Algeria: Confessions of a former minister on the Sahara

Another former Algerian official said out loud what he has long been thinking about the Sahara issue.

Ali Benouari, a former Algerian Junior Minister of the Treasury, felt free to speak out after he left his position and the subsequent end of the mandatory alignment imposed by the regime on its officials.

He candidly spoke about the rivalry that poisons relations between Algeria and Morocco because of a conflict in which the Polisario plays spear-carrier.

In an article published on the portal, the former Algerian official explained that “the prolongation of the conflict between the two largest neighbors of the Maghreb, Algeria and Morocco, which has been lasting for 40 years, is now an unbearable burden for all the countries in the region”.

Whatever one may think, it must be admitted that the Western Sahara issue is the cause behind the freezing of the Maghreb construction and the tense relations between the two countries,  Ali Benouari argued.

The former minister who deemed that the current status quo can no longer go on, said that the blockage not only hinders the development of the two main protagonists in this affair, but also the integration process of the whole region.

The low level of intra-Maghreb trade (less than 2%) illustrates this deep anomaly, unique in the world between neighboring countries. An anomaly that costs 1 to 2% growth per year to each country, he stated.

The rivalry around Western Sahara has also led Algeria and Morocco into an unbridled and senseless armaments race that endangers peace in the region, he wrote.

Ali Benouari, who seemed saddened by the situation, suggested some solutions, other than the UN-led process, based on the granting of a “very broad autonomy” to the Sahara.

Ali Benouari’s confessions recall the case of the former secretary general of the FLN, Amar Saadani, who had been forced to resign in October 2016 for candid remarks on the Sahara and the Polisario.

Saadani had then called on the political leaders and senior brass to disengage from the Sahara issue, but his call raised the wrath of the Algerian establishment, to such a point that he received explicit death threats. They hate to hear the truth but the truth does hurt indeed.


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