Algeria rejects Western Sahara talks

Algeria rejects Western Sahara talks

Morocco regards the entirety of Western Sahara as an integral part of its territory and has offered autonomy there while strongly ruling out independence

Algeria ruled out Friday a return to the round-table talks on Western Sahara, days after the United Nations appointed a new envoy to the conflict.

"We affirm our official and irrevocable rejection of the so-called round table formula," Algerian envoy for Western Sahara Amar Blani told APS.

Algeria is seen as the main supporter of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence in the disputed region, which is mostly controlled by Morocco, Algeria's arch-rival.

The International Crisis Group wrote this month that "Rabat regards Western Sahara as a regional issue and the Polisario as the Algerian proxy," implying that Morocco wants Algeria on the table in any talks.

But some Polisario officials are calling for a return to bilateral talks over what they see as a "struggle by the colonial population for national liberation from a colonial power," as the International Crisis Group report explained.

The last UN-led peace talks in 2019 involved senior officials from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front.

But they were frozen after UN envoy Horst Koehler resigned from the post in May 2019.
He was finally replaced this month by veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura. The Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the MINURSO peace mission by October 27, and may call for new round-table talks.

But Blaney said that Algeria told the council that it rejects the "severely unbalanced" and "counterproductive" formula, warning that it will frustrate de Mistura's efforts.

He accused Rabat of trying to "evade describing the issue of Western Sahara as an issue of decolonization and portraying it as an artificial regional conflict."

Tensions between Rabat and Algeria have risen since Morocco normalized relations with Israel last year

He gained US recognition of his sovereignty over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony rich in phosphates and fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean.

Algeria, which has long supported the Palestinian cause and the Polisario Front, in August severed diplomatic ties with its rival due to

"Hostile acts", including alleged spying on its officials - accusations Morocco rejects.

The confrontation also came after the Polisario declared a three-decade ceasefire "null and void" after a Moroccan incursion to break a blockade on a highway to Mauritania.

Pilani urged the United Nations to take the issue seriously. "We must realize that the risks of escalation are serious," he said. Peace and stability in the region are at stake.