Morocco has proposed an autonomy plan as a political solution to definitely settle the territorial dispute over the Western Sahara, while the Polisario separatist militants claim, with Algerian diplomatic and financial support, a self-determination referendum. The UN sponsored negotiations held so far have not enabled the two sides to find common grounds.
An expert from the Brussels-based Peace and Security Research and Information Group (GRIP), addressing the issue from a geo-strategic perspective, warns that the creation of a sixth state in the Maghreb would trigger a destabilization spiral in the whole North Africa region.
"To encourage the partition of a State to create another state would open the Pandora's box," says the GRIP researcher, Michel Luntumbue. Such a precedent will help unleash independence claims in other neighboring countries (Kabyls, Tuareg) and result in a cascade of secession and separation demands, he warns.
The Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security, created in 1979, seeks to inform decision makers and the public on defense and security related issues, and to contribute to the fight against international tensions.
Create a State on the territory of an existing State is not a viable solution, insists Michel Luntumbue, who underlines that in order to avoid breaking up the Maghreb, the countries of the region should undertake reforms in all areas, rethink their systems of governance and encourage the participation of all components of their societies in public affairs management.
Luntumbue also stresses the need to preserve the territorial integrity of States, as called for by Morocco and by all the parties supporting its autonomy proposal for the Sahara and to work towards greater regional integration instead of encouraging partition and balkanization.
All Maghreb countries have everything to gain should they promote an integration oriented dynamic that would be a value added in terms of growth, security and stability.