March 20, 2019
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Is Polisario linked to Sahel-Saharan Jihadists?

Links between Polisario separatist members and radical groups in the Sahel have been sparking global concern due to the rise of terror groups in the region.

Italian academic and journalist Massimiliano Boccolini warned that the presence of  Tindouf camps and Polisario is a direct “threat to stability.”

According to a report by Morroco World News, the journalist told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) on the sidelines of the ongoing  13th World Social Forum in Brazil that the “existence of the Tindouf camps and an armed Polisario militia that cooperates with jihadist organizations is a threat to stability” in the region.

Massimiliano, who co-authored  “Sahara: Desert mafia groups and jihad,” recently published by Italy’s Castelvecchi, added that the direct effects of “the overlapping of criminal activities, terrorist, and separatist organizations” may affect the security and stability of the region and European states as well.

Recalling an incident that occurred in 2011, when three  Europeans were kidnapped in Algeria at the Tindouf camps, the Italian academic discussed the links between separatist groups and the terrorist organizations emerging in the Sahel region.

Massimiliano also discussed other crimes carried out regionally by the separatists, including “all types of trafficking” and migration issues.

The Italian expert has lauded Morocco’s Autonomy Plan initiative as a potential solution to the regional discord cause be the separatist group.

According to the academic, the Autonomy Plan is the only solution to “create stability in the region.”

The 13th World Social Forum is organized by the Network of Moroccan Associations in Italy (RACMI), in partnership with the African Federation in Tuscany (FAT) and the Italian Moroccan Space for Solidarity (SMIS). The symposium offered participants with the opportunity to discuss the challenges of migration and exile.

During the event, the coordinator of the RACMI, Yassine Belkacem, compared the situation of refugees in Europe to that of the Sahrawis held in Tindouf camps.

The “concept of the Saharawi refugee is an artificial Algerian creation instrumentalized for protest against the recovery of the Sahara by Morocco, as a result of the conclusion of the Madrid Agreement between Morocco and Spain in 1975.”

Belkacem urged Europe to intervene in the situation in the same way it responds to  other refugees as “the sequestered populations in Tindouf camps are subjected to all sorts of blackmail, intimidation, separation of families, and other unbearable living conditions in the camp.”

Earlier this month, Morocco’s Head of Affairs in Geneva Hassan Boukili condemned the living situation of the Sahrawi population in the Tindouf Camps, accusing Algeria of shirking its international responsibility towards the population.

Speaking at the 71st session of the Standing Committee of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Boukili emphasized that Morocco’s eastern neighbor is, “the only country to oppose the implementation of all the feasible  solutions for the populations in the Tindouf camps.”

Boukili has urged the international community to address the causes behind the persistence of refugee-related crises, including the militarization of Tindouf camps and the exploitation of refugees to serve Algeria’s separatist agenda.

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