The current visit of King Mohammed VI to Washington at the invitation of President Obama is closely followed abroad and especially in the Tindouf camps in Algeria.
Since the announcement of the visit, many people in the Tindouf camps took to the streets brandishing Moroccan flags and banners showing slogans in Arabic and French such as “Long live King Mohammed VI” “Mohamed Abdelaziz & Co go away,” “We claim the end of the ordeal and the return to the land of our ancestors in Morocco,” “the Polisario and Algeria with its oil gave us nothing”, “Yes to autonomy”.
These demonstrations were dispersed quickly and brutally by the Polisario militiamen who were armed with clubs and tear gas, a young activist, member of the Forum of Support to Autonomy Advocates in Tindouf (FORSATIN) told us over the phone. The militiamen were receiving orders from officers of the Algerian army, he said.
According to this young Sahrawi activist, since Wednesday the royal visit to Washington is the topic of all conversations in the camps.
Many pro-Morocco Sahrawis pin great hopes that this visit would end their sufferings and that they would finally be able to return to their homeland and reunite with their families.
In view of the hustle and bustle stirred by the royal visit, a curfew was decreed and militias and mobile units of the Algerian army banned any entry to or exit from the camps. The Polisario and its mentors try, through these measures, to hamper the holding of mass demonstrations which would be perceived abroad as a support for Morocco.
According to our interlocutor, an unemployed Cuban degree holder, information from Algiers indicate that Algerian leaders, elected officials and media are all waiting for the decisions the White House might make on the occasion of King Mohammed VI’s visit.
They fear that Morocco, a strategic U.S. ally, would hit the jackpot by getting Washington’s unconditional support in the Sahara conflict and a pioneering role in the stabilization and security efforts in the entire MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and Sahel- Sahara regions. Such decisions will mean a death warrant for the hegemonic ambitions of the Algerian regime that seeks to impose its diktat in the Maghreb and the Sahel at the expense of the legitimate interests of its Moroccan neighbor.