Polisario and Islamist drift ?

In its annual report, of October 2008, the ESISC (European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center) draws a diagnosis of the Polisario Front movement, in the light of the international context of the African North-East region and analyses its strength and weakness and also its contacts with the active forces in the region, such as Al-Qaïda and the organized crime, fed by the influence zones of the active terrorist groups as well as the prevailing insecurity and impunity. A multitude of persons and foreign tourists kidnapping, required ransoms, weapons and drugs smuggling, illegal immigration networks that worry the adjacent states and the international public opinion.
The analysis conducted under the direction of Claude Moniquet, President of the ESISC, shows that the Polisario Front, after 36 years of existence and struggle, is in full internal decline and might continue in a dangerous drift, started many years before, for the region’s stability, by getting close to the Islamist terrorism and the organized crime, still active in this part of the world. It should be reminded that North Africa has become a favorable ground for the radical Islamist movement, and more particularly Al-Qaïda. For this purpose, the GSPC (Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) has claimed in 2007 its incorporation into the world organization of Al Qaïda bearing henceforth the name of Tanzim al-Qaïda bi-Biladi al-Maghrib al-Islami (AQIM).

Besides, a former leader of the Polisario Front, Hamatti Rabani, has clearly stated, already in 2005, that the Polisario is in a situation of total failure, as the majority of its leaders and veterans have either joined the other party, in this case Morocco, or have switched to business in the neighboring countries, Morocco and Mauritania. As for the young people, they are lost in the current direction of the separatist movement and are more influenced by the Islamist ideology, even Salafist in vogue in the region. Having lost any hope, these young people turn away from their leaders towards God. He emphasized, “God Fill the emptiness left by the backward-looking ideology of the Polisario direction.”
This trend is increasingly intensified and Lahmada camps in Algeria constitute now a fertile and favourable incubator for recruitment and indoctrination of the young Sahrawis by the Tanzim, which owns training camps near Mali. It could also be accelerated and expanded, as the two movements are complementary and have common goals and a common enemy, Morocco. They tend to destabilize Morocco in order to make it cede and weaken Mauritania or make it implode, as it is an essential door towards the Sub-Saharan Africa. In this regard, it should be reminded that Mauritania has always been the favourite target of Al-Qaïda in the region where terrorist actions are regularly carried out. As proof of such collusion between the two movements, the attack on the Mauritanian military barracks of Lamghiti on June 4, 2004, using the Polisario vehicles and even soldiers, as the use of the Hassani dialect spoken in Mauritania and in Tindouf camps, has been noticed. Another proof has been brought in November 2007 with the dismantling in Mali of a terrorist group including members in the Polisario’s pay.
In addition, the embezzlement of international aid for the benefit of the Polisario’s leading caste has plunged Sahrawi camps into extreme poverty, contributing hence to the enhancement of crime and banditry. The Polisario, loosing popularity, even legitimacy has been led to use more violence against opponents and to buy more and more others’ membership with money or gifts. For this, the movement has resorted to all kinds of trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration to Europe.
Polisario’s involvement in human beings trafficking is well known and is included in the UN Secretary General’s reports.
In any case, the anarchy reigning in this part of Africa, in countries such as Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Mali and Niger and the impunity prevailing there considerably fosters the development of all trafficking, such as that of drugs and of Latin America networks, as well as the expansion of terrorism that has no longer boundaries or nationalities. This situation constitutes in itself a serious threat to peace and security in the North-West African region, because trafficking as well as radical and fighting Islamism convergence is susceptible to erupt the region into violence, encouraged by the loss of any peace prospect for the Sahara conflict and by the Polisario leaders’ and their Algerian sponsor’s extremism
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