A video recently released by the Saharawi Army gives a glimpse of the conflict in Western Sahara that recently became active again after years of peace. The territory was promised an independence referendum in 1991, but no vote has ever been held, and recent protests aimed to force the issue at the United Nations.
The two-part video, which was given to Sputnik by the UN-recognized Polisario Front, is titled “Returned to the Armed Struggle,” and shows scenes from the Western Sahara conflict that recently became hot again after Moroccan forces violently dispersed a Saharawi protest at a border crossing leading into Mauritania on November 13.
In the video, Saharawi troops are seen loading a BM-21 “Grad” multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), a wheeled vehicle built by the Soviet Union that remains in use in dozens of militaries around the globe.
The Grad is then positioned to fire on the sand berm built across the country by Morocco in the 1980s to control the Polisario Front’s movements. Much of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces garrison the berm, which the Saharawis in the video call the “wall of oppression and shame.”
A second video released by Polisario shows the group’s artillery, also Soviet-built, and its mobile technical forces, which are mounted on pickup trucks for ease of movement.
Morocco has claimed Western Sahara since 1975, following the withdrawal of Spain from the territory, but Polisario declared a Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic in the land just months later and fought a guerrilla war against Moroccan forces until 1991, when a peace agreement was reached that included a UN promise for an independence referendum.