Christopher Ross’ unexpected return to Morocco was frowned upon in Tindouf, the stronghold of the Polisario in Algeria, according to well informed sources. The Front leaders have interpreted the UN mediator’s second visit to the region in three weeks, as a signal that the Western Sahara autonomy option is gaining ground on the international scene. The visit was all the more unwelcome by the Polisario as the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara had just wound up a long tour in the region. Christopher Ross has actually just spent nearly three weeks in the Maghreb visiting Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, the three countries concerned by the conflict. Besides their worries about the unexpected return of Christopher Ross to Morocco, the Polisario leaders are also concerned by the leaked contents of the report the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to submit to the Security Council on April 22, according to the same sources. In the new document, Ban Ki-moon calls for the opening of borders between Morocco and Algeria to serve the interests of the region and especially to facilitate the settlement of the Western Sahara conflict. This perspective makes the Polisario leaders shiver, because the new UN approach is hazardous for both the independentist front and for its protector and financial sponsor, Algeria. It is indeed the first time that a report of the UN Secretary General draws such a clear correlation between the normalization of Algerian-Moroccan relations and the settlement of the Western Sahara issue.
This unmistakably means that the international community is now aware that the solution is to be found with Algiers and not with the Polisario, whose role as a subordinate performer is thus recognized quasi-officially. After the painful experience of Mali, the international community and super powers are increasingly aware of the threat endangering the security of the entire area. They are also aware of the intermingling of interests and roles and know that the Jihadist groups’ leaders are almost all Algerian and that some of them are manipulated by the generals of the Algerian military intelligence services, the DRS. This is why the UN Secretary General is calling for an urgent settlement of the Western Sahara conflict to limit the spill over of instability across the region.