Tunisia has received Brahim Ghal, the head of the Polisario Front, as a guest at a development summit, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. The Polisario Front is a Western Saharawi independence group known for carrying out acts of terrorism.
In response, Morocco, which claims sovereignty over the Western Sahara, recalled its ambassador to Tunisia. Tunisia has reciprocated, retiring its ambassador to the north African kingdom.
The move may have come as part of a strengthening of Tunisian and Algerian ties, as the former is reliant on Algerian energy. Algeria is a defender of Western Saharan independence and long-time rival of Morocco.
Tunisia has, in any case, maintained an officially neutral position on the territorial dispute.
The African Union, for its part, does recognize the Western Sahara as a member, albeit the Polisario Front’s status as legitimate interlocutor is disputed.
Morocco has secured recognition for its military annexation and demographic colonization of the Western Sahara by cultivating close ties with the U.S., and through its good relations with Israel. Its position in the region, however, is weak, insofar as Algeria is gaining in importance on account of Europe’s pivoting away from Russian energy.
Even a European country that has seemingly recognized Moroccan pretensions, like Spain, may shift away from this and back to its traditional defense of Western Saharan independence if ever VOX should enter into a governing coalition.
It remains to be seen whether diplomatic overtures towards the Polisario Front, and even official pronouncements against Moroccan conquest, will lead to anything concrete.