//NUEVO INFORME SEÑALA IMPLICACIÓN DEL POLISARIO EN LA REGIÓN SAHELO-SAHARIANA

NUEVO INFORME SEÑALA IMPLICACIÓN DEL POLISARIO EN LA REGIÓN SAHELO-SAHARIANA

Un nuevo informe europeo señala la implicación del Polisario en actos terroristas en la región Sahelo-sahariana.

La participación del Polisario en actos terroristas en la región sahelo-sahariana fue nuevamente desvelada en un informe, esta vez financiado por la Comisión Europea, que confirma la colusión de los separatistas con grupos terroristas que activan en la región.

Según este estudio del “Proyecto Safte”, un proyecto de investigación internacional sobre el acceso de terroristas al comercio ilegal de armas de fuego, que fue recogido el miércoles por el Instituto Flamenco para la Paz, la región de Sahel registró incidentes violentos en los que participaron MUJAO, el Polisario y Ansaru Din durante el período 2010-2016.

El informe titulado “Mercados ilícitos y adquisición de armas de fuego por redes terroristas en Europa”, elaborado por un grupo internacional de expertos en armas de fuego, destaca que la colusión entre el Polisario y los grupos terroristas presentes en la región fue facilitada por la situación en Libia, la porosidad de las fronteras y la incapacidad de los poderes centrales de algunos países de la región de controlar su vasto territorio.

Para “Proyecto Safte”, la disponibilidad y la circulación de armas en el mercado negro en la región proliferó considerablemente después de la caída del régimen de Muamar Gadafi además de los conflictos que persisten en este país, anotando que el Polisario se benefició mucho de esta situación y actualmente dispone de un “exceso de armas”.

Además de su implicación en actos terroristas, el Polisario, que gracias al apoyo de Argelia y después de la caída del régimen de Gadafi en Libia, se dotó de un arsenal relativamente relevante, ahora se dedica a la actividad altamente lucrativa del tráfico ilegal y la venta de armas.

Según el informe, “El Polisario ahora tiene suficientes armas para vender y abastecer el mercado regional”.

También, indica el documento, en ausencia de una solución al problema del Sáhara, esta zona no es inmune al contrabando y al tráfico de armas, precisando que es difícil determinar cuántas armas están circulando en el contexto de inestabilidad causada por la situación en Libia. 

Este informe proporciona una visión general de la información disponible actualizada y datos sobre la circulación ilícita de armas en la amplia región de África del Norte. Geopolíticamente, la ONU en su definición de África del Norte incluye siete países o territorios: Argelia, Egipto, Libia, Marruecos, Sudán, Túnez y Sahara Occidental. Sin embargo, en línea con la definición habitual de los países del norte de África como vecinos del sur de Europa, este informe no se centrará en Sudán. No obstante, dado que los brazos recirculan desde y hacia países vecinos, el informe se referirá a los países sahelianos cuando sea pertinente.

1- Dynamics of firearms trafficking and Proliferation – All the selected countries have severe laws regulating firearms possession. Generally speaking, the law does not guarantee the right to private gun ownership, and civilian possession is regulated through licensing systems and background checks on applicants. In Egypt and Tunisia, the applicant should also demonstrate a ‘genuine reason’ to hold a firearm. Civilian use of long guns is forbidden in Egypt.11 In Libya, civilian gun ownership was entirely prohibited under Qaddafi,12 and the selling or transfer of arms was prohibited. Despite gun ownership being illegal in Libya, in 2007 civilians owned nearly twice as many guns as the military and police: civilian firearms were numbered at about 900,000, military firearms at 535,200 and police firearms at 22,000.13 In 2010, estimated civilian gun possession rates in North Africa ranged from Africa’s lowest in Tunisia (0.1 firearms per 100 people) to one of Africa’s highest in Libya (15.5). The remainder range from 3.5 per 100 people in Egypt to 7.6 in Algeria – excluding Western Sahara, for which no figures are available.14 An important observation is that most of the firearms in circulation originate from outside the region: Egypt is the only known manufacturer of small arms in the region (it was categorised as a medium-sized small arms producer in 2001)15, while Algeria only manufactures ammunition. Libya, Morocco and Tunisia have no arms industries, while in Libya it is prohibited by law to produce arms.16 Interestingly, the proliferation and circulation patterns of weapons vary widely across North African countries. Each country features diverse dynamics mainly due to its geopolitical position and heterogeneous monopoly of force in each country, as well as the role of the army and government expenditure on firearms. In Egypt and Libya, the political and security situation remains unstable and volatile, with various armed groups in play and a consequent demand for weapons. The upswing of fighting in Libya in 2014 is still under way at the time of this writing, with a multitude of armed groups active in various coalitions, an internationally recognised government that is unable to exert control beyond a small part of the capital city, and the attempt of General Khalifa Haftar’s ‘Libyan National Army’ to acquire larger territorial control in the south (Fezzan) and west of the country, after ‘reconquering’ the east (Cyrenaica). In Egypt, Islamist militants and security forces continued to clash in the Sinai, while new armed groups appeared in 2016. In Tunisia, despite targeted political assassinations and armed clashes between violent extremists and security forces, the use of firearms has remained relatively low even after the revolution of 2011. Morocco and Algeria are both among the largest importers of arms in Africa. While Morocco does not report significant violent episodes or seizures of firearms, Algerian authorities regularly report on the numerous arms seizures and counter-terrorism operations in the country, especially along its borders with Libya, Mali and Niger. In Western Sahara, the Polisario Front maintains active armed forces and has a surplus of weaponry.17 Morocco has a heavy military presence in Western Sahara, but the area is not impervious to smuggling activities and small-arms trafficking.18  In recent years the civilian possession of firearms has increased significantly in some countries, mainly due to this unstable and volatile political and security situation. Determining how many weapons entered circulation after Qaddafi’s fall is a very difficult exercise. The UN has estimated that Qaddafi’s army was in control of 250,000 to 700,000 weapons as of 2011, of which 70-80% were assault rifles.19 According to British intelligence, more than one million tons of weapons were looted after Qaddafi fell.20 And while the international community has made efforts to check the proliferation of weapons from post-Qaddafi Libya, those efforts are primarily focused on certain types of weapons, e.g. chemical weapons and man-portable air defence systems; less attention was (and still is) devoted to the proliferation of small arms. In the aftermath of 2011, Libyan authorities have implemented voluntary firearms surrender schemes and weapons seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation. Several small-scale civilian disarmament initiatives were launched in 2012, but with limited results, and the authorities have been slow to introduce control measures for civilian weapons ownership.21 Instead of a decline, there has been an alarming increase in the level of new weapons in the country.22 As a general trend in illicit firearms markets, some of the weapons that reach terrorists and criminal organisations are produced by illegal manufacturers, but most firearms are diverted from legal production and at some point were leaked into the illegal market. Licit firearms can be diverted during transportation; by leakage from factories, government stockpiles or individual owners; trafficked from abroad; or converted to illicit, lethal-purpose firearms through reactivation, modification

 Table 1: Seizures in Algeria, 2016

Firearms

Kalashnikov automatic rifles 668

FMPK machine guns 48

Mortars 37

Hunting rifles 82

Semi-automatic rifles with telescopic sight 35

Shotguns 26

Simonov semi-automatic rifles 64

RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade 18

RPK machine guns 16

Machine guns 12.7 mm 13

Machine guns 14.5 mm 7

Repeating rifle 36

PKT machine guns 9

PSH machine guns 2

Dictariov machine guns 5

M16 machine guns 1

MAT44 machine guns 4

3-cannons rocket launcher 1

Strela rocket launcher 1

RPG-5 rocket propelled grenade 5

RPG-2 rocket launcher 2

Anti-aircraft missile 6

Artisanal hand-crafted rifles 56

Automatic pistols of various types 35

RPD machine gun 1

MAT-49 machine gun 1

MAS-36 rifles 3

Grenades 792

Source: UNSC Panel of Experts (2017, annex 47)

 Table 2: Seizures in Algeria, 1st semester 2016

Arms

Grad missiles 2

Mortars 6

RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade 3

RPG-2 rocket propelled grenade 3

SPG-9 cannons 2

Machine guns 14.5 mm 7

Machine guns 12.7 mm 6

FMPK machine guns 12

PKT machine guns 4

Kalashnikov automatic rifles 167

RPK machine guns 5

Simonov semi-automatic rifles 26

MAT-49 machine guns 1

MAS-39 rifles 2

Dictariov machine guns 4

Automatic pistols 15

Sniper rifles 3

Shotguns 1

Hunting rifles 46

Repeating rifles 15

Artisanal hand-crafted rifles 3

Source: El Djeich n.648, July 2017

According to Algerian authorities, petty criminals, terrorists and criminal networks carry out trafficking.76 In our analysis of news sources, the subjects involved in seizures are often unidentified ‘smugglers’ or ‘terrorists’. In terms of active armed groups, in 2016 AQIM, Soldiers of the Caliphate (Jund al-Khilafa), and Islamist militias were involved in violent incidents, mostly attacks on security forces. While AQIM has been active in Algeria since the 1990s, with attacks peaking in 2010-2013, the Soldiers of the Caliphate armed group has been active more recently, since 2014. In previous years there were a few violent incidents involving the Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO), the Polisario Front and Ansar Dine.77

 1.6 Morocco and Western Sahara – According to our analysis of press articles, there are only a few cases of arms seizures in Morocco/Western Sahara, and they point to ISIS affiliates. Less than 50nviolent incidents91 were reported by ACLED in the period 2010-2016, involving MUJAO, AQIM, al-Qaeda and the Polisario Front. The ceasefire negotiated by the UN and accepted by Morocco and the Polisario Front in 1991 is still in force, despite a number of occasional minor violations on both sides. Due to the support of certain states, notably Algeria and Libya, the Polisario Front was equipped with a relatively large arsenal, and this has been expandedfurther with weapons seized from the Moroccan Army. The movement has now enough weapons of its own to be able to sell some and to supply the regional market.

In the absence of a settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara, the Polisario Front has kept most of its weapons, and the months that followed the 1991 ceasefire saw hundreds of Polisario fighters cross the border to sell their excess weapons in Mauritania. According to an official Mauritanian source, the Polisario Front represents one of the leading suppliers of illegal weapons to Mauritania.92 In the north of Mauritania, cross-border trafficking of Soviet-type weapons with Western Sahara operates in both directions: automatic weapons (Kalashnikovs, Simonovs and G3s) enter Mauritania illegally from Western Sahara, while weapons such as Mausers and MAS-36s travel in the opposite direction.93 In 2017 the Mauritanian government reported actions against all types of smuggling in its northern regions.

2-Availability and prices of firearms – Information on types of arms can be inferred by analysing recent seizures. While several organisations, including the 2017 UNSC PoE, have documented firearms seizures in various countries in the region, the lack of access to seizure data in other countries makes it difficult to keep track of the origins and types of the firearms available in the region. In general, we can conclude that for reasons of training, ammunition availability and habit, Warsaw Pact weaponry continues to be preferred two decades after the end of the Cold War. Consequently, most of the assault rifles detected across North African countries are of the Kalashnikov variety.

Firearms from Libya seized in Tunisia, for example, have mostly identified AK-47 and AK 103-2 self-loading rifles from Russia (delivered to Libya in 2005 and 2008).94 Kalashnikov-type firearms are also the most commonly seized type in Algeria (see Tables 2 and 3). Arms from the Balkans were also identified in Libya in late 2011 and in 2013, i.e. AR-M9 rifles manufactured by Arsenal.

Información: MAP / Imagen: UE.com

La Voz del Árabe (LVÁ) – NOTICIAS – Cd. de México, abril 24 del 2018

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