Sahara: Polisario may foil Horst Köhler’s new tour

The UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy for the Sahara, former German President Horst Köhler arrived in Algiers on Saturday, the first leg of his new tour in the region.

The tour, from June 23 to July 1, will also take him to Nouakchott, Tindouf and Rabat before ending with a visit to Laayoune in southern Morocco. 

Experts on the Sahara issue fear however that this new tour of the UN mediator will be spoiled by the Polisario and its supporters settled in the Moroccan southern provinces, as was the case with each trip of the former mediator Christopher Ross. These supporters used to fuel tension in the Moroccan Sahara provinces, notably in Laayoune and Dakhla whenever Ross was nearby.

Emerging reports indicate that the Polisario leaders are already at work, inciting their separatist supporters to commit provocative acts of sabotage and vandalism and to brandish their old independentist slogans again during the UN mediator’s visit.

The experts believe that without the sponsorship of the Algerian regime that does not hide its hostility towards Morocco and its territorial integrity and without the Algerian petrodollars lavishly donated to the trouble-makers in the Sahara provinces and to lobbyists in Europe and the United States, the Polisario would be no more than a paper tiger.

Without Algiers’ unconditional support, the Polisario leaders would have accepted, long time ago, a consensual political settlement to the longstanding territorial conflict, comments one of the experts.

In this context and in the absence of strong pressure from the UN on the Algerian regime that holds the key for the settlement of the dispute around the Moroccan Sahara, the new mediation of Horst Köhler would be a useless exercise.

For his mediation to succeed and in order to avoid the failures of his predecessors, Köhler should harden the tone with all parties concerned by this conflict, and particularly Algeria, as a stakeholder in this conflict.