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Opinion

New tour of Staffan de Mistura

Staffan de Mistura

Rabat and the Sahara, considered by Morocco as its southern provinces, were the known stages until now of the trip to the region of the United Nations special envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura. In the end, the decision has been not to travel to the Sahara and leave the limited visit to the Moroccan capital. His presence in Tindouf was not planned, where he visited last January, nor in Algiers. Undertaking the trip without visits to Algiers and Tindouf on the agenda can be seen as an invitation to the Algerian government and the Polisario Front to join the initiative to convene a new round of negotiations to try to reach a solution to the conflict that has been going on for too long. 

In recent months there have been many developments that directly influence the course of events in a region that is key to the stability of North Africa, which is the stability of the European Union. The most far-reaching is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war declared on the United States and the European Union. The recent NATO Summit in Madrid has highlighted its attention to the southern flank and the threats posed by terrorist groups operating in the Sahel, mafias trafficking in people, arms, drugs, animals and anything else that can bring them profit by collaborating with these terrorist groups, and the uncontrolled flows of migrants, encouraged in recent weeks by the drought and the hunger that is beginning to take its toll in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa due to the shortage of cereals caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the blockade of thousands of tonnes of a basic foodstuff for humans and livestock.

The movements of Russia's Wagner group in the region, especially in Mali, are of great concern to the Atlantic Alliance, as is the manipulation of hydrocarbon prices by Putin's allies such as the Algerian government. The international context has become a new Cold War scenario, following NATO's forceful reaction to Putin's challenges. A possible solution to the Sahara conflict is affected by a bloc policy that would place Algeria and the Polisario Front on the side of the aggressor Putin, whose ambition is always to gain access to the Atlantic through such a strategic location as the Sahara or Mauritania. The international dynamic of support for Morocco's proposal for autonomy for the Sahara under its sovereignty, with the latest accession of the Spanish government, has raised the need to reach a win-win solution, especially for the Saharawis who yearn for an end to the sterile suffering in Tindouf.