The dangerous game of Algiers behind the cancellation of the stopover of Staffan de Mistura in Laâyoune?

On a visit to Morocco, the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara issue, Staffan de Mistura, did not stop in Laayoune in the end. His agenda has not been revealed since the start of this visit, which does not concern Algeria, the second party to the dispute, nor Mauritania or even the Polisario militia.

The Italo-Swedish has given up visiting Laayoune, capital of the southern Moroccan provinces, and this cancellation of a stopover announced behind the scenes, has not been explained either by Morocco or by the UN.

Nevertheless, the UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, announced on Tuesday that a next visit to the Sahara will be organised. It should be noted that the Personal Envoy was to make a regional tour among the 4 parties to the conflict, in May, but no date has been communicated on this subject.

Staffan de Mistura, has chosen to come only to Morocco for the resumption of his emissary agenda after a break in his activities following a coronavirus infection. This visit, which does not include Algeria, the second party to the dispute, is explained by the recent events that have marked the Sahara issue.

Algeria, host country of the Sahrawi separatist movement it created to threaten the territorial integrity of Morocco, announced at the last meeting of the UN Security Council that it did not wish to continue the format of political negotiations round tables, set up by the former Personal Envoy, Horst Kohler.

Algiers had however indeed participated in this format until 2019, through several rounds of negotiations. This formula is favored by the UN, which is seeking a political solution based on compromise to put an end to the dispute.

But faced with the many positive developments experienced by the file, which today seems to be on the way to a definitive solution approved by the international community, the Algerian regime seemed to want to block this international momentum by putting the UN process in the dead end.

During the meeting between Staffan de Mistura and the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, on Tuesday in Rabat, Morocco for its part reaffirmed its attachment to the round table process to which Algeria had adhered.

Rabat has already indicated it in the past, for the Kingdom, Algeria is the real party to the dispute and therefore the dialogue must take place directly between the two neighbors. For its part, Algiers seeks to shirk this historical responsibility which is still relevant, by pushing on the contrary, the Polisario militia to take its place in an attempt to confer legitimacy on it.

The roundtable process was therefore obviously one of the main topics of discussion among diplomats on Tuesday. The meeting was marked by the presence of Omar Hilale, Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, and Redouane Houssaini, United Nations director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Staffan de Mistura will have spent 4 days in Morocco for this visit, and he was not received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs until the 4th day. The agenda of his stay has not been revealed by the UN, with the exception of the cancellation of the stopover in Laâyoune.

This cancellation can be explained by the anger of the Algerian regime which was not associated with the visit of de Mistura, and also by the sensitivity of the place. Algeria and its relay, the Polisario militia, could take this visit as a statement of position towards Morocco on the part of the diplomat. The separatists do not hide it from elsewhere. Members of the Security Council and the UN in general are often accused of bias by the separatist movement armed and financed by Algiers.

And in the current context, in which Algeria has focused on the subject of round tables, and has embarked on a diplomatic conflict with Spain, a former colonial power in the Sahara which has positioned itself in favor of Morocco , the task seems even more laborious for the UN envoy.

Nevertheless, Staffan de Mistura continues to pursue his mission with a view to advancing the political process, and that is why he went to Morocco, which remains the only reasonable first-rate interlocutor in the dossier in given the blockage in Algeria, but a future visit to Algiers cannot be ruled out.

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