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Algeria refutes Morocco's claims of Hezbollah-Polisario ties

A Saharawi man holds up a Polisario Front flag in the Al-Mahbes area near Moroccan soldiers guarding the wall separating the Polisario controlled Western Sahara from Morocco on 3 February 2017. [STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images]
A Saharawi man holds up a Polisario Front flag near Moroccan soldiers guarding the wall separating the Polisario controlled Western Sahara from Morocco on 3 February 2017 [STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images]

The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday refuted the Moroccan ambassador to Geneva's allegations that the Lebanese Hezbollah group supports the Polisario Front.

Algeria's Special Envoy in charge of Western Sahara and Maghreb countries, Amar Belani, denounced the "lies" and "gross manipulation" by Morocco's ambassador to Geneva after his remarks about an alleged "presence of Hezbollah instructors in the refugee camps in Tindouf".

He said that the allegations "stem from a set of misleading lies … caused by the Moroccan regime's isolation in international institutions over its human rights violations in the Sahrawi region."

According to the Algerian diplomat, in 2018, Morocco severed its diplomatic ties with Iran under the pretext that it supports the Polisario Front, as an excuse to reap the "fruits and benefits from regional and non-regional partners".

Belani explained that the Moroccan allegations have all been refuted.

The Algerian official's response came after the Moroccan ambassador to Geneva sent letters to the ambassadors of several countries in which he claimed that there is evidence that "Hezbollah supports the Sahrawi army in the refugee camps in Tindouf."

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.

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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.

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