He was one of the founders, back in 1973, of the Polisario Front. A movement for the liberation of the Saharawi people of which he was its first general secretary. Since then he has held various positions in the structure of the Polisario and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). He returned to the very first line in 2016, after the death of Mohamed Abdelaziz. Brahim Gali (Esmara, Western Sahara, 1949), aspires to continue being the leader of the Polisario and president of the SADR after the celebration of the 16th Congress that his organization is still holding since last the 13th in the Dakhla camp for the Saharawi refugee population. He will, yes, have at least one rival, since Bashir Mustafa Sayed officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday.
Different events in recent years have brought Gali to the spotlight of Spanish and international public opinion. In April 2021 he was admitted in a Logroño hospital to be treated for a serious coronavirus infection. He did it in secret thanks to the Government of Pedro Sánchez, who decided to treat him for humanitarian reasons. That triggered a judicial and political storm that a year later would end with the Sánchez Executive itself changing its historical position regarding Western Sahara and endorsing the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco.
In parallel, in November 2020 Gali declared the state of war with Morocco after considering that they had broken the ceasefire due to their incursions into the Guerguerat area. The motto of the XVI Congress is “intensify the armed struggle.” How this will materialize is still unknown, in addition to knowing the approval of the new strategic documents that will come out of the conclave. About these and other issues such as the ‘Morocco Gate’, Gali talks in Dakhla with Public and three other European media outlets.
The position of Sánchez and the Spanish Government
“It was a surprise for all the Saharawis. It is not what was expected. For the second time in less than 50 years, the betrayal is repeated. The same knife is moved in the same wound. The Saharawi people expected the Spanish Government to assume its historical, legal and political responsibility to respect international legality and comply with the duties that concern Spain in relation to Western Sahara as an administering power in the face of international legality and to put an end to the Moroccan occupation helping the international community for the organization of a referendum on self-determination”. This is how Gali responds to what was the first thing he thought of when he learned of the letter that Sánchez sent last March to the Moroccan King Mohamed VI.
“Sánchez’s position was a surprise for all the Sahrawis, it is not what was expected”
Relations since then have been broken with the Government and with the PSOE. Is there any option to resume them? “We are counting on the pressure of Spanish public opinion, the world of solidarity and the different political parties to put pressure on them. Because to change you have to rectify. To restore relations you have to rectify the position that was adopted last year in favor of expansionism of the Moroccan occupation”, answers Gali.
The return to arms, the pressure of the youth and the intensification
“I believe that taking back arms was imposed by the systematic violations of the ceasefire by the Moroccan Army. For 30 years we have accompanied the international community to apply what it promised the Saharawi people in 1991. After almost 30 years, Morocco returned to violate the existing agreements between the United Nations, Morocco and the Polisario Front, the Saharawi Republic. The Saharawi people had no choice but to take up arms and defend their dignity. Taking up arms is a right that international legality consecrates to occupied or colonized peoples such as the Saharawi people. War is not an objective as such, but a means to reach a definitive solution that guarantees the Saharawi people their dignity and independence”, defends Gali.
Has this return to arms been produced by pressure from its younger sectors? “I think that it is not a secret, it does not surprise anyone, despite the fact that the Saharawi people are a peaceful people and have cooperated with the international community for almost 30 years to reach a peaceful solution”, the Saharawi leader replied. “In the last 10 or 12 years there has been a demand from all the Saharawi people to get out of this situation where there are no prospects for a solution due to Moroccan obstruction and the United Nations’ failure to assume its responsibility. The debate is to seek all means to intensify the armed struggle against the Moroccan Army and against the Moroccan regime”, he added.
Gali acknowledges that “there is enormous pressure to intensify the battles” and to return to the “fighting method of previous years where battles have been fought with great results in relation to the recovery of weapons and the capture of prisoners.” “This is the approach today. It is the demand today of our youth and of our Army in particular.”
The possibilities of the Polisario in the war
“The Polisario has never closed its doors to negotiations with Morocco and it will always be open, but under different conditions”
Gali stresses the need to review “a bit of the history of our fight against the Moroccan Army.” Especially in the years from 1986 to 1989, “those years of great battles.” “There at a certain moment Morocco believed that building a wall was insurmountable. But the battles have shown the opposite. And I just mentioned in the previous answer that there is a demand, there is a demand that we return to those types of battles. For us Sahrawis, what you have just mentioned is no more dangerous than what emerged in 1975. That year they divided us like bread between two States, even ignoring our existence. Today, at least, there is another approach”.
“War, as I said before, is not an end as such but a means. The Polisario has never closed its doors to negotiations and it will always be open. But under other conditions and without preconditions that Morocco has always raised before negotiations.” .
Drones from Morocco and silence about the conflict
Regarding the use of drones by Morocco and if he is concerned that the battle will uneven, the Polisario leader limits himself to answering that they are “adapting to the current situation of the war and its requirements.” What he does not avoid is affirming that the war exists despite the fact that his enemy silences it. “Morocco hides its losses. There are human and material losses. With names and surnames. With charges. If the Moroccan Army and the regime want to hide it, they should hide it. But the families of the dead and wounded in hospitals cannot hide what that the Sahrawis, even in the occupied territories, are observing every day”.
In this sense, he adds a novelty: “I think that in the last 20 days they have already begun to try to transfer military observers to the places attacked. And that means that the losses they are suffering are being demonstrated.”
“The ‘Morocco Gate’ requires the European Parliament to review all the agreements that have been signed between the EU and that country”
“We are not surprised,” replied the Polisario leader about the alleged plot of corruption and bribery in the European Parliament by Morocco. “We were very sure that the behavior that the European Parliament has carried out during all these last years in relation to the rejection of the opinions of the European Court has corruption behind it. We have raised it, we have tried to explain what is inexplicable. What is behind it? Because In Europe we have always considered that justice is respectful, it is superior to politics. What the corruption scheme has recently shown in the European Parliament, of course they are individuals, they are people, but they force the European Parliament to review all the agreements that are have signed between the European Union and Morocco. It reinforces the position of the Saharawi people, reinforces supporters and supporters of their thesis that indeed Europe must be part of the solution and not part of the problem”.