As preparations are made for the impending Russian-African summit set for July, Moscow is now undertaking comprehensive consultations with various African leaders. The Kremlin Palace wants to make sure the conference is successful, but there is still one significant outstanding question: Will the Polisario front be invited this time?
Algeria and South Africa have pushed for the Polisario to attend the summit, therefore the decision to invite them or not has been divisive.
The Polisario was not invited to the bilateral summit with Africa in 2019, much to the dismay of some African leaders. Building stronger political and economic ties between nations had been the summit’s main goal. Many people are now speculating about the possibility of another historical occurrence as the peak draws near.
Several publications contend that the Kremlin Palace will invite only African United Nations members to the conference this year, rather than inviting the Polisario.
In view of the escalation of the Ukraine issue, according to Rachid Lazraq, director of the North African Institute for Studies, Research, and Public Policy Assessment, “Africa has become a battlefield for the American-Russian fight.” Faced with sanctions from the European Union, Russia is working to strengthen its economic ties with the African nations.
During the height of the Cold War, Lazraq claims that “ideological Russia did not recognize the Polisario Front, let alone the nationalist Russia that seeks its economic and political interests, especially in light of the complex international circumstance that put the siege on it.”
After a period of rapprochement, he continued, “Russia is attempting to benefit from the contacts it has with Morocco, especially since Moscow has become dependent on UN Security Council resolutions to establish its stance on the Moroccan Sahara issue.”
Lazraq predicts that, despite Algeria’s efforts to have the Polisario attend, “the Russian-African summit, which will be held next July, will again exclude the separatist Polisario Front, similar to the first version in 2019 given the political pragmatism that characterizes the Kremlin Palace’s moves in the region.”
Algeria had been stunned by the summit’s initial iteration in 2019 when they learned that only UN member states were invited to participate.