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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.

Biden gets COVID-19 booster shot on live television

President Biden received a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine booster shot on live television on Monday, while also urging Americans to get vaccinated.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week recommended Pfizer booster shots for millions of people, including those 65 years and older and individuals at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, wins unconditional release

John Hinckley Jr. sitting on the back seat of a car in 1981. Photo: Bettmann / Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday approved the unconditional release of John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate former President Reagan in 1981.

State of play: U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington ruled that Hinckley can be freed from all court supervision in 2022 if he remains mentally stable and continues to follow rules that were imposed on him after he was released from a Washington mental health facility in 2016 to live in Virginia, AP reports.