Jordan today opened a consulate in the disputed Western Sahara region, according to Moroccan media reports.
The opening ceremony of the consulate in Laayoune, the largest city of Western Sahara, was attended by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi.
Jordan became the third Arab country to open a consulate in the Sahara region after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
Nineteen countries have so far opened diplomatic missions in Western Sahara – 11 in Laayoune and eight in Dakhla, a city in the disputed region.Morocco has been in conflict with the Algeria-backed separatist Polisario group over the Western Sahara since 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.
Rabat insists on its right to govern the region, but proposed autonomous rule in the Western Sahara under its sovereignty, but the Polisario Front wants a referendum to let the people determine the future of the region. Algeria has been supporting the Front's proposal and hosts refugees from the region.
The 1991 ceasefire came to an end last year after Morocco resumed military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which the Polisario said was a provocation.
By launching the operation, Morocco "seriously undermined not only the ceasefire and related military agreements but also any chances of achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara," Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, said in a letter to the UN.