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Western Sahara’s Phosphate: The economic weapon that Morocco exploits to blackmail more countries


Algeria – The Moroccan occupation continued its systematic plunder of the phosphate wealth extracted from Western Sahara throughout the year 2023, which provided the makhzen with an economic weapon and a pressure card to blackmail more countries to resolve the ongoing conflict in Western Sahara in its favor.

The Sharif Office of Phosphates, which controls the Spanish Phosboucraa Company, which was established in 1968 to develop minerals in Western Sahara, was able to achieve net profits estimated at $1.4 billion in 2023 thanks to illegal exports of phosphate.

Although this figure remains far from the record revenues recorded in 2022 ($2.8 billion), phosphate still constitutes Morocco’s economic arm, which it uses for bargaining and blackmail with the aim of imposing dictates on certain capitals in their decisions regarding the Western Sahara file.

This matter was embodied in the recent past, with Peru, which, as soon as it announced the restoration of its diplomatic relations with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Sharif Office of Phosphates, without hesitation, canceled its request to purchase 50 thousand tons of fertilizer.

Morocco also used the revenues from Sahrawi phosphate exports in order to also get closer to the countries most hostile to the Sahrawi Republic, by establishing cooperation and partnership relations with these countries and launching projects in various sectors.

Today, Morocco, thanks to the illegal exploitation of phosphate mines in Western Sahara, which are extracted from the Boucraa region, 100 kilometers south of the occupied city of Laayoune, has recorded record revenues from exports of this product, of which Western Sahara has the largest global reserve, while reserves are estimated at about 3 billion tons. The deposits (wealth) extend over an area of 250 square kilometers.

According to a report issued by the International Observatory for Monitoring the Natural Resources of Western Sahara, phosphate is one of the main sources of income for the Moroccan government in Western Sahara. In this regard, the Observatory explained that during the year 2022, 23 ships left the occupied Western Sahara carrying 1.23 million tons of phosphate ore.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine and the rise in demand for phosphate mineral, after the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sheriff’s Office of Phosphate recorded “amazing growth” in the profits of this vital mineral for food security in 2022, with an increase (+56 percent).

With the aim of condemning Morocco, which continues to plunder the natural resources of Western Sahara, the Polisario Front enjoys the support of about forty international organizations, most of which are affiliated with the International Observatory for Natural Resources Monitoring of Western Sahara, whose efforts culminated in 2017 in blockading ships transporting phosphate at the ports of Panama and the Cape of Good Hope on the coast of South Africa. , which prevented any ship carrying desert phosphate from crossing through these two crossings (Cape of Good Hope or Panama).

This step confirms that the strategy adopted by the Polisario Front over the past ten years has begun to bear fruit, and that its voice has become heard at the international level thanks to the ongoing appeals that it has been raising, through various legal channels, against Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over the Sahrawi natural resources.

Based on its role on the international scene as a representative of the people of Western Sahara, the Criminal Court and the European Court of Justice recognize the ability of the Polisario Front to take legal measures regarding actions that affect the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

Thanks to the legal battles waged by the Polisario Front, it was able to cancel the association agreements between the European Union and Morocco due to the inclusion of the occupied territory of Western Sahara in these agreements, while the European Court of Justice has already concluded that this region is “separate and different” from Morocco.



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