CASABLANCA - Former Secretary General of Algeria’s National Liberation Front (FLN) Amar Saadani dropped a bombshell when he revealed that the disputed Western Sahara is Moroccan.
“The Sahara is Moroccan and this issue must end, while Algeria and Morocco must open their borders and normalise their relations,” Saadani told the Algerian news website Tout sur L’Algerie.
“To be honest, I consider, from a historical point of view, that the Sahara is Moroccan and nothing else. It was snatched from Morocco at the Berlin Congress,” said Saadani.
“Also, I think that Algeria has poured for fifty years huge sums to what is called the Polisario and this organisation did nothing and failed to break the impasse,” he said.
The Polisario fought a war with Morocco from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed and a UN peacekeeping force called MINURSO was deployed to monitor the truce in the former Spanish colony.
The mission was to prepare a referendum on Western Sahara's independence from Morocco, but it never materialised.
Morocco, which annexed the territory after Spain withdrew in 1975, considers Western Sahara an integral part of the kingdom and has offered autonomy, but not an independence referendum.
Last year, Moroccan King Mohammed VI made an overture to Algeria to settle differences between the two neighbouring countries. But Algiers turned deaf ear to his call.
Saadani said the relationship between Algeria and Morocco is greater than the Sahara question.
“I think that the situation is favorable because there is the election of a new president and the change of system in Tunisia, Algeria is moving towards an election and a change of system, Libya also is undergoing a transformation,” he said.
“All this can help revive Maghreb unity as desired by veterans of the FLN and all nationalist parties, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and all of North Africa,” he added.
Saadani stressed that the Sahara issue must come to an end and that Algeria and Morocco must open their borders and normalise their ties.
Algeria closed its border with Morocco in 1994 after Rabat accused the Algerian intelligence services of complicity in the deadly attack on the Atlas Asni hotel in Marrakech.
Algiers is conditioning the reopening of the border with a cooperation agreement in the fight against drug trafficking and illegal immigration.
Saadani’s statement is expected to cause outrage among Algeria’s pro-Polisario media 11 days after they slammed the campaign office of Algerian presidential hopeful Azeddine Mihoubi for publishing a map of the Maghreb region where Western Sahara was embedded in Morocco.
“For a party that has always advocated, and often zealously, the official policy of Algeria on the Saharawi question, this omission, premeditated or involuntary, is inexplicable and unforgivable,” wrote news website Algerie Patriotique.