Drone insecurity

News in Brief

Moroccan drone attacks in Western Sahara are forcing thousands of people to flee, sometimes for a second time, leaving the territory for Algeria or Mauritania, the New Humanitarian reported in mid-May.

Morocco has illegally occupied two-thirds of Western Sahara since 1975; these attacks occurred in the other third of the country, desert controlled by the Sahrawi national liberation movement, Polisario.

Sahrawis gave US journalist Wilson McMakin photographs taken this year of civilian vehicles destroyed in drone attacks, many of which were ‘too graphic to publish as they show mangled cars and charred remains’.

The Sahrawis said that Moroccan drones have also targeted camels, the basis for the economy in the ‘liberated’ third of the country: ‘Several Sahrawi told the New Humanitarian they believe the Moroccan military’s goal is to depopulate Polisario-held zones.

Morocco has had Turkish Bayraktar TB2 and Chinese Wing Loong attack drones since 2021. It is said to have used a Wing Loong to assassinate the chief of Polisario’s gendarmerie, Addah Al Bendir, in April 2021.

US president Donald Trump agreed a $1bn deal to sell a version of the MQ-9 Reaper killer drone (and a lot of precision-guided weapons) to Morocco, as he left office, but this deal has not yet gone ahead.

Topics: Western Sahara