Francophone Belgian media outlet La Libre Belgique suggests in a recent article that there are links between the Polisario Front and the Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Analyzing “primary data” and interviewing a number of experts specializing in MENA region security issues, the article provides facts to corroborate Rabat’s recent accusations: the existence of an ideological and strategic collaboration between Hezbollah and the self-proclaimed SADR.
“Given that Hezbollah and the Polisario present themselves to the world as freedom fighters opposed to occupation and exploitation,” La Libre Belgique argues, it is only natural that they cooperate. Perhaps the notion of lending a helping hand to a brother movement spurred Hezbollah into action, the article suggests. More importantly, article substantiates a stronger case for a broader plan to build a security backdoor to promote and protect Iranian strategic interests on the African continent.
As far as Iran’s African interest are concerned, weakening and destabilizing staunch American allies is a typical Hezbollah strategy, suggesting that the destabilization of Morocco’s security system may well be the tip of a much larger iceberg.
As for the arms deliveries and urban warfare training charges that Morocco levied against Iran and Hezbollah earlier this week, the same source says that Morocco’s claims have considerable substance, especially considering that, in 2016, a pro-Polisario campaign was organized in Lebanon by Hezbollah militants.
Since then, the source elaborated, the relationship has only gained strength, with shipment of sophisticated Hezbollah weaponry arming Polisario forces. The article also notes that the Hezbollah campaign was “followed by the visit of a military delegation of the Shiite militant group to Tindouf… which is Polisario’s headquarters”
Hezbollah-Polisario: Similar Groups on Different Continents
The 2018 Tindouf visit reportedly cemented the two groups’ strategic collaboration, with the as the overarching political goals of the rapprochement first and foremost concerned the establishment of a pro-Iranian (and more subtly, a pro-Moscow) corridor on the African continent.
Commenting on the broader geopolitical implications of Teheran’s use of proxies to advance its interests in Africa, Elena Aoun, professor of political science and international studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, said that Morocco is a target because it is seen as a staunch US ally in the African security corridor. “For this and other countless reasons, Morocco needs US support on its Western Sahara position,” Mrs. Aoun explained.
For his part, Didier Leroy, senior researcher at the Superior Royal Institute for Defense Studies (IRSD) and assistant professor at Université Libre de Bruxelle, said that the accusations are plausible because the Lebanese Shiite militants “have, through the businesses of many families of the Shiite Diaspora, numerous financial interests in West and North Africa.” He added that “They [Hezbollah] are constantly on the lookout for business opportunities,” further noting that access to the abundance of natural resources on the Atlantic seaboard, especially phosphate deposits, constitutes a key financial opportunity for the group.
Polisario and Hezbollah are similar militant groups sharing “the same political and military ideology,” the article states, concluding that the two militant groups’ rapprochement likely serves much grander geopolitical interests of bigger global players.