Jordan to open consulate in Western Sahara amid dispute

Jordan will open a consulate in Western Sahara, Morocco said on Thursday, in an apparent show of support for Rabat after the disputed territory’s Polisario independence movement said it was returning to an armed struggle.

The consulate will be in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, and the decision to open it came after a phone call between King Mohammed VI and King Abdullah II.

Arab Gulf monarchies have expressed support for Morocco after its army intervened on Friday in a UN-monitored area to open a road that was blocked by Polisario supporters and armed fighters for three weeks.

The Jordanian monarch welcomed “the reopening of the passage to the safe movement of people and goods between the Kingdom of Morocco and Sub-Saharan Africa,” the Royal palace said in a statement. Following the entry of the Moroccan army into the UN-monitored buffer strip, the Polisario independence front said it has quit the UN-brokered ceasefire and declared war.

Algeria, which backs the Polisario, was the only Arab state that has condemned Morocco’s actions in the Western Sahara passage.

The Polisario front, which seeks independence for the territory, announced it has quit the UN-brokered ceasefire and declared war against Morocco.

The UAE and some 16 African states have already opened consulates in the disputed territory as Rabat reaps more support for its position over the Western Sahara conflict since it joined the African Union in 2017.

Morocco has held the vast desert region since Spain quit in 1975 and regards it as an integral part of its own land.

Rabat has said the most it can offer as a political solution to the dispute is autonomy. The Polisario and its ally Algeria reject this and say they want a referendum, with independence for Western Sahara as one of the options.