Western Sahara

CrisisWatch Western Sahara

Unchanged Situation

Polisario Front independence movement re-elected Brahim Ghali as president; Rabat continued to press international partners to side with Morocco over Western Sahara.

Polisario leader re-elected during national congress. Polisario Front independence movement 13 Jan launched 16th Congress in Algeria’s Tindouf province and 20 Jan re-elected Brahim Ghali as president with 69% of votes; Ghali, who was challenged by other Polisario heavyweight Bechir Mustapha Sayed amid growing internal rifts over movement’s strategy, vowed to intensify struggle against Morocco to achieve sovereignty.

Morocco continued to exert pressure on partners over Western Sahara. U.S.-based news outlet Axios 4 Jan revealed Rabat demanded that Israel recognise Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara before kingdom opens embassy in Tel Aviv. In interview with French newspaper L’Opinion, Moroccan PM Aziz Akhannouch 16 Jan said Paris “cannot simply be an observer” in Western Sahara conflict and needs to clarify stance; statement comes ahead of expected official visit by French President Macron to Morocco in Feb or March.

In other important developments. At opening ceremony of African Nations Championship football tournament in Algiers, Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela 13 Jan called for liberation of “the last colony of Africa, Western Sahara”; Morocco’s football federation next day condemned “provocative” speech.

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In The News

6 Sep 2022
We're seeing a diplomatic war [over Western Sahara], where both sides [Algeria and Morocco] are resorting to anything short of open conflict. AFP

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
7 Apr 2022
In the long term, the [Western Sahara] independence movement's diplomatic margin of maneuver is getting ever more narrow. AFP

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
11 Dec 2020
[The US recognition of Rabat’s claim to Western Sahara] will make Sahrawi youths more angry, mobilised and committed to resolving the conflict through force. Financial Times

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa

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