Opinion

Switzerland offers to bring together the parties to the Western Sahara conflict

Western Sahara

The offer made by the Swiss federal government "to the parties in conflict" in the Western Sahara crisis seems destined to fail. While the Moroccan government views the proposal with interest, the Polisario Front remains silent, and Algeria has responded in the negative. "The round-table formula is doomed to failure, and our country does not accept it", declared Amar Belani, special representative of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for the Western Sahara issue.

The Swiss government has shown its willingness to host further meetings between the four guests in previous discussions, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and the Polisario Front, following the appointment of the Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura as UN Secretary General António Guterres' special envoy for Western Sahara.

The novelty of this Swiss offer, however, and which is curiously being passed over in silence by the other parties, is that Switzerland has for the first time included "another Saharawi interlocutor", in addition to the Polisario Front, in the letter informing them of the Swiss proposal. 

Indeed, the head of the Department for the Middle East and North Africa of the Swiss Foreign Ministry, Maya Tissafi, wrote to the head of international relations of the Sahrawi Movement for Peace (MSP), Mohamed Abdullah, in which she reiterated the Swiss government's conviction that "only through negotiation can a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution be reached".

The novel handling of the offer of meetings to be held on Swiss territory has created strong unease both in Algiers and in Tindouf, because for the first time a government is 'de facto' questioning the unique representativity of the Saharawi population by the Polisario Front movement. Ambassador Maya Tissafi does not say in her letter that the MSP will also be invited, but the fact that she includes it among the recipients of the information means that she considers that it "represents a Sahrawi sector" to be considered. 

The Security Council is due to meet before the end of the month, and the resolution it adopts on Western Sahara will be considered as the proposed action plan of the new special envoy, welcomed by Morocco, Mauritania, and the Saharawi MSP, but with clear mistrust on the part of Algeria and the Polisario Front.