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A handout picture published by the Royal Moroccan Army Facebook page on November 13, 2020, shows tents used by the Polisario Front ablaze near the Mauritanian border in Guerguerat located in the Western Sahara, along the road leading to Mauritania, after the intervention of the royal Moroccan armed forces. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Several Arab countries have thrown their weight behind Morocco’s action to secure a major route in the Western Sahara linking the kingdom to neighbouring Mauritania.

The Moroccan army Friday unleashed an operation in the Guerguerat buffer zone obstructed by the Polisario Front militia that claims independence of the Sahara. Since October 21, the rebels have blocked Moroccan trucks from moving via the crossing, prompting the kingdom to initiate the operation to stop what Morocco described as “dangerous and unacceptable provocations” from the Polisario Front.

The vital crossing is now fully secured for people’s and goods traffic, according to the Moroccan army.

The UAE was among the Arab countries that have voiced “solidarity” with and “support” for the Moroccan move.

The UAE Foreign Ministry said the country supports Moroccan King VI’s decision to “put an end to the illegal incursion” into Guerguerat and to secure the “natural flow” of goods and people’s movement between Morocco and Mauritania.

The UAE also denounced “provocations, and desperate and unacceptable practices” since October 21 in the buffer zone, saying they constituted a “blatant violation of concluded agreements and a genuine threat” to regional stability. “The UAE renews its continued support to the kingdom of Morocco in all measures it deems necessary to defend the integrity and security of its lands and citizens,” the ministry added in a statement.

Saudi Arabia has also expressed backing for the Moroccan moves and condemned “any practices threatening the traffic movement” at the Guerguerat crossing.

Other Arab countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan, have voiced similar backing for the Moroccan moves.

Morocco regained control of the Western Sahara from the Spanish colonialists in 1975. A year later, the Polisario Front emerged and pushed for dominating the phosphate-rich territory. The rebel movement took up arms against Morocco until 1991 when both sides signed a ceasefire.

The rebel chief Brahim Ghali has said his militia is no longer committed to the ceasefire and will resume fighting after the Moroccan operation, the Sahara Press Service, a Polisario mouthpiece, reported Saturday.