Iran hopes to use its sponsorship of the Polisario into a means to extend its power in North and West Africa, particularly in states along the Atlantic coast line, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, said, adding that this is only one aspect of Iran’s “offensive push” in Africa.
“Iran hopes to use its sponsorship of the Polisario to transform the regional conflict between Algeria and the Polisario on the one hand, and Morocco on the other, into a means to extend Iranian power in North and West Africa, particularly in states along the Atlantic coast line,” Bourita pointed out in an interview with the US information website “Breitbart”.
“We think that what is happening with the Polisario is only part of an aggressive approach by Iran towards North and West Africa,” he added, noting that Polisario is an attractive organization for Iran and Hezbollah.
“Polisario has an advantage for Iran because they know the area. They are traffickers. (…) They know the routes, the area,” the minister said. “That’s why we think this connection between Hezbollah and Polisario is very dangerous for North Africa.”
Given the central role Polisario is now playing in Iran’s efforts in North and West Africa, Bourita believes that in light of expressed support from the George W. Bush administration for the 2006 Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara, it is vital for the Trump administration to take concrete steps to facilitate its implementation.
This will help both stabilize the situation in North Africa and stop Iran’s power play in its tracks, he argued.
“The administrations starting with [Bill] Clinton and then [George W.] Bush and even with this administration, they said clearly that the autonomy plan is a credible, serious and realistic solution to this issue. What we need today is how to go from here. First, not to just have a diplomatic statement but to go from statements to acts. If you consider this plan as serious, credible and realistic what can you do to help concretely to advance it?,” he said.
Bourita maintains that in the medium and long-term, resolving the conflict in the Moroccan Sahara would have a profound impact on Arab politics generally by strengthening the most moderate Arab states.
“The Trump administration for us has everything required to move this issue forward and we are seeking its assistance,” Bourita noted.
“Iran would like to be in North Africa. They tried to develop a presence in Morocco,” the minister pointed out.
“Today they are repeating the efforts in other North African countries. They attracted some of our youth by giving them scholarships,” he explained, adding that Iran is also undertaking missionary work among the Moroccan diaspora, including in Belgium.