Nigerian Silence over Saharan Dispute infuriates Algeria
Nigeria did not issue any response regarding Morocco’s military intervention at the crossing border of Guergarat
Algeria, the Polisario’s main supporter against Morocco, feels disappointed as the country sought to gain Nigeria’s support concerning the Saharan matter. A Maghrebian website indicated that the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum’s recent visit to Nigeria did not result in any progress with regard to the longest conflict in Africa.
Separatist Polisario Front seeks the independence of Moroccan Sahara, a vast desert area that Morocco owns since Spain’s withdrawal in 1975, and considers it an integral part of its territory.
Morocco says that the only political solution that can be suggested is autonomy. On the other hand, the Polisario Front, and its ally Algeria expressed their disapproval, saying that they want to hold a referendum, with the independence of Moroccan Sahara being one of the options.
According to the North Africa Post, Boukadoum was hoping to gain some Nigerian support in reference to Algeria’s anti-Moroccan stance, “but he returned empty-handed, with the exception of some words on paper related to projects that Nigeria and Algeria did not show any real interest in.”
Algerian media outlets, such as their official news agency and An-Nahar Journal, described the visit as a start, and an opportunity to shed light on the Saharan issue, in view of recent developments.
The Moroccan army launched an operation earlier this month to secure commercial and civilian traffic in Guergarat crossing border; truck drivers use this route to transport goods from Morocco to Nigeria and some other African countries.
It must be stressed that Algeria was the only Arab country to condemn the measures taken by Morocco at the crossing border.
The Algerian News Agency claimed that Boukadoum discussed with his Nigerian counterpart the Saharan issue, as well as the situation in Mali and the bilateral cooperation.
However, the North Africa Post said that the News Agency of Nigeria did not mention anything related to the Saharan issue, and only discussed a set of bilateral projects, including the revitalization of the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline, which has been forgotten since Nigeria and Morocco agreed to build a gas pipeline.
The North African Post website also added that Nigeria did not issue any response regarding Morocco’s military intervention at the crossing border of Guergarat.
According to the same website, Nigeria used to be Polisario’s ally, but after King Mohammed VI’s visit to Abuja and a similar visit by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to Rabat in 2018, Morocco and Nigeria came close to forming an alliance based on mutual respect and win-win partnerships.
But last February, Buhari received the alleged “ambassador of Western Sahara to Nigeria,” and confirmed the renewal of his country’s “firm and supportive stance in support of the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination,” as reported by the Sahara Press Service.
So far, around 16 African countries, in addition to the UAE, have opened consulates in Western Sahara, located in southern Morocco. Jordan, Bahrain and Haiti also revealed their plans to open consulates there in the near future.