Après s’être engagée à renouveler «l’arsenal» du Polisario, devenu obsolète du fait du manque d’entretien, Alger se rétracte in extremis et invoque des difficultés budgétaires. Le front séparatiste est sur les dents.

While the separatist group commonly known as the Polisario Front has been eager to receive weapons from Algiers, the group’s major supporter has just canceled a major arms deal with Russia due to “financial difficulties,” according to Moroccan media.


Algeria, already dealing with a financial crisis due to the decline in oil prices, has just canceled an arms agreement with Russia, a reliable source told Moroccan news outlet Le360. Algeria had been expecting to receive an important shipment of arms, a huge number of which would have been delivered to the separatist group.


This month, the Polisario Front has threatened Morocco and the United Nations with reentry of the border territory of Guerguerat through military operations carried out near the region.Le360’s source said that Algeria’s reasons for canceling the arms deal with Russia were not “acceptable to” the separatist group.  Instead, certain “hawks” within the Polisario alleged that Algeria had refused to renew its arms supplies with the separatist group  due to the “pressure” exerted  by French President Emmanuel Macron during his recent visit to Algeria.  


The Polisario has accused Macron of intervening with Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to cancel the “arms” contract of the Polisario.


On December 6, Macron visited Algeria in order to discuss the Western Sahara issue. On the eve of his visit, Macron told the Algerian daily El Khabar that he was in favor of opening up a “dialogue between Morocco and Algeria around the Sahara issue” as “the resolution of this crisis represents a major challenge for integration of the Arab Maghreb.”


However, the statement of France President did not please Polisario Front leader, Ibrahim Ghali.  In fact, the President of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) sent a message to Macron warning about use of a “unilateral approach” in the Western Sahara conflict.


Ghali said that such an approach “ignores the realities,” and would not “serve peace and cooperation in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean.”


During Macron’s interview with the Algerian daily, journalist Hafid Soualili suggested to the president that his stance on the Western Sahara appeared “biased towards Morocco.” Macron, however, rejected the characterization, saying that in contrast he wishes to rely on both countries to come up with a concrete resolution of the issue.


According to Macron, the problem lies mainly between Morocco and Algeria, and it is “up to the two countries to settle” their dispute.


Algeria, however, is no longer hiding its support for the so-called SADR. The country has supplied the separatist group with arms several times. In May, the Algerian government made an important arms delivery to the Polisario to encourage the separatist group to continue escalation of its military operations against Morocco.


In the past few weeks, Polisario has been conducting military operations near Guerguerat. During its most recent operation, Algeria participated in one of its military forays. Moroccan media also reported that the Polisario Front received heavy arms from Algeria. Members of the Algerian military forces also participated in the military operations, according to reports.