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Is Morocco China’s Next Target?

Xi Jinping, fresh from diplomatic triumphs in the Persian Gulf, South America, and Europe, is turning his attention to other areas, including four countries in North Africa.

In North Africa, Morocco is locked into a decades-long struggle with Algeria and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguiet el-Hamra and Rio de Oro. The group, better known as the Polisario Front, is essentially an Algerian proxy that controls the SADR, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

“Beijing is channeling money through Iran and its proxies to Morocco’s enemies, especially the Polisario,” Jonathan Bass, who follows China in the region for energy consultant InfraGlobal Partners, told Newsweek. “Xi Jinping is fueling an armed insurrection he hopes to get credit for ending, on terms favorable to enemies of America and friends of Chinese interests.”

Not so, says Suzanne Scholte, co-chair of the Campaign to End the Moroccan Occupation of the Western Sahara. “The Sahrawi founded a republic with a constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution,” she said to this publication. “The People’s Republic of China has funded their colonizers, the Kingdom of Morocco. They’ve never helped the Polisario.”

At stake is the barren Western Sahara, claimed by both Morocco, which calls it the Southern Provinces, and the SADR. Morocco exercises control over the disputed area. Algeria backs the SADR and the Polisario with money, weapons, and military training.

There has long been a bloody struggle over Western Sahara, especially since 1975. Spain controlled the territory until that year, when it handed the area over to Morocco and Mauritania. The following year, the Polisario declared the establishment of the SADR. The United Nations that year affirmed the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi people. A referendum for control of the territory has been postponed and thus far never held.

Source: newsweek