What is most concerning is the Polisario’s growing relationship with Islamic extremist groups such as Al Qaeda. The Polisario Front has been denounced by the Foreign Affairs minister for Mali for the role they played, in partnership with Islamic militants, in attacks in northern Mali. This past February, Tiéman Coulibaly, foreign minister of Mali, stated how there are now, “between 5,500 to 7,000 terrorists in northern Mali who were joined by lost youngsters, including young Sahrawis from the (Tindouf) camps.” Furthermore the Polisario front provided weapons and fighters for pro-Gadhafi forces in Libya prior to and during the NATO intervention in that nation.
The front receives a majority of its support through arms deals from the Algerian government, who has been using the group in order to create proxy conflicts and increase the role of Algeria as a regional actor. The decision of congress to create a Congressional Western Sahara Caucus ultimately demonstrates the U.S. backing of a group involved in terrorist activities in North Africa. The security threat arising from North Africa is a growing concern following the Arab spring and post-revolution developments. There has been a rapid rise in Islamic extremism and anti-U.S. sentiment, often stemming from groups with close affiliations to the Polisario Front. Considering the Polisario Front’s concerning relationships with Algeria and certain terrorist organizations, it is imperative that Washington understands and recognizes their tactics and intentions.
It is important to note the strides the Moroccan government has made in specific reference to the Polisario Front and human rights. The government has partnered with the United States to adopt strong human rights measures and has been working to solve the dispute over the Western Sahara domestically. The Congressional Western Sahara Caucus undermines the achievements and progress made by the Moroccan government and in actuality has the ability to set peace talks and negotiations between the Polisario Front and Moroccan government back several years.
Grieboski is president and CEO of Just Consulting, an international, strategic communications and government relations consulting firm with a specialty in human rights, governance, social justice, and corporate social responsibility. Just Consulting is a registered agent of the Kingdom of Morocco.