Algeria’s uneasiness worsened by Polisario’s gaffes

Algerian authorities have surely been feeling very uncomfortable lately. Algiers has actually been repeatedly warned by western intelligence services that the Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf were becoming a safe haven and a transit spot for terrorists and other traffickers of all kinds.
The Algerian authorities’ uneasiness has upped a notch after the publication last Tuesday of the US State Department country report on terrorism 2011. The report deplores the Algerian power’s lack of cooperation with its Moroccan neighbor in regional struggle against terrorism.
Things got even worse for the Algerians when the Spanish government unexpectedly decided to repatriate Spanish humanitarian volunteers from the Tindouf camps. Spanish diplomacy said the decision was dictated by the insecurity prevailing in the whole region and fears to see more Spanish nationals kidnapped after the abduction of three aid workers in the camps of Tindouf last October. A 15 million euro ransom has just been paid to obtain the liberation of the three hostages, two Spaniards, Ainhoa Fernandez and Enric Gonyalons, and an Italian national, Rossella Urru.

To cast away the suspicions looming on the Polisario front and its leaders, Algerian authorities proceeded to a profound shake-up in the current military and security apparatus in the Tindouf camps. They discharged the Polisario militias of any military and security task, and entrusted the Algerian army and security services with setting up checkpoints everywhere around the refugee camps. The Algerian authorities’ move is meant to block the road to the traffickers who transit via this zone and also to prevent the Sahrawi refugees from fleeing the Tindouf camps to northern Mali to join the fighters of Al Qaïda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
With the decrease of international assistance to the camps and the scarcity of jobs or money-earning activities in Tindouf, numerous deprived young Sahrawi refugees give in easily to the offer made by AQIM recruiters.
According to pundits, in view of the latest developments, Algiers would be losing its battle against the kingdom of Morocco in the thorny issue of the Western Sahara.



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