In a communique published 16 November, the Defence ministry of the self-claimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) reported that the forces of the Polisario Front had made ‘massive attacks’ on the same day against the Moroccan wall of defense in the Western Sahara. According to the same source, ‘exchange of fires and shelling targeted the sectors of Amlaga, Haouza, Al Farcia, Baggari and Oum Dreyga took place. These information have not been confirmed.
Besides, the King of Morocco Mohammed VI has warned 16 November against ‘all threats to the security’ of Morocco. The United Nations (UN) confirmed the exchange of fires between the separatists forces and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (FAR) during the night of 12 to 13 November in the area of Guergarat and has called for ‘self-control’. We remind you that the Front Polisario immediately declared the ‘state of war’ 13 November in reaction to a Moroccan military operation led in the border area to help the resumption of the traffic blocked by militiamen of the Polisario between Mauritania and Morocco (see our previous alerts).
Mohammed VI announced 16 November that Morocco was ‘attached to the ceasefire’ but that it would stay ‘firmly determined to react as part of its self-defence against all threats to the country’.
The Moroccan press agency (MAP) reported 15 November ‘exchanges of fires on the area of the wall of defence’. According to the forum FAR-Maroc, the Polisario Front would have made ‘harassment firing in the whole area of the defence line without causing any damages’, which provoked a retaliation action of the FAR and the ‘destruction of a weapon system east of the defence line’ near Mahbès. Some Moroccan media also reported on 17 November that the FAR were obliged to retaliate to gunfire of the Polisario near the safety feature. According to the same source, separatists are avoiding a direct confrontation with the Moroccan army and are fighting in retreat.
The UN mediation force (MINURSO) indicated 16 November that it had ‘received information from both parties concerning gunfire in different areas during the night’.
This information could be confirmed as both camps are relaying different information in the respective media agencies.
In view of the latest statements and the volatile nature of the situation, the possibility that the tension could escalate should be expected in the coming days, although no return to fighting is expected in the short term. Violence should not be ruled out. Please monitor the development of the situation.