Sunday, January 23, 2011
Western Sahara under fire!
Chapter two: Western Sahara under fire
The situation in Algeria cannot be worse. In less than 24 hours after the attack on the Blida military base, suicide bombings and ambushes against the stationed troops in the major cities grow in intensity, bringing the total number of deaths to 264, this causalities having mainly occurred in the military rank.
An urgent general meeting is held in the Department of Counter-Espionage and Internal Security to study the ultimatum issued by the Security Council. The general Toufik Elamrani, main player in the Algerian stage since the fall of Bouteflika, comes up with an ambitious and dangerous plan.
In the final report signed by the assembly present at the meeting and afterwards approved by the National Intelligence Department we can read:
“…A potential offensive led by the Polisario front in the border against Moroccan troops could, according to the last report issued by the intelligence, divert the international concern toward the Western Sahara conflict, making it easier for the Algerian military to recover the calm and the order in the country.
The Algerian army, by providing Polisario fighter with technical assistance and intelligence information as well logistics without intervening military, could ultimately boost the Polisario military efficiency, and therefore pose serious trouble to the Moroccan national security. The breach in Moroccan Security will allow the Algerian troops to conduct intrusions in the Moroccan territory and gather field data as well as intelligence information able to be exploited in any future clash with the neighboring country. The operation should be top secret at the present stage in order to preserve the surprise effect of the attack, and therefore assure a temporary advance to the Polisario fighters…”
The plan, codenamed ‘Western Sahara under fire’ was to be launched 2 hours before the end of the Security Council ultimatum, which left less than a day and a half for Polisario front to get ready for the final attack.
During this time, a flow of intelligence data were sent to the Moroccan Directorate for Territorial Surveillance from allies’ intelligence services. Alerts from the United States, France and Britain were issued to the Moroccan government, warning it from a potential military operation in the next 36 hours against its troops in the southern provinces led by Polisario fighters and Algerian agents undercover.
The army general Ahmed Belfakir orders the troops in the borders to keep a high alert level and expect an offensive in the south east area in the borders with Algeria, exactly starting from Tindouf airbase and expanding through the North until the Polisario troops break in the Moroccan territory. The intrusion is more likely to be followed by missile strikes targeting the cities of Agadir and Tata.
A quick defense strategy is drafted in the secret corridors of the DTS and approved by the King Mohamed VI, and the only thing left to do is basically waiting for the war to start.
The morning of the 1st March, at exactly 5:00 am, the first bullets are shot in the border between Morocco and Algeria. Katyusha rockets are fired toward Agadir after 5 minutes of the start of hostilities. Small armed groups trespass the borders at different points, engaging the stationed Moroccan soldiers and throwing grenades at military posts. The firing between the two sides last for more than 5 hours, and supported from the inside of Moroccan territory by separatists groups in Laayoun, Polisario fighters succeed in penetrating the borders, arriving to the doors of Laayoun where they find tactical support and potential recruits for the fights.
Internal violence explodes in the southern Moroccan provinces between Moroccans and Pro-Polisario Sahrawi civilians, leading to an instable situation in the area where fights were raging between Polisario and Morocco, bringing fear from a civil war at a time when the whole region was about to collapse.
In an attempt to bring the conflict to an end, Morocco decides to take the hard decision of striking inside the Algerian territory, targeting the main base of operation of the Polisario small army. The plan is encouraged by the U.S and assurances are given to Moroccan authorities that Algeria will not intervene military in the conflict.
At 11:30 am, the Moroccan army executes the plan by a wide firing of the Tindouf airbase, using different sorts of missiles; from the latest US acquired Tomahawks to the old Triskolovski short range AT-850 rockets. The surprise effect the Polisario hoped for vanished when the Moroccan army, already prepared for the clash and supported by its allies through satellite communication information and live images of the battlefield burst into the Algerian territory, taking hold of Tindouf city and destroying completely the missile launching platforms in Tindouf airbase. The situation in Laayoun is not better, where after a bloody intervention of the police and the army, the calm is recovered but at the expense of huge losses in lives and properties.
In a wise step to not push the conflict to a wider armed disaster between the Algerian and Moroccan army, Morocco issued an immediate order for troops to withdraw from the Algerian territory and bring back the prisoners of war to the nearest base, and reinforced his military presence in the North in order to prevent any Algerian intrusion.
The withdrawal is followed by a UN appeal to a cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario, as well as a call from the international community to the Algerian officials to stop any kind of assistance to the Polisario front.
Facing a growing pressure, the Algerian military issue an official statement condemning the Polisario offensive and denying any implication in the matter, arguing that the Officials in Alger didn’t know about any plans for a military intervention in the borders.
…To be continued
Mohamed Amine Belarbi