The Western Sahara
The the Western Sahara , called with the Morocco the Moroccan Sahara , is a ic territory Désert of: 266000 km ² of the North-West of the Africa, bordered by Morocco with north, the Algeria in north east, the Mauritania in the east and the south, while its west coast gives on the Atlantic Ocean.
Non-Self-Governing territory according to UNO, this old colony Spanish still did not find a statute final on the legal level, more than thirty years after the departure of the Spanish in 1976. The Western Sahara is in prey with a conflict reflecting at the same time the fight of some Sahraoui S for their independence and the hegemonic competition of the Morocco and the Algérie in this area. Become a total stake, the Saharan file always blocks the construction of the Union of the Arab Maghreb (UMA). The territory is asserted at the same time by the Morocco and the Arab République sahraouie democratic (RASD), founded by the Front Polisario in 1976. This one is a movement whose objective is the total independence of the Western Sahara; it is militarily, financially constant and diplomatically by the Algérie. Since the cease-fire of 1991, the Morocco control and manages approximately 80% of the territory, while the Polisario Face controls 20% of them.
UNO tries to organize a referendum of self-determination, under the aegis of the Mission of the United Nations for the organization of a referendum in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) since 1991.
Historydetailed Article: History of the Western Sahara
The pre-colonial period
The Almoravides, a Berber dynasty originating in current Mauritania, conquer and unify the tribes of the Western Sahara between 1042 and 1052, then seize the Morocco and the south of the Spain (Al-Andalus). With their fall, the territory loses its organization. At the 15th century and 16th century, the Portuguese and the Spaniards install forts on the coast, but are driven out by it after a few decades. At the 16th century, the Saadiens open a new period of influence of Morocco on the Western Sahara, which results in multiple legal bonds of allegiance between the sultan of Morocco and some of the tribes living on the territory of the Western Sahara.
The Spanish Sahara
In 1884, the Spain put this territory under its protectorate; the takeover was confirmed by the Conférence of Berlin of 1884-1885. It started by establishing commercial counters and a military presence. The borders were not clearly defined, until the treaty between the France and the Spain, dating from the beginning of the 20th century. The local tribes fought against the colonial power with the assistance of Morocco. This support ceased when this last was subjected to a Protectorat French in 1912. The the Spanish Sahara was created starting from the territories of Río de Oro and of Saguia will el-Hamra in 1924. It was separately managed territories called Spanish Morocco.
As of 1965, UNO pushed Spain to decolonize this territory and to this end to engage of the consultations with Morocco, in partnership with the enclave of Ifni. But the Algérie was then in open conflict with Morocco about the layout of their common border. Moreover, Morocco and the Mauritania had also territorial claims opposed on this territory. So the three neighbors of the Western Sahara did not manage to create a common front vis-a-vis in Spain which perpetuated its domination thus.
The payment of the conflict algéro-Morrocan and an agreement concluded between Morocco and Mauritania made it possible to unify the face anti-Spanish. In parallel, several local groups launched out in the resistance armed helped by the army with Moroccan national release resulting from the Moroccan popular fight against the occupation hispano-Frenchwoman of Morocco.
The war of 1976-1991In 1975, an advisory opinion of the the International Court of Justice confirms the existence of historical links between the populations of the Western Sahara and Morocco as well as the Mauritanian unit, but concludes that they are not likely to prevent a referendum of self-determination. A few days after this opinion, Morocco organizes the green Marche (November 6th 1975) to show the will of a Moroccan sovereignty on this territory. This leads Spain to sign the Accords of Madrid with the Morocco and the Mauritania, the November 14th 1975, to officialize the division of the territory. Morocco obtains two thirds north, and Mauritania the southern third; Algeria and Sahraouis are not consulted. The withdrawal of the Spanish troops, decided little before the death of Free, is carried out between 1975 and 1976.
The February 27th 1976, the Arab Republic sahraouie democratic (RASD) is proclaimed by the Front Polisario with Bir Lehlou, the shortly after the departure of the last Spanish soldier of the territory. In same time, the armed struggle of the Polisario Face is turned over against the Moroccan forces and Mauritanians whom he regards as new occupying forces. Between the end of 1975 and 1976, tens of thousands of sahraouis leave the Sahara Occidental and take refuge in Algeria.
Morocco recovers in fact the remainder of the territory in 1979, following the withdrawal of Mauritania. In the Years 1980, Morocco sets up a wall of defense which separates the territory into two, the Eastern quarter being from now on under the control of the Front Polisario. A guerilla warfare with the Front Polisario ends in 1991 following a cease-fire supported by the mediation of the United Nations; a referendum organized by the United Nations on the final status was deferred on several occasions.
Legal statuteThe Western Sahara is reproduced on the Liste of the Non-Self-Governing territories according to UNO since 1963, following a request of Morocco.
Since the coming into effect of the cease-fire of 1991, the final status of the Western Sahara remains to be determined.
The African Union (then OAU) recognized in 1982 the Arab République sahraouie democratic (formed by Polisario, and which asserts sovereignty on the Western Sahara), and accommodated it like Member State, under the impulse of Algeria. This recognition led Morocco to withdraw OAU in 1985. Since, the position of the latter (become the African Union) on the question did not evolve/move.
Since the departure of the Spaniards, UNO considers that the Western Sahara is a territory without administration. In 2002, an opinion of right of Hans Corell, general vice-secretary with the points of law, concludes that Morocco is not the administering power of the territory. As from 2003, certain documents of UNO qualify Morocco of “administering authority”, which would give him the right to exploit the natural resources of the territory, for example to authorize oil concessions. The government of the RASD asserts to him also administering power of the territory.
Political situationThe Western Sahara is a major stake of the competition between Morocco and Algeria. Morocco shows this one to seek an opening on the Atlantic Ocean, while Algeria posts the will to dam up what it called “the expansionism of the sherifs”, “serious danger” to all the neighbors of the east and the south. The competition a long time was maintained in the context the Cold war, Morocco being supported by the Western Europe, the the United States, monarchies of the Persian Gulf as well as Israel, while Algeria was supported by the Eastern bloc, in particular the the USSR, as well as the Libya.
In April 2007, the Safety advice of the United Nations adopts a new resolution (n° 1754) which urges the parts to be negotiated “in order to arrive to a political solution right, durable and mutually acceptable which allows the self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara”.
Moroccan positionThe Western Sahara is regarded by Morocco as component its provinces of the south (known as the Moroccan Sahara ). This capacity asserted like history and legal by Morocco on this part of the Sahara is disputed by the Polisario Face and Algeria.
Morocco rejects the conclusions of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1975: according to him, the court made a mistake in interpretation while seeking to use a Western legal framework. The historical bonds of allegiance expressed by many chiefs are constitutive of the Moroccan nation like membership of the Western Sahara in Morocco, and there does not exist other historical source of sovereignty.
The question of the Western Sahara is also a major factor of political stability in Morocco: according to the authorities, the fastening of the territory is the national consensus object, and a government which would act against this consensus would run up immediately against a strong hostility of the population.
Morocco affirms that Polisario belonged to islamist mobility , and that some of its leaders are dependant with networks jihadists. He does not recognize officially Polisario like organization representative of the population sahraouie, and considers that it is about a movement handled by Algeria, only part with which Morocco is ready to negotiate.
In 2006, the Morocco decided to give so that he regards as his territory an internal autonomy, and entrusted to the advisory royal Conseil for the Saharan businesses (CORCAS) the study of the possible statutes of autonomy in the area. However, Polisario and Algeria refuse any solution which does not comprise the option of the independence of the disputed territory.
Morocco recommends a broad autonomy within the framework of the sovereignty of the kingdom alaouite to solve the conflict of the Western Sahara, an old Spanish colony under control of Reduction since 1975. The proposal for an autonomy of the Western Sahara is according to Rabat a “modernistic, democratic and credible” step, taking account of the political process that knows the Cherifien kingdom these last years. This project is supported by several countries like (the United States, the France, Israel, the Spain, the Mexico…)
Position of PolisarioAugust 1st
Algerian positionAugust 1st
See also: Demography of the Western Sahara
RefugeesAccording to the Head office of the humanitarian aid (ECHO) of the European commission: 165000 refugees sahraouis are in the camps of Tindouf, in Algeria. The Office of the High Commission of the United Nations for the refugees nourishes some: 90000. Morocco disputes these figures, and a former member of the Polisario Face speaks about: 25000 refugees.
Moroccan areas on the territory of the Western SaharaSee also: Subdivisions of Morocco
Morocco, which considers that the Western Sahara belonged to its territory, included it in three areas:
- Guelmim-Es Smara (partly)
- Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia el Hamra (entirely)
- Wadi ED-Dahab-Lagouira (entirely)
This regional cutting is not recognized internationally, and the areas also cover the territory controlled by the Polisario Face, where Morocco does not exert any control.
Cities and villages of the Western SaharaThe essence of the population is in Laâyoune (approx.: 200000 inhabitants).
Under control of Morocco
- Bir Gandus (Bir Gandouz)
- Bou Craa (phosphate mine)
- Al Farcia
- * Imlily
- Oum Dreyga
Under control of the Polisario FaceNo recent statistics of population are available for the localities under control of Polisario. The total population represents to more the few thousands of people, in nomads majority.
- Bir Lehlou, temporary capital of the RASD
- Bir Tirrissit
- Tifariti, subcapitale temporary of the RASD
- Zoug (Zug, Sug)
EconomyThe independent sources of income are the Pastoralisme, the fishing and the extraction of Phosphate, which represents more than 60% of exports. The phosphate reserves of the Western Sahara are the second in the world in importance, after those of Morocco; they are concentrated around Bou Craa. The Spaniards also discovered deposits of Iron ore.
The tiny rainfall does not allow durable agricultural production apart from some Fruit S and Légume S cultivated in the Oasis, and the essence of the food intended for the urban populations is imported. The trade and the economic activity are controlled by Morocco. Moroccan companies of the energetic sector signed into 2001 of the contracts of exploration of Pétrole off the coast, which caused the anger of the Polisario Face.
The income and the average Standard of living in the Western Sahara are appreciably lower than those of Morocco.
TransportThere is no Railroad in the Western Sahara, and: 6200 km of roads, of which: 1350 km are tarred.
The ports are: AD Dakhla, Boujdour, and Laâyoune.
Largest Conveying belt of world (96 km) transports phosphate of the mines of Bou Craa to the coast close to Laâyoune.
There are 11 aerodromes, including 3 tarred tracks.
CodesThe Western Sahara has as codes:
- EH, according to the standard ISO 3166-1 (code list country), code alpha-2,
- ESH, according to the standard ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 (code list country),
- ESH, according to the Code list countries used by NATO, code alpha-3,
- WI, according to the Code list countries used by NATO, code alpha-2,
- C.R. Pennell, Morocco since 1830 , New York University Near, New York, 2000, International ISBN 0-8147-6676-5
- Crisis Group, Sahara Western: the Cost off the Conflict , report/ratio 65, June 11th, 2007, lira in line
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