- HASSAN MASIKY
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Washington / Morocco Board News- The Malian security forces latest arrests of major suspected drug traffickers belonging to the Algerian backed Polisario Front come to confirm a long running accusation by the Moroccan government of collusion between the Western Sahara separatist group, Sahel bandits and the terrorist organization " Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb “(AQIM).
This development, certainly, will put more pressure on the international community to hasten finalizing the status of the [Western Sahara] provinces with the adoption of a modified version of the Moroccan Autonomy Plan. Major capitals forced to face the dangerous ramification of keeping the Algerian area of Tindouf lawless and in the hands of a [Western Sahara Separatist] militia incapable of securing an area riffled with drugs, weapons and terrorists.
This site was one of the first news organizations to disclose a possible link between some elements of the [Western Sahara Separatist group] Polisario, Sahel traffickers and AQIM. The Algerian government has been depicting these allegations as propaganda by the Morocco to discredit the Polisario. However, the news, as reported by several international news agencies, of recent violence in the Sahel and the arrest of a significant group of drug dealers composed of mostly [Western Sahara Separatist] Polisario militiamen can’t be dismissed as a mere fabrication.
Mauritanian officials and high-ranking military officers from the Sahel country of Niger also confirmed the arrest of the [Western Sahara Separatist group] Polisario drug traffickers. "This is a major drug trafficking networks in the area of the Sahara, it is called the Polisario network because it was composed over 90% of elements from the Polisario camps," according to a Nigerian security source.
In Mauritania, One man was killed and seven detained during a raid by that countries’ special forces , and were assisted by Malian officers, against another group of drug dealers closed to AQIM. "At this stage of the investigation, we can say that in Mauritania, we arrested the leaders of one of the largest networks of drug traffickers in the Sahara," said an official from Mali’s drug enforcement agency.
In Chad , another Sahel country where drug smugglers and lately AQIM elements have been active, Chadian forces intercepted in early December a shipment of arms and drug on their way North. Chad is a new front in the war against AQIM and drug traffickers.
According to the pan-African weekly “Jeune Afrique” , the drug traffickers arrested in Mali included Breika Ould Cheikh, a ranking member of the [Western Sahara Separatist group] Polisario, Hmoud Ould Ould Maatallah Farha, a former soldier living in the Saharawi refugee camps in the Tindouf area, and Ali Lahcen Ould Brahim, born in Algeria. At least of one of the suspects have already confirmed that he "delivered on several occasions food to AQIM, for financial reasons."
Confronted by of these irrefutable and mounting evidence from highly credible sources, Washington will be inclined to ask for the disbanding the Polisario, and will likely pressure the Algerian military to secure the Tindouf area to fill the security void . As the Malian and Mauritanian drug enforcement agents stated, this is the biggest bust ever of drugs in the region, but it will not be the last. AQIM has been using drug trafficking to subsidize their war in the Sahel. It is evident that t some Polisario militiamen have been involved in terrorism and drug trafficking that threaten the national security of both the Sahel and western Countries. If the issue of securing the [Western Sahara Separatist] Tindouf camps by the Algerian military is not addressed right away, more money starved Polisario elements will join the ranks of outlaws running drugs, smuggling weapons and kidnapping tourists on behalf of AQIM.