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Military units from the Arab Democratic Republic Saharawi performing maneuvres in Western Sahara in January 2019. Photo: Stefano Montesi - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Brahim Ghali, the leader of a pro-independence group in Western Sahara, declared war on Morocco Saturday, breaking a decades-long ceasefire, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The declaration could reignite an armed struggle and exacerbate years of animosity between Morocco and its neighbor Algeria, which hosts the independence group, the Polisario Front.

  • The ongoing conflict "has left Morocco controlling about 80 percent of the disputed territory, leaving thousands of Sahrawis living in a protracted displacement situation near the Algerian town of Tindouf," the Times writes.

The big picture: The breakdown of the truce comes one day after Morocco conducted a military operation in a UN-patrolled buffer zone in the territory to open a road blocked by Polisario supporters.

  • Escalating tensions between the groups have drawn concern from the UN, the African Union and nations in Northern Africa and across the Middle East, according to the Times.
  • UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement Friday that he is “determined to do everything possible to remove all obstacles to the resumption of the political process.”

Go deeper

Dec 11, 2020 - World

Scoop: Fallout between Trump and top GOP senator made Morocco-Israel deal possible

Sen. Jim Inhofe (L) with President Trump. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A fallout between President Trump and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led to the breakthrough that resulted in the Morocco-Israel normalization deal, sources briefed on the matter told me.

Why it matters: Inhofe is Washington's most avid supporter of the Polisario Front — a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement aiming to end Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara. He has travelled many times to Algeria for meetings with Polisario leaders.

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.

McCarthy: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy" of Biden's win

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was asked Wednesday whether he was concerned about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to GOP leadership after she has promoted baseless claims about the election. He responded: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election."

Why it matters: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted as House GOP conference chair earlier Wednesday — in a vote that McCarthy supported — over her continued criticisms of former President Trump and his lies about election fraud.