ALGIERS, 9 January 2021 – The US delegation visiting Algeria discussed the disputed Western Sahara, the ceasefire in neighboring Libya and anti-terror operations across the Sahel, according to Algerian officials.

The three top US officials in the delegation are Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, and the Commander of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa, General Jeffrey Harrigian.

“We consider Algeria a candid partner… so we hope to work with you as partners,” Barret told Algerian officials during deliberations in the capital, Algiers.

Locaton of Western Sahara

Location of Western Sahara – Source Al Jazeera

US State Department officials fear that the decision last December by President Donald Trump to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco normalizing relations with Israel could seriouisly harm relations with African countries.

Algeria has clearly called out the decision last December 10 by President Trump as having no basis in international law.

Algiers has also slammed the decision as being inconsistent with United Nations resolutions.

Morocco has been battling Algeria-backed Polisario Front fighters over Western Sahara since 1975, after the end of Spanish occupation of the territory.

Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum

Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum – Courtesy Embassy of Algeria

Algiers expects the US to be “impartial” in order to advance regional and intenational peace, Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum told the US delegation Thursday during an audience in the Algerian capital.

Algerian continued to back Polisario fighters during the armed confrontation with Morrocco which ended in 1991 with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

Morocco seeks to maintain Western Sahara as an autonomous region under Rabat, but Polisario supported by the African Union and the United Nations, want a referendum to let the people determine their future.

When the ceasefire came to an end last year, Morocco resumed military operations in the El Euergarat crossing, a battle zone claimed by Morocco and the self-declared Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

The Polisario Front has called Morocco’s resumption of military operations a provocation.

Morocco has “seriously undermined… any chances of achieving peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara,” said Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, in a letter to the United Nations.

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