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Morocco Describes as 'Serious Developments' Polisario Provocations East of Moroccan Sahara Defense System
01/04/2018
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, described as "serious developments" the multiple provocations of the polisario elements east of the defense system of the Moroccan Sahara.


During a meeting with national and international press, Sunday in Rabat, following the joint meeting of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Islamic Affairs and Moroccans living abroad at the House of Representatives and the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Borders, National Defense and Occupied Zones at the House of Advisors, Bourita said that "for some time, there has been an increase in provocations and blackmail against MINURSO, military deployments and media announcements, all aimed at altering the legal and historical status of the area east of the defense system, notably in Bir Lahlou and Tifariti".

"These serious developments constitute a direct violation of military agreements, a challenge and a threat to the ceasefire and seriously undermine regional stability," the minister said, stressing that "Morocco, in the clearest possible terms, will not tolerate any change in the legal, historical and real status of this zone."

In this regard, Bourita recalled that this defence system, traced between 1986 and 1990 in coordination and consultation with major powers, was carried out "to prevent a direct confrontation between the Moroccan and Algerian armies", noting that "it is in this framework that this area was left free of any military or civilian presence".

Between 1989 and 1991, even after the construction of this system, the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) remained present in this zone, he added, noting that it was only on the eve of the ceasefire in September 1991 that the FAR withdrew beyond this system to allow the United Nations to install their ceasefire monitoring device.

"Morocco, in the clearest way at the time, had specified that this zone should be free of any presence and placed under the exclusive responsibility of MINURSO" which set up, as early as 1991, five surveillance posts in Bir Lahlou, Tifariti, Mehaires, Mijek and Aghwani, the minister said.

"This system was never built as a border (...). This area is the exclusive responsibility of the United Nations," Bourita said, rejecting the idea that it is "a polisario zone" or a "liberated area”.

Referring to the recent provocations of the polisario, "encouraged by Algeria", in an attempt to change the status of this zone, Bourita said that they were first "blackmail actions against MINURSO".

In fact, the polisario separatists asked MINURSO elements to meet them not in Tindouf but in Bir Lahlou or Tifariti, "which constitutes a dangerous precedent", he said, recalling that "the UN has always dealt with the polisario where it has always been, namely on Algerian territory".

Furthermore, Bourita told the press that on at least four occasions, actions to restrict the freedom of movement of MINURSO military observers were undertaken in mid-March by the polisario in order to prevent them from reaching the said zone, "which constitutes a serious obstacle to MINURSO's action".

"Even more recently, there have been announcements of the transfer of some so-called polisario structures to this zone," he went on, stressing that "all these developments constitute provocations against the international community, a challenge to MINURSO and a direct threat to the stability of the region”.

In this regard, Bourita said that "Morocco considers that MINURSO, which has the responsibility to manage this area, must fully ensure its role", noting that "the permissive and light management of what happened in Guergarat has been interpreted as an encouragement".

"If the UN, General Secretariat and Security Council, are not ready to put an end to these provocations, if they do not intervene so that the status quo and the legal status are preserved, Morocco will assume its responsibilities," warned the minister, wondering also about the absence of any mention of recent violations committed by the polisario east of the Moroccan Sahara defence system in the advance copy of the UN Secretary-General's report on the Sahara.

For his part, minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, underlined that "Morocco will not stand idly by" in the face of attacks designed to alter the historical and legal status of this zone, warning that the Kingdom "is ready to do anything, absolutely anything, to preserve its territorial integrity".

Laftit took this opportunity to point to Algeria's responsibility in this artificial conflict, stressing that every month dozens of young people from the southern provinces are trained in Algiers to commit acts of vandalism and sow public disorder.

"At this very moment, young Sahrawis are receiving training of this type in Algiers," he said.

He recalled, in this regard, that the Kingdom is committed to the development of its southern provinces through projects amounting to nearly 7 billion dollars.