road in the U.N.-patrolled buffer zone and calling for the release of political prisoners.
Rabat’s reaction was that it deployed a brigade of 1,000 men accompanied by 200 vehicles to the region, violating the terms of the ceasefire.
In response, Polisario said that it would stop adhering to the ceasefire and declared war on Morocco.
This deployment took place hours after US Major General Andrew Rohling met in Agadir with Lieutenant General Belkhir El Farouk, Commander of the Southern Zone of Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces, which includes occupied Western Sahara.CLASHES IN WESTERN SAHARA CONTINUE, AS POLISARIO FRONT SAYS THERE’S NO HOPE FOR PEACE