Small Wars Journal

Frozen War: The Moroccan- Polisario Conflict

Sun, 10/25/2020 - 10:14pm

Frozen War: The Moroccan- Polisario Conflict

By Jonathan Helton

Abstract

One African conflict that consistently flies under the radar is the struggle between Morocco and the Polisario Front over the territory of Western Sahara. This struggle dates back to the Cold War and reflected Cold War alliances throughout its duration. As the Soviet Union fell, the Polisario Front found its allies increasingly few. Since the early 1990s, this conflict has remained on ice militarily, partially thanks to U.N. intervention. Despite some flare ups, the battle over Western Sahara has moved to the realm of diplomacy and dialogue. Still, negotiations between the two sides so far have failed to reach a settlement. Compounding the failures are a decades-long refugee crises and persistent human rights abuses. Concern among some Polisario Front members could lead to a resurgence of armed conflict, so international spectators and interested parties need to revisit long- and short-term solutions before this conflict reignites.

Introduction

The Polisario-Moroccan conflict is a decades-old struggle over colonization and autonomy dating back to Cold War alliances. In many ways, it’s a remnant of Cold War battle lines, frozen for years. This dispute has displaced thousands, creating an almost-permanent refugee crisis in neighboring Algeria. Morocco has long claimed Western Sahara as its legitimate territory. The Polisario, to the contrary, believe they should govern Western Sahara as their own state. While the United Nations has proffered several solutions, none have as of yet been realized.

Even in this frozen war, tensions remain hot, with both sides dissatisfied with the status quo. Stakes include Western Sahara’s natural resources and a question of the lives of thousands of Sahrawi people. Absent a viable solution, the international community should hope this conflict remains as it has been: frozen.

History

            Pre-1991

Western Sahara became the focal point of a regional dispute in the 1970s. Morocco brought a suit to the International Court of Justice in 1974. They asked that the court find Western Sahara—a Spanish colony at the time—a legal part of Morocco. In a decision mired in Cold War politics, the court did not rule in their favor, instead finding that there were local tribes hypothetically capable of ruling themselves. Morocco largely rejected this holding. In 1975, after thousands of unarmed Moroccans streamed into Western Sahara during the “Green March,” Spain reached a settlement with Morocco and Mauritania: the territory would be divided between them.[1] Spain left in early 1976.[2]

 

Once Spain relinquished its control, a short land grab ensued. While the agreement gave both Mauritania and Morocco administrative powers over Western Sahara, Mauritania ceded its claims in 1979. The young Polisario Front, founded in 1973, wanted a stake as well. This Algerain-backed group of Sahrawi separatists declared Western Morocco as the Sahrawi African Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976—a day after Spain removed the last of its troops.[3] The Polisario also received backing from other Soviet-aligned states, like Cuba and the USSR. This was juxtaposed against Morocco’s alignment with Western Cold War powers.

The resulting 16-year war between the two sides killed around 11,000 Polisario and Moroccan troops and thousands of civilians. Many more Sahrawis fled into Algeria as refugees.[4] While they waged war on the ground, both sides were active diplomatically. The Polisario made gains in African geopolitics. The precursor to the African Union, the Organization of African Unity, admitted the SADR as Western Sahara’s legitimate government in 1982. Morocco left the organization two years later. On their part, Morocco began partitioning Western Sahara in the 1980s with a berm, complete with mines, barbed wired, and patrols. The United States provided technical support to Morocco as they completed this project.[5]

 

The last major Polisario offensive in 1989 prompted the U.N. to intervene. In 1991, the Security Council formed MINURSO, formally the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. It aimed to provide a referendum on independence for Western Sahara natives. Logistical hurdles have plagued MINURSO and no referendum has yet been held, though the U.N. peacekeepers associated with the mission have so far seen relatively little violence.[6] 

            Post-1991

Today, Morocco’s army stands at perhaps 300,000 active duty enlistees. They possess several fighters and attack helicopters, as well as around 1,400 tanks.[7] The United States no doubt provided some of these weapons, as it backed Morocco’s campaign against the Polisario during the Cold War.[8] The Polisario force currently stands at several thousand. A 2011 CIA report listed that the Polisario had about 70 tanks and several dozen armoured combat vehicles at that time.[9]

 

Life expectancy remains low in Western Sahara, and it lags behind Morocco’s significantly—64.5 compared to 73.3.[10] Infant mortality is also high, at 48 deaths per 1,000 live births. Overall, the economy is small and GDP per capita is equally low, at around $2,500.[11] These figures include the entire landmass and are not divided by the controlling entity. The west side of the berm, however, has performed comparatively well, partially thanks to Moroccan investment in the area. The government of Morocco initiated a $609 million investment package in 2015.[12] 

 

Western Sahara has a few natural resources. Its fisheries and phosphate mines are both relatively significant. In 2019, $90 million in phosphate was exported from the territory.[13] Morocco has faced legal pressure over these exports, as some question its authority to sell resources from the disputed area. On the east side of the berm, many residents eke out a nomadic life, herding camels and traveling for water.

 

The berm, started in 1981, has partitioned Western Sahara since 1987. This 1,700-mile sand barrier bifurcates the territory’s governance; Morocco now controls more than two-thirds of Western Sahara and its largest cities while the Polisario governs the arid remnant. Morocco also owns Western Sahara’s largest city and former capital, Laayoune.[14] 

 

Figure 1: The berm

Source: Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy

 

The berm is surrounded by unexploded ordinances (UXOs) from the war. It’s the longest minefield in existence.[15] There are still 9 million UXOs, landmines, and explosive remnants of war (ERW) littering the area around the berm.[16] Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has removed thousands of ordinances from the Polisario side of the berm. They also trained Polisario group Saharawi Mine Action Coordination Centre on ordinance removal techniques, and the group has taken the lead on scrubbing the area of UXOs. In addition to its removal efforts, AOAV established cooperatives for those injured or killed by landmines, providing microgrants to survivors.[17] The U.N. Mine Action Service, too, has trained locals, cleared explosives, and given survivors assistance.[18]

 

Since the ceasefire, no one has been killed in military confrontation.[19] However, the tensions between the two sides have not always been stable. A 2001 incident saw thousands of Polisario fighters take positions near the berm, thanks to a gunshot from a Moroccan soldier and an annual race, the Paris-Dakar rally.[20] In 2010, Moroccan security killed at least 11 Sahrawi demonstrators while the security forces suffered at least 8 casualties. This incident occurred after security tore down a tent city south of Laayoune.[21]

 

Another incident in 2016 nearly became lethal. After Polisario leader Mohamed Abdelaziz passed away in May 2016, the new leader, Brahim Ghali, displayed his inclination for confrontation. That August, Morocco deployed troops to Guerguerat, a region near the berm, to guard the construction of a road there. As the Guerguerat region is a neutral zone, Ghali believed this to be a violation of the ceasefire agreement and sent Polisario fighters to the area.[22] A standoff ensued. Today, this Guergeerat standoff has yet to be resolved, with the UN hesitant to intervene.[23] No casualties have occurred due to these hostilities, but near-skirmishes threaten to reignite violence.

 

While the conflict has remained on ice militarily, both sides are politically active, using diplomacy as a tool instead. Since its exit from the Organization of African Unity,[24] Morocco has found several continental powers, like long-term rival Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria, opposing its Western Sahara policy.[25] Recently, however, Morocco has employed extensive diplomacy. King Mohammed VI embarked on a tour of Africa in 2014. This diplomatic mission continued on and off for the next few years. King Mohammed completed dozens of business, agricultural, and religious agreements with several countries during the tour. It ended a month before Morocco’s re-admittance into the African Union in January 2017.[26] Morocco has now garnered the support of 28 AU countries in asking for the SADR’s removal from the forum. Even non-African countries like El Salvador and Barbados withdrew their support for the SADR.[27]

 

For its part, the Polisario has seen its international standing become increasingly tenuous. Despite receiving backing from Russia, Cuba, and other communist states during the Cold War,[28] it now finds itself with scant allies. Its longtime backer Algeria remains faithful, providing camps for Sahrawi refugees, while South Africa seized a Moroccan vessel carrying Western Sahara phosphates off its coast in 2017.[29] The SADR is still a member of the African Union but commands little sway at the organizational level. Individual African states continue backing the SADR, prolonging a continental divide on the issue.[30] That Morocco has received backing for SADR expulsion speaks volumes to the Polisario’s declining influence.

 

International affairs have not been an unqualified victory for Morocco, though. In 2016, for example, the European Court of Justice rejected the argument that an EU-Morocco trade deal applied to Western Sahara’s products. Instead, the ECJ backed a similar 2015 ruling regarding Western Sahara’s natural resources. Both rulings held that Western Sahara was not Moroccan territory and thus none of its products could flow through Moroccan trade deals.[31] These rulings came as Morocco had a falling out with the U.N., expelling several staffers after U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, called Moroccan rule “an occupation.” Moon’s spokesperson later apologized.[32]

 

Refugees, aid diversion, and human rights

 

Two issues complicating the resolution of the dispute are the refugee situation in Tindouf and Morocco’s frequent disregard for human rights. While the ideological disagreement between Morocco and the Polisario must eventually be overcome, resolution of these two issues could make negotiations between the groups more likely to reach an accord.

 

The refugee situation in Algeria has metastasized in recent years. There are perhaps 40,000 refugees living in camps in Algeria[33]—although some believe the number could be as high as 125,000.[34] Between 20 and 50 percent of these are Sahrawi, while the rest are refugees of Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and other nearby countries. Algeria has persistently blocked access to the camps, so U.N. peacekeepers and other outside observers cannot easily obtain reliable estimates.[35] In 2018, however, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees obtained an estimate of 173,600 Sahrawi refugees.[36]

 

Many of these refugees are concentrated in the Tindouf region, which lies to the northeast of Western Sahara and is the site of the 1963 “Sand War.” This series of battles between Morocco and post-colonial Algeria resulted in a draw, with Algeria retaining Tindouf and the surrounding area.[37] Today, Tindouf is home to thousands of Sahrawi refugees, many of whom have lived there since before the 1991 ceasefire. Some children born to refugees have lived their lives in limbo in the camps, where unemployment is high, and food is scarce. The surrounding desert makes scratching a livelihood from the land nigh impossible. In Western Sahara the situation is little better, where the residents do not qualify for aid and must live as nomads.[38]  “There is no hope,” one Tindouf youth told Deutsche Welle.[39]

 

Humanitarian aid compounds the scarcity of the camps. While aid should be a silver lining, it is often misappropriated. Algeria is known to tax aid arriving for the refugees, while the Polisario have been accused of stealing aid and using it to buy weapons. Food aid has been discovered in markets in surrounding countries, a fact which former Polisario leaders have confirmed.[40] Algeria’s belligerence is one reason aid is often stolen. As the country refuses to allow an independent census, inflated refugee numbers often come though, leading donors to “feed ghosts.”[41] Extra aid is siphoned for nefarious purposes. A recently proposed EU resolution would have audited the aid delivery system in Algeria.[42]

 

Human rights abuse is the second issue complicating reform. Morocco has a spotted track record when it comes to the subject. Its security officers have been documented beating Sahrawi activists on multiple occasions.[43] Morocco has also targeted journalists, activists, and others for expressing opinions that “offend[ed] public officials or institutions.” Amnesty International called for the release of several dozen unjustly detained prisoners amid the COVID-19 outbreak. King Mohammed has already pardoned several thousand people in an attempt to clear out an overcrowded jail system.[44] In a sign of some progress, Morocco allowed a Sahrawi rights group to register with the government for the first time in 2015.[45]

 

Meanwhile, the other side of the berm has a similarly unsavory track record. Other than extorting aid, Algerian security has also been accused of extrajudicial killings.[46] Polisario operatives are likewise not innocent. The Polisario kept POWs for 14 years while denying their existence,[47] and Morocco has charged Hezbollah with smuggling arms to Polisario fighters (though this claim may be questionable).[48] Both sides accuse one another of drug trafficking.[49]

 

Polisario youth are increasingly skeptical of the MINURSO’s operations. “If we wait for the UN Security Council to deliver the referendum and the freedom to go back to our land, we will be here for 300 years,” one youth leader stated. Some want to take up arms against Morocco again.[50] Some have joined jihadist groups elsewhere in Africa.[51] Most Sahrawis, however, do not see eye to eye with regional extremists. “They will not forgive us for being a democratic movement. They will not forgive us for having equality for men and women,” Polisario president Mohamed Abdelaziz told PBS in 2013.[52]

 

Several organizations have enjoined the U.N. to impose a human rights mandate on MINURSO’s mission. Most other U.N. peacekeeping forces operate with a similar order. The U.S. has floated such a proposal before to no avail, as other members of the Security Council have been reticent to impose such a mandate.[53] Both France and Russia at various times opposed this change.[54]

 

Reform proposals

 

MINURSO’s original mission, to provide for a referendum in Western Sahara, is now a relic, as Morocco has consistently stonewalled any referendum attempts. Morocco’s alternative, autonomy, gained Security Council approval in 2007.[55] This plan would convert Western Sahara into an autonomous province of Morocco. For their part, the Polisario has been unwilling to support this compromise.

 

In 2001, the United States supported a panacea similar to Morocco’s autonomy plan. The first Baker Peace Plan, a product of the Clinton and Bush administrations, sought to create an autonomous Western Sahara. The Polisario rejected this.[56] In 2003, a second Baker plan proposed a Sahrawi referendum after a transition period during which Western Sahara would be an autonomous region of Morocco. The referendum would have allowed Western Sahara to remain autonomous, achieve independence, or integrate with Morocco to form one state. The U.N. Security Council endorsed this plan, but Morocco rejected it, insisting on retaining some share of sovereignty over Western Sahara. International support for the plan eventually weakened.[57] 

 

In mid-2019, U.N. envoy to Western Sahara and former German president Horst Köhler resigned his post, citing health concerns.[58] This has so far hamstrung U.N. negotiation efforts, as he has yet to be replaced. The U.N. will need to commission a skilled replacement for any negotiations to come to fruition. Köhler managed to hold U.N. peace talks between Morocco and the Polisario twice—once in December 2018 and once the following April. In his five-year stint as special envoy, that he managed two meetings was notable; the sides had not met since 2012.[59] Köhler’s replacement will need to further press for peace talks.

 

Recently, the dispute attained a renewed degree of U.S. attention. John Bolton, who worked with Baker’s push for resolution, played an instrumental role in getting both parties to the table for the negotiations during Köhler’s stint as envoy. Bolton has been critical of Morocco for slowing down a final agreement. They are “expecting that de facto control will morph into de jure control over time,” he wrote in 2007.[60] His exit from the administration in late 2019 ended any hope of his influence furthering further talks.

 

Some interim suggestions for international organizations and interested countries:

 

(1) Aid agencies should carefully monitor disbursement. Algeria’s commonplace violations should not be tolerated. In light of this, however, aid agencies should also consider sending additional aid to the Sahrawis. During and after COVID-19, rations are scarce as even their tepid economy declines. Oxfam documented this need, asking for additional funding and medical supplies.[61]

 

(2) If rights violations continue with little accountability, they will blur the negotiation process. With fears of abuse on both fronts, there is less incentive for integration. Integration without reform could spark violence and even reignite the conflict. For their part, Morocco should up its human rights monitoring via its National Council on Human Rights—the creation of a 2011 U.N. Security Council resolution.[62] 

 

(3) Other stakeholders—local and international advocacy groups, community organizations, and commentators—should take a more active role in supporting peace. This “track-two diplomacy” may be hard to implement with inadequate protections for certain groups, but those that already operate in the region can help diffuse any potential conflict.[63]

 

Long-term solutions look unlikely, but an autonomy plan like the one evinced by former Secretary Baker seems to be a preferable option. Notwithstanding Morocco’s mixed track record on abuse, the east side of the berm has fared considerably better than the Polisario side. Autonomy could free the Tindouf refugees of their meager existence, allowing them access to greater economic opportunity. A sort of “grand bargain” could create an autonomous Western Sahara while imposing strict international oversight on Morocco’s rights abuses.

 

A second-best option is that the status quo remains frozen. A Polisario return to arms would further destabilize the area, though it is unlikely that the Polisario would prevail on their own. While probably untenable at this juncture, this compromise could benefit both sides and retire one of the last remaining Cold War conflicts.  

 

 

Jonathan Helton is a freelance researcher based in west Tennessee. He has published with The Strategy Bridge, The Borgen Project, Mises Wire, and the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Currently, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Law and Politics.

 

[1]  Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara matters,” American Enterprise Institute, July 27, 2015, https://www.aei.org/research-products/journal-publication/why-the-western-sahara-matters/.

[2] Rahman Fakhry and Nicol Konstantaropoulou, “The Question of: The status of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory,” Leiden Model United Nations, 2018, pg. 5, https://www.lemun.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/The-status-of-the-Western-Sahara-as-a-non-self-governing-territory.pdf.

[3] Rahman Fakhry and Nicol Konstantaropoulou, pg. 5, 6.

[4] Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara Matters.”

[5] Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?”

[6] Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara Matters.”

[7] “Morocco Military Strength (2020),” Global Firepower, https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=morocco

[8] Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?” The New Yorker, December 29, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-one-of-africas-oldest-conflicts-finally-nearing-its-end.

[9] “The Polisario Front: Status and Prospects,” Central Intelligence Agency, 2011, pg. 4, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP84S00556R000100150003-7.pdf.

[10] “Life Expectancy At Birth,” CIA World Factbook,  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/355rank.html#WI.

[11] “Western Sahara,” CIA World Factbook, updated June 8, 2020,  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/wi.html.

[12] “Western Sahara.” CIA World Factbook.

[13] Dominic Dudley, “Morocco Suffers Sharp Fall In Phosphate Sales From Disputed Territory Of Western Sahara, As North American Orders Dry Up,” Forbes, February 23, 2020,

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2020/02/23/morocco-phosphate-exports-western-sahara/#9a7234c7761d.

[14] Mitch Swenson, “The world's longest minefield isn't where you think it is,” War is Boring, July 8, 2014, https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-longest-minefield-in-the-world-isnt-where-you-think-it-is-9abd521cd770.

[15] Mitch Swenson, “The world's longest minefield isn't where you think it is.”

[16] Adil Khan, “A Forgotten Conflict in a Forgotten Region: Western Sahara and its 9 Million Landmines,” Global South Development Magazine, https://www.gsdmagazine.org/forgotten-conflict-forgotten-region-western-sahara-9-million-landmines/.

[17] “Western Sahara,” Action on Armed Violence, https://aoav.org.uk/on-the-ground/western-sahara/.

[18] “Territory of Western Sahara,” United Nations Mine Action Service, January 2020, https://www.unmas.org/en/programmes/westernsahara.

[19] Flora Pidoux, “Morocco and Western Sahara: a decades-long war of attrition,” The Conversation, September 19, 2019,

https://theconversation.com/morocco-and-western-sahara-a-decades-long-war-of-attrition-122084.

[20] Leah Glade Miller, “The Polisario Front and the World: Leveraging International Support for Sahrawi Self-Determination,” Report presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, May 2014, pg. 1, https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/26431/MILLER-MASTERSREPORT2014.pdf?sequence=1.

[21] Tom Stevenson, “Inside disputed Western Sahara,” Al Jazeera, January 10, 2013,

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/12/201212247936401443.html.

[22] Hannah Armstrong, “The Youth Movement in Sahrawi Refugee Camps,” International Crisis Group, April 25, 2018, https://www.refworld.org/docid/5af0038a4.html.

[23] Ali Haidar, “Sahara: Brief Incursion of Polisario Militias in Guerguerat Border zone,” Sahara News, April 16, 2020,

https://sahara-news.org/2430-sahara-brief-incursion-of-polisario-militias-in-guerguerat-border-zone.html.

[24] Nizar Visram, “The world’s last colony: Morocco continues occupation of Western Sahara, in defiance of UN,” Open Democracy, April 13, 2017, https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/north-africa-west-asia/world-s-last-colony-morocco-continues-occupation-of-western-sahara-in-de/.

[25] Frank Mattheis, “Why Western Sahara remains one of Africa’s most divisive political issues,” The Conversation, March 27, 2019

https://theconversation.com/why-western-sahara-remains-one-of-africas-most-divisive-political-issues-114373; “Nigeria reiterates support to Western Sahara people's just cause,” Sahara Press Service, February 23, 2020, https://www.spsrasd.info/news/en/articles/2020/02/23/24719.html.

[26] Nizar Visram, “The world’s last colony: Morocco continues occupation of Western Sahara, in defiance of UN.”

[27] Flora Pidoux, “Morocco and Western Sahara: a decades-long war of attrition.”

[28] Gary Cartwright, “Embezzlement of European Humanitarian Aid continues in Tindouf camps in Algeria,” EU Today, June 30, 2020, https://eutoday.net/news/politics/2020/tindouf-camps-in-algeria.

[29] Hannah Armstrong, “The Youth Movement in Sahrawi Refugee Camps.”

[30] Frank Mattheis, “Why Western Sahara remains one of Africa’s most divisive political issues.”

[31] Dominic Dudley, “European Court Dismisses Morocco's Claim To Western Sahara, Throwing EU Trade Deal Into Doubt,” Forbes, December 21, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2016/12/21/european-court-dismisses-moroccos-claim-to-western-sahara-throwing-eu-trade-deal-into-doubt/#2627a0b74493.

[32] Michelle Nichols, “U.N. chief regrets Morocco 'misunderstanding' over Western Sahara remark,” Reuters, March 28, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-morocco-westernsahara-un-idUSKCN0WU1N9.

[33] Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara matters.”

[34] Flora Pidoux, “Morocco and Western Sahara: a decades-long war of attrition.”

[35] Ali Haidar, “Polisario: Shocking Revelations from Dissident about the Size and Origins of Inhabitants in Tindouf camps,” Sahara News, June 15, 2020,

https://sahara-news.org/2489-polisario-shocking-revelations-from-dissident-about-the-size-origins-of-inhabitants-in-tindouf-camps.html; and Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara matters.”

[36] “Sahrawi Refugees in Tindouf, Algeria: Total In‐Camp Population,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, March 2018, pg. 4,  https://www.usc.gal/export9/sites/webinstitucional/gl/institutos/ceso/descargas/UNHCR_Tindouf-Total-In-Camp-Population_March-2018.pdf.

[37] “50 Years Ago, a Largely Forgotten War: The 1963 Morrocan-Algerian ‘Sand War,’” Middle East Institute, Editor’s Blog, October 18, 2013, http://mideasti.blogspot.com/2013/10/50-years-ago-largely-forgotten-war-1963.html.

[38]  Habib Mohaed, “The other side of the Moroccan Wall,” Deutsche Welle, July 10, 2015, https://www.dw.com/en/the-other-side-of-the-moroccan-wall/a-18753807.

[39] Hugo Flotat-Talon, “The forgotten refugees of Western Sahara,” Deutsche Welle, March 23, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/the-forgotten-refugees-of-western-sahara/a-48023892.

[40] Gary Cartwright, “Embezzlement of European Humanitarian Aid continues in Tindouf camps in Algeria”; and Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara matters.”

[41] Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara matters.”

[42] Ali Haidar, “European Parliament Resolution Denouncing Diversion of Humanitarian Aid by Algeria and Polisario,” Sahara News, July 9, 2020,

https://sahara-news.org/2501-european-parliament-resolution-denouncing-diversion-of-humanitarian-aid-by-algeria-and-polisario.html.

[43] Habib Mohaed, “The other side of the Moroccan Wall”; “Western Sahara,” Security Council Report; and Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?”

[44] “Morocco/Western Sahara: Detained journalists, peaceful protesters at risk of Covid-19, must be urgently released,” Amnesty International, April 7, 2020,

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/04/morocco-western-sahara-detained-journalists-peaceful-protesters-at-risk-of-covid-19-must-be-urgently-released/.

[45] Habib Mohaed, “The other side of the Moroccan Wall.”

[46] Ali Haidar, “European Commission Questioned on Extrajudicial Executions in Tindouf Camps,” Sahara News, July 9, 2020, https://sahara-news.org/2504-european-commission-questioned-on-extrajudicial-executions-in-tindouf-camps.html.

[47] Michael Rubin, “Why the Western Sahara matters.”

[48] Jacques Roussellier, “A Role for Russia in the Western Sahara?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 5, 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/76532; Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?”

[49] Ali Haidar, “Sahara-Drug: Polisario elements active in drug trafficking south of Dakhla,” Sahara News, May 23, 2019,

https://sahara-news.org/2033-sahara-drug-polisario-elements-active-in-drug-trafficking-south-of-dakhla.html; and “Polisario asks Security Council to hold Morocco accountable for human trafficking and drug smuggling in the region,” Sahara Press Service, March 3, 2020, https://www.spsrasd.info/news/en/articles/2020/03/03/24946.html.

[50] Hannah Armstrong, “The Youth Movement in Sahrawi Refugee Camps.”

[51] Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?”

[52] Larisa Epatko, “The 37-year-old refugee situation you know nothing about,” PBS, October 25, 2013, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/the-37-year-old-refugee-situation-you-know-nothing-about.

[53] Louis Charbonneau, “France won't block U.S. proposal on Western Sahara: envoys,” Reuters, April 18, 2013,

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-westernsahara-un/france-wont-block-u-s-proposal-on-western-sahara-envoys-idUSBRE93H0XR20130418.

[54] Philippe Bolopion, “Western Sahara: France against Human Rights,” Human Rights Watch, December 22, 2010, https://www.hrw.org/news/2010/12/22/western-sahara-france-against-human-rights#.

[55] Flora Pidoux, “Morocco and Western Sahara: a decades-long war of attrition.”

[56] Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?”

[57] Anna Theofilopoulou, “A Response by Anna Theofilopoulou,” Response to an article published with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2009,  https://carnegieendowment.org/files/Theofilopoulou_Response.pdf.

[58] Juliet O’Brien, “Western Sahara: Problems in the U.S. Push for Peace?” United States Institute of Peace, June 11, 2019, https://www.usip.org/publications/2019/06/western-sahara-problems-us-push-peace.

[59] “Western Sahara,” Security Council Report, May 4, 2020,

 https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/chronology/western-sahara.php; and Daniel Samet, “The Western Sahara Dispute Drags On after 27 Years in Limbo,” Freedom House, January 9, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/article/western-sahara-dispute-drags-after-27-years-limbo.   

[60] Nicolas Niarchos, “Is One of Africa’s Oldest Conflicts Finally Nearing Its End?”

[61] “COVID-19: New cases confirmed near Sahrawi camps, 173,000 refugees at risk,” Oxfam, May 8, 2020, https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/covid-19-new-cases-confirmed-near-sahrawi-camps-173000-refugees-risk.

[62] Sarah Leah Whitson and Philippe Bolopion, “Letter to UN Security Council on Western Sahara,” Human Right Watch, April 17, 2013,  https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/17/letter-un-security-council-western-sahara.

[63] Juliet O’Brien, “Western Sahara: Problems in the U.S. Push for Peace?”

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Helton is a freelance researcher based in west Tennessee. He has published with The Strategy Bridge, The Borgen Project, Mises Wire, and the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Currently, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Law and Politics.

Comments

birdseyeview

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 5:44pm

Thanks for this well researched article. It is important to note that since 2016, the European Court of Justice amended its ruling and products from the WS are exportable under the Moroccan-European MFA.