El Othmani’s government seems hardly concerned with the fate of the 19 Saharawis arrested by the Polisario militias, waiting to get enough information about their nationalities. On the other hand, the Polisario is rather doubtful. The Chioukh of the tribes believe that the arrest of these alleged smugglers was not a very smart move.
After announcing the arrest of 19 Moroccan nationals over «drug trafficking» by the Polisario Front, the atmosphere has been filled with doubt and tension and questions were raised resultudly.
Being aware of how serious the problem is, some voices have been trying to find a solution for the current crisis, while the public opinion is already getting ready for the trial of the 19 Sahrawis scheduled for August the 19th in Tifariti. A buffer zone controlled by the United Nation forces. Its legal status is identical to the one of Guerguerate, where the Minurso has a team-site.
Avoiding the Chioukhs’ anger
The Polisario is not only afraid of the UN's reaction. The separatist movement is indeed afraid of the Chioukhs who are controlling and leading the Sahrawi tribes. The latters belong to a traditional elite on which Brahim Ghali partly bets to strengthen his fragile authority, increasingly threatened by his opponent Lamine Ould El Bouhali.
Arresting these smugglers, who belong to Ait Oussa and Oulad Lahcen tribes has shaken the trust established between the Polisario leader and heads of these entities. «A lawsuit will ruin the relations that have been linking the Chioukhs with the Polisario’s leader» states a source close to the file.
«To emerge unscathed from this affair, the Polisario should release the detainees. A choice that the Polisario could go for once it gets satisfied with the international attention given by the media», the same source added.
In fact, earlier this month, drug trafficking in the Tindouf camp has taken a worrying turn. Gangs close to Brahim Ghali and those loyal to his opponent, Mohamed Lamine Ould El Bouhali clashed on the 7th of June 2017. The two camps engaged in a gunfight opening fire in broad day-light.