Bahrain to open a Consulate in Laayoune

The announcement, which was made by the King of Bahrain, during a telephone conversation with the King of Morocco Mohamed VI, amounts to recognizing the legitimacy of the Moroccan presence in this territory that has been disputed for decades by the Polisario Front.

On this occasion, according to the AFP news agency, King Hamad Ben Issa al-Khalifa informed Mohamed VI of the decision of the Kingdom of Bahrain to open a Consulate General in the city of El Aaiún, a decision that will be coordinated between the Ministries of Foreign Relations of both countries.

Bahrain will open a Consulate in Laayoune, as announced on Thursday in a press release from the Moroccan royal cabinet and picked up by AFP in a context of high tensions in Western Sahara.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain will open a Consulate General in the Moroccan city of El Aaiun, a decision that will be subject to coordination between the foreign ministries of the two countries,” King Hamad said in the statement.

Bahrain’s news agency BNA, for its part, said King Hamad had expressed his country’s “support and solidarity” with Morocco “in defense of its sovereignty and rights.”

Tensions continue between the two sides

In the absence of progress in the political negotiations carried out under the aegis of the United Nations, Rabat has multiplied in recent months the actions to establish its position on the ground, with the opening of consulates or the organization of international events in the Western Sahara, increasingly provoking protests by the Polisario.

All of this arises after the Polisario’s declarations, on November 14, breaking the ceasefire and decreeing the state of war. Ending a 30-year ceasefire, in reaction to a Moroccan military operation in a buffer zone in the far south to restore road traffic cut off by Sahrawi pro-independence protesters. Brahim Ghali, secretary general of the Polisario Front, announced that the ceasefire signed with the Moroccan government in 1991, which has limited the conflict in Western Sahara, “belongs to the past,” according to France24.

The Polisario and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic are on the warpath for what they understand is an offensive by Morocco in that passage of the Guerguerat blocked for days by Sahrawi activists, which has led them to break the ceasefire. While this country denies that it is receiving attacks in its domain in Western Sahara, and defends that it will stay out of all belligerence, this was stated to the MAP news agency.

Since then, the Sahrawi Defense Ministry reported “massive attacks” along the Moroccan defense wall, in the areas of Mahbés, Haouza, Aousserd and Farsia, with “human and material damage to the enemy (…) Mortal casualties are reported in the ranks of the enemy and considerable material losses ”, in statements to the official Algerian news agency APS.

According to Le Monde Afrique, Morocco, which controls about two-thirds of Western Sahara, wants “autonomy under control” of the desert territory, while the Polisario Front, supported by Algiers, campaigns for independence and calls for a referendum on self-determination. .

International positions

In the last year, Morocco has dedicated itself to attracting consulates from allied countries in Africa to Western Sahara. In total, it has added 16 in the last year, with the addition of the first Arab country, the United Arab Emirates, followed by Jordan and now Bahrain.

According to the Moroccan media, Le360, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar expressed in a statement “the deep concern of the State of Qatar about the disruption of civil and commercial movements at the Guerguerat border post, located between Morocco and Mauritania.”

“In this chess game that lasts three decades, Morocco’s main ally has been France. Also the Spanish Administration, with a more discreet profile, has played in the corridors of the European Union and the UN in favor of Rabat. And so has Donald Trump’s America. As for the Polisario Front, its main ally and protector is Algeria. And it also has South Africa and Russia ”according to the country.

“Isn’t it the purpose of these serial opening of consulates to ratify a de facto Moroccan sovereignty over this territory? Especially because these countries have few nationals in the Sahara ”they point out in Jeune Afrique.

The African Union grants state status to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which has its own representation in Addis Ababa. In addition to Algeria, the Polisario Front enjoys the historical support of Pretoria, which took over the leadership of the pan-African institution in mid-February. During his inaugural address, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recalled his support “for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.” The Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, remains hospitalized since October 28 in Germany after testing positive for Covid and without being able to give statements.

Meanwhile, Morocco has been weaving an economic, diplomatic and religious network in Africa. He decided in 2017 to return to the African Union, the only international organization that recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a State. Hassan II had abandoned it in 1984, years later Mohamed VI, returned in order to expel the SADR. “When a body is sick, it is better to cure it inside than outside the body,” said the monarch.