Algiers Becomes Officially the Polisario’s Spokesman

The reaction of the Algerian Foreign Ministry to a dispatch from Agence France Press (AFP) on the war in Mali looks like a wolf coming out of the woods. Algerian officials who recurrently deny any involvement in the Western Sahara issue have all of a sudden jumped in to defend the Polisario on behalf of the Polisario itself. In a dispatch from its Bamako bureau on the Jihadists’ routing in northern Mali and their withdrawal to neighboring countries, AFP reported that “part of the Islamists have left the Malian territory and sought refuge elsewhere.” Quoting military sources on the spot, the Agency gave more details: “Many fighters” of the Movement for the uniqueness and jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the three armed Islamist groups which occupied northern Mali for several months in 2012, “returned to the camps of the Polisario,” a Western Sahara separatist movement. “These camps have been settled for decades in the Tindouf region (western Algeria).” That was enough to provoke the wrath of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose spokesman Amar Belani, let loose with a storm of invectives against the AFP. In a statement to APS, the Algerian official news agency, Amar Belani described the AFP as “a gross disinformation enterprise” and said this dispatch is not the first of the kind on the war in Mali.

Since Jihadists invaded northern Mali, AFP has regularly disseminated dispatches and stories on the evolution of the situation. The agency has repeatedly quoted Malian civilian and military officials talking about documented connections between extremist groups and Polisario fighters. Western pundits have also unveiled these links and many among them believe that the withdrawal of armed groups from northern Mali to Libya and the Polisario camps in Algeria is behind the recent statements made by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and his Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara, Christopher Ross. The two men have both stressed the urgent need to reach a quick settlement of the Western Sahara conflict.

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