Western Sahara: Is Algiers reconsidering its position?

lammamraThe latest offensive of the Moroccan diplomacy at the United Nations pleading for the Algerian Kabylie and the firmness of King Mohammed VI towards Algerian leaders seem to bear fruit.

Heavyweights of the Algerian regime are up on the ramparts in a  timid attempt to bring their country out of the shifting sands of the Western Sahara conflict that has been opposing for 40 years Morocco and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi separatist movement, created out of nothing by Houari Boumediene of Algeria and Libya’s Gaddafi.

Several senior officials have recently made unusual conciliatory statements regarding the Moroccan neighbor.

While Algerian leaders have so far supported vehemently the ??self-determination referendum thesis claimed by the Polisario, the Algerian Foreign Minister, Ramtane Lamamra said, for the first time, in an interview with the Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya that his country does not back the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, but it does not reject it either.

He said that this initiative mainly concerns Morocco, the Polisario and the United Nations, affirming, as usual, that Algeria is not a stakeholder in this conflict.

It’s the same story with Amar Saadani, the secretary general of the ruling FLN party. He told an Algerian TV channel that on the Western Sahara issue “I have things and truths to tell the Algerian people, but I can only reveal them at the appropriate time.” He added that “this escalation (with Morocco) is in no one’s interest in the region.”

As the journalist was insisting, Saadani said he is “afraid to lead Algeria in another way,” insinuating that his country should withdraw from the Sahara issue which is “part of the exclusive jurisdiction of the UN.”

Following these remarks, Saadani came under strong criticism from the pro-Polisario officials in Algiers as well as from the Polisario leaders in Tindouf.

Have the Algerians finally realized that their interests do not lie in the division and partition of the territory of a sovereign neighboring State, but in the union and complementarity? Not so sure, but the first step seems to have been already taken. We shall know more about all this in the weeks and months ahead.


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