View Full Version : Western Sahara

06-12-2007, 04:33 PM
ICG, 11 Jun 07: Western Sahara: Out of the Impasse (http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/middle_east___north_africa/egypt_north_africa/66_western_sahara___out_of_the_impasse.pdf)

The combination of Morocco’s recent proposal of a “Sahara autonomous region” (http://www.moroccanamericanpolicy.com/MoroccanCompromiseSolution041107.pdf), the Polisario Front’s counter-proposal of independence with guarantees for Moroccan interests and the UN Security Council’s 30 April resolution calling for direct negotiations between the parties – due to begin on 18 June – has been hailed as a promising breakthrough in the protracted Western Sahara dispute. This optimism may eventually be vindicated but is likely to prove premature, since the underlying dynamics of the conflict have not changed. The formal positions of Morocco and the Polisario Front are still far apart; Algeria’s position remains ambiguous and difficult to deal with; and the UN, which has responsibility for resolving the conflict, still denies itself the means to do so.

Breaking the impasse requires, at a minimum, changing the framework that has governed efforts to resolve the conflict until now. The Security Council must either discharge in full the responsibility it assumed to secure the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara or accept it cannot and encourage Morocco, the Polisario Front and Algeria to resolve matters among themselves on whatever basis they can.

05-29-2013, 03:44 PM
The diplomatic and practical impasse remains over the future of Western Sahara since the first post. To be fair I'd nearly forgotten the dispute between the inhabitants, a good number of whom are in exile in Algeria - mainly in a mini-state - and Morocco.

Then I noted this snippet in an al-Wasat piece of the recent attacks in Niger, admittedly from the jihadists:
that the group of fighters involved jihadists from Sudan, Western Sahara, and Mali...


Listening to an academic observer of the Sahel recently I recalled their reference to the ethnic affinity of the exiles in Algeria to the wider Tuareg community across the Sahel, with the declining appeal of the mini-state's Marxist-Leninist regime and numbers of the young turning to the jihadist cause. The implication being that the camps were a recruiting and recovery location for the fighters - whether jihadists or simply Tuaregs. One estimate for the camp's population is 200k.

The mini-state is formally the 'Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic' and the camps are around Tindouf and there has been a ceasefire since 1991. A very thin BBC profile:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14115273

One wonders how the Algerian state regards such activity, or does this provide a "safety valve"?


WaPo has a story on the wider Sahel as a recruiting ground, based on a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report 'Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahara', with a chapter on the Western Sahara. For IT reasons WaPo would not load, so a spin-off Moroccan link:http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/05/92654/situation-in-the-polisario-run-camps-a-breeding-ground-for-terrorists-expert/

Link to CEIP book, with scanty detail:http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/04/17/perilous-desert-insecurity-in-sahara/fzxv

08-08-2013, 08:24 AM
A former Swiss diplomat adds a few lines, within a wider glance at Islam in Africa, notably Morocco, about the camps at Tindouf:
in May this year, his son, Mohammed VI, torpedoed an equitable UNSC solution which would have finally allowed MINURSO to do its work. This UN body is charged with the execution of a referendum on full sovereignty or autonomy within Morocco for the Sahrawis, whose phantom state, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, is a member of the African Union.

This particular example of royal Moroccan intransigence and high-handedness is a problem for Algeria, where many Sahrawi refugees have vegetated for 20 years under pitiful circumstances, mostly in the Southern province of Tinduf. Algeria is a country still numb from its own traumatic experience with an Arab Spring which turned into a ten-year civil war between secularists and the army on the one hand and the Islamists on the other.

Both this war and the continued Moroccan occupation of a big part of the Western Sahara have left a heavy legacy: a reservoir of embittered, often jobless young people who are easy prey for Islamic fanatics and terrorists, both homegrown and imported. When the two join forces, like in the case of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, they are ready and able to leave a trace of blood soaked terrorism and outright war, as in the case of northern Mali.


10-21-2013, 05:28 PM
The linked article on The Daily Beast has set off a flurry of adverse comments on Twitter, alleging that the journalist has swallowed the official Moroccan line too much. Nevertheless as a rare report on Polisario, Western Sahara and AQIM gaining recruits it is worth reading:http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/21/are-algeria-s-polisario-camps-becoming-prime-recruiting-grounds-for-al-qaeda.html

03-01-2014, 09:00 PM
Western Sahara, formerly Spanish Morocco, was occupied by Morocco in 1976 against the wishes of its then population, some resisted - known as Polisario - and fled into the deserts of South West Algeria. That is a very short history.

This photojournalist's blog popped up the other day:http://stevefranck.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/africas-forgotten-war/

Which links to a charity working amongst Polisario:http://www.sandblast-arts.org/

06-27-2014, 08:58 PM
A rare report from within the Polisario camps in the Algerian desert:
After 40 years of fighting in the desert for their unrecognized country, the people of Western Sahara may be on the cusp of collapsing into extremism — and it could be the thing that saves them.


01-02-2015, 04:35 PM
Tension is rising in the camps in Algeria, amongst the young:
... young people in the camps wanted to go to war because they had seen how their parents lived “and they don’t want to live like them.

Joining a war without prospect of victory makes no sense but the perspective is different in the camps: the emotions play a bigger role there and refugees have lost faith in the international community. “Young people don’t want to bear more and, even if we don’t arrive until the end, at least we will teach something to Morocco,


03-20-2016, 01:12 PM
Dozens of United Nations international staffers pulled out of their Western Sahara mission on Sunday after Morocco demanded they leave because of Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks about the disputed territory....Rabat accused Ban earlier this month of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara dispute....Morocco said he used the word “occupation” to describe its annexation of the region...

04-25-2018, 06:03 PM
An ICG report update, their first since June 2007, on this little reported conflict.