Spanish infantry commander and a former veteran of the Western Sahara guerilla, Iglesias Coto, has openly condemned the Algerian-backed Polisario Front’s maneuvers in Western Sahara, calling the creation of Polisario a “big mistake.”
During a recent conference organized by Spanish authorities on the Sahara conflict, Coto said that Polisario was the worst outcome of the Sahara War.
Coto, who was quoted by Spanish news source La Nueva Espana, said that the “revolutionary ideas of the Polisario Front were born in the ‘60s in Madrid, where notable Sahraoui children came to study.”
Several Spanish media outlets reported on Polisario’s involvement in criminal acts back in the 1970s.
In October 1974, Polisario members, including the newly-appointed “prime minister” of the Polisario Front-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Mohamed Ouali Akeik, committed terrorist attacks against Spanish citizens at the Pohsboucraa site near the Moroccan city of Laayoune.
Polisario also carried out attacks on phosphate conveyor belts in Laayoune, between 1974 and 1976, in an attempt to stop phosphate mining. Additionally, the separatist group engaged in violent attacks on Spanish fishing vessels, the Moroccan army, and French nationals in the area.
Polisario continued targeting Spanish citizens during the 1980s, claiming the lives of 300 civilians, according to Spanish news website La Opinion de Tenerife.
After Western Sahara’s return to Moroccan sovereignty in 1975, the Polisario used the assassination of Spanish civilians as a tactic to pressure Spain and punish the state for signing a fishing agreement with Morocco in 1976, which tacitly recognized Western Sahara as Moroccan territory.
The Spaniard also denounced the separatists’ violent attitudes and criticized the front’s “proximity to Marxist Algeria.”