Will protests in Algeria have a negative impact on the Polisario ?

Will Algeria’s Hirak movement have a negative impact on the Polisario ? To M’Hamed Khaddad, the Front’s coordinator with MINURSO, protests in the country wouldn’t affect the separatist movement. The Polisario, however, decreased its activities in Europe and in the US in 2019 compared to the previous years.

In a few days, the United Nations Security Council will have to adopt a new resolution on the Western Sahara conflict, renewing the mandate of MINURSO. In 2019, the Polisario broke up with a well-established tradition, which consisted of mobilizing its members in the international scene weeks before the adoption of every UN resolution on the territorial conflict.


M’Hamed Khaddad’s annual trips to European capitals have been significantly reduced. On April 11, the Front’s coordinator with MINURSO was received by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative on the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov.


During the same period in 2018, Khaddad traveled to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, where he held talks with several diplomats from both European countries. He also visited Sweden.


Affected by the Algerian Hirak


In the United States, the Polisario and its lobbyists were quiet. Gone are the days when the Human Rights Commission in the US Congress used to examine the situation in Western Sahara, with Aminatou Haidar or Eric Goldstein from Human Rights Watch as guests. In 2019, it was Washington that reached out to the Polisario, sending a diplomat from its embassy in Rabat at the beginning of March to meet with the president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA).


Moreover, in Algiers, the 7th edition of the international conference entitled «Peoples’ right to resistance : the case of the Sahrawi people», has been postponed to a later date. The previous sessions, held every April in the Algerian capital, were attended by senior officials from the Polisario. The 6th edition of the pro-Polisario conference was attended by Front’s leader Brahim Ghali.


It is worth mentioning that the current situation in Algeria has affected the plans of the Polisario. In Laayoune and Dakhla a pro-Polisario march was expected to take place on April 20th. However, the march which was expected to respond to the big gathering organized by Moroccan political party Istiqlal, never took place.


Thursday in Laayoune, a pro-Polisario sit-in suffered the same fate. The police were present but the protesters preferred to stay at home. Their last action, in which Aminatou Haidar took part, dates back to March 29.


To M'Hamed Khaddad, the political instability that the Algerian sponsor is experiencing «has no impact on the position of this country», he told Russian press agency Sputnik.