The late leader of the Front, Muhammad Abdel Aziz, was not happy to be compared to his predecessor, the founder of the Polisario, Wali Mustafa al-Sayyid. The latter was a political leader and a charismatic figure par excellence. A redemption for the cause he considered and believed in, despite the horror of the conspiracies he was exposed to and the extent of the betrayals of the comrades that were unable more than once to dislodge him from the leadership position of the Front, before his death passed due to the mysterious incident of his death in the Front’s attack on Nouakchott in June 1976, which remained A mystery beyond comprehension, as are all aspects of his unique personality.
As for Mohamed Abdelaziz, he was at first only an obscure leader of the second rank in the Polisario, who was led by chance to assume the leadership of the front, when he was summoned by the Algerian army sector in Tindouf to pass military service in early 1974, immediately after the transfer of the rear front camps to the Tindouf region in the south Western Algeria, with the justification of his Algerian origins, before being sent at the head of the first batch of trainees in Algerian military schools, and being framed by its security services, after he experienced the embryonic movement in Tantan before the establishment of the Polisario, and participated in the founding Front Conference in Zouerate, to be appointed later in charge of its office Betindov due to his extended tribal background.
Muhammad Abdul Aziz did not find the path to leadership paved with roses. Rather, he faced an organization that lives on the impact of political differences and divisions and tribal and regional tensions, as well as regional and international polarizations, but he succeeded in playing on the contradictions that abound in the front, despite the great vacuum left by the departure of the guardian Mustafa al-Sayyid, taking advantage of The struggles of the main leadership elements among them, where he employed clan fanaticism to his advantage, to strike the leadership groups against each other, and also allowed the leading group affiliated with him to wander around in the Polisario apparatus, using it as a repressive tool to subjugate the violators and control its internal front.
The late Mohamed Abdelaziz, in order to consolidate his hegemony over the Polisario’s decision, employed his tribal background, which gave him a kind of traditional legitimacy, as he belonged to the “Rakibat al-Sharq” component, the most prevalent component in the Tindouf camps. He also worked on distributing leadership positions among the various other tribal components, especially those components that It rebelled against the Polisario in the events of 1988, without allowing the emergence of charismatic leadership figures who could compete with it for the leadership of the front, among which are many historical leaders, some of whom acquiesced to his leadership, and others left the Polisario or disappeared in the midst of the changes it was making on the occasion and without them.
Despite the extent of the grave violations of Sahrawi human rights committed during his leadership of the front in the seventies and eighties of the last century, for which he devoted his political and moral responsibility, he remained far from direct involvement in them, as his name was not mentioned in any of the victims’ testimonies as a practitioner or direct supervisor of Torture, kidnappings and assassinations in the camps.
On the contrary, he was keen to express his rejection and resentment towards these violations on many official occasions, including those political stations that constituted important turning points in the current history of the Polisario, such as its eighth and ninth general conferences held in 1989 and 1991, where he declared his repudiation of Those involved in it, but without daring to take any concrete action to address the consequences of the crimes committed in the name of the Polisario and under its authority, while working to protect and honor the same torturers affiliated with him by assuming leadership positions, refusing to yield to human rights demands to reveal the truth of these violations and isolate the suspects in Their involvement in it, as well as his reluctance to apologize to the victims and make reparation for the harm they have suffered.
Morally, Mohamed Abdelaziz was neither the best of the front’s leaders nor the worst of them, as his marriages are limited and his possessions are not that many compared to the rest of the main leaders in the Polisario, but he made room for his wife, who belongs to the same social component, the Algerian Tindoufian citizen Khadija Hamdi, to occupy important leadership positions in the front, and enjoys uninterrupted influence. Its counterparts in the women, culture, and media sectors have entered it, to the extent that it has become one of the most important leadership references in the camps, and one of the controllers of the Polisario’s political scene.
Abdelaziz was able to overcome many of the serious political crises that the Polisario experienced, especially after he dominated the front’s decision following the 1988 events that nearly ravaged him. He removed most of his rivals, led by his deputy, Bashir Mustafa al-Sayyid, who was the actual leader of the Polisario. He also canceled what was known as the Executive Committee, which was competing with him in the decision of the political front, to replace it with what became known as the National Secretariat, which worked to dilute its oversight role by expanding it to include dozens of members according to tribal and regional accounts and sensitivities, to focus all powers in his person, and monopolize the organization’s tools Which he employed to buy off debts and domesticate social references in the camps, from tribal sheikhs, political leaders, and sheikhs of Salafi movements.
The late leader of the Front has been managing the political and security crises that the Polisario has been living on for decades, without working to find final solutions to them, in order to maintain a controlled level of crisis and to barter with it the positions of the rest of the interveners in the region, increasing and decreasing the level of the crisis as needed. . Sometimes he unleashes escalatory political statements, and at other times he takes some limited field steps, and from time to time he gives way to the movement of remnants of armed groups, smuggling groups and the cross-border trade in contraband, taking advantage of all the political threads and tools in his hands, until he became a real example of the wise Bedouin leadership that preserves On the ball rolling with everyone despite his exceptional environment.
However, as soon as Muhammad Abdulaziz died, the specter of the political vacuum in the leadership of the front appeared again, before the path of the Polisario’s performance began to decline rapidly, following the series of successive political and field defeats it had incurred, due to the concentration of powers and responsibilities in the hands of its late leader, the absence of transparency and the absence of its organizational structures. In addition to the weakness and deepening of the crisis of its political legitimacy. Its path culminated in the prosecution of its leader by the Spanish judiciary on serious charges, accusations of his involvement in the crimes of torture, kidnapping and extrajudicial killings, after the Polisario missed many opportunities to address the past of the massive human rights violations committed by its officials throughout the leadership of its late president, Mohamed Abdelaziz.