My first attention was drawn to this place when working on agroup work in my part 2 in the university, and a lot of amazing things we canlearn from this place. Fast FactWestern Sahara is a disputed territory found in the Maghrebregion of northern Africa. A low, flat desert bounded by the Atlantic to thewest, Algeria to the east, Morocco to the north and Mauritania to the south. Itoccupies a total area of 102, 703 square miles, and has a population of nearly600, 000. Its largest city is EL Aaiun, its monetary unit is Tala, and languagesspoken are: standard Arabic, Hassaniya, Arabic and Moroccan Arabic. It has 6airports, sea-ports and harbours.
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Business goes on as usual such that as at2007, it was estimated to have a GDP of $906. 5 million. You may agree with methat such is a characteristic of a state. However Western Sahara is notconsidered a State.
Why?· Note that for the sake of this write up, ‘ state’refers to an organized community living under a single political structure andgovernment, sovereign or constituent. Historical eventDecades after the Green March, the dispute file of the WesternSahara remains open at the U. N. Different lingering disputes over the years continueto represent one of the main, if not the main threat to the stability of thenorth African region, causing serious rift in the diplomatic relations betweenmorocco, Algeria and spain. For over 14 years, the united nations have tried toput an end to these disputes by proffering lasting solutions. But their effortshave proved abortive over the years. It can be said without mincing words thatthe political future of the area is inherently dependent on the resolution ofthis low-intensity but persistent dispute. In 1976, spain withdrew leaving the forces of Rabat andNouakchott in Morocco to deal with the newly established resistance of the Saharawinationalist movement, led by Frente Polisario, which was known as the polisariofront.
Then these men were few in number, but badly armed. Then later in thatyear, the polisarios proclaimed the birth of the Saharawi Arab DemocraticRepublic (SADR). SovereigntyBecause sovereignty, according to “ Understanding Politics” by Chris Ojukwu, relates to the “ attributesof supreme authority of a state over the territory and people under itsjurisdiction, and exercising absolute and unrestricted power that it standsabove all others in a society”, and the government of the SADR have an unresolveddispute over sovereignty, it cannot be called a state.
After Spain left in1976, Morocco proceeded to occupy two-third of the territory and eventuallylaid claim to the rest in 1979 after the withdrawal of Mauritania. As expectedthere was war and conflict that resulted in the loss of lives and properties. 1991 saw a cease-fire and the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation. TheUN tried to resolve the issue through diplomatic means by offering the peopleof Western Sahara a choice between independence and an integration intoMorocco, with the former being what the polisario wants. Despite this, moroccostill maintains a heavy security presence in the territory. TerritoryAbout 80% of the western Sahara territory is under theMoroccan government, leaving about 20% under the control of SADR, and thisrelatively small land area is called free zone. This free zone has a relativelysmall population of about 30, 000.
The Moroccan government built a 2, 700 km longdefensive sand berm around 1980 to 1987 and running the length of theterritory, and separates the opposition.· So if the SADR cannot control a large percentageof its territory, it is not fit to be called a state!· The UN does not recognize it as a sovereignstate and as such listed it on the UN list of non-self-governing territories. EconomyThe Moroccan government controls the economy and is a keysource of employment, infrastructural development and social spending. As expected, exploitation of natural resources like crude oil, remains a contentious issuedue to the unresolved legal status of the region. On the communication aspect too, the SADR has a sparse andlimited telephone system, with its country code (-212) tied into Morocco’s systemby microwave radio relay technology, tropospheric scatter, and satellite. Human RightsThe long conflict has resulted in severe human rights violationthat has majorly results in the displacement of tens of thousands of Saharawi civiliansfrom their so called country.
Due to the measure of support the Polisarios havefrom the Algerian government, thousands of Moroccans were expelled from Algeriaby the Algerian government. During and after the conflict, both parties accuseeach other of human rights violation and abuse. A typical example is when youth were kidnapped in refugeecamps and sent to Castro’s island of youth, where they are inundated withanti-western teachings.
This was done primarily to Armstrong their families andcoerce their loyalty to the Polisarios cause. ConclusionDespite the effort of the SADR to demonstrate that it is astate like any other, with institutions, flag, diplomats, etc., the action ofthe Morocco government makes it practically impossible. The future of the conflict is uncertain. Morocco has failedin its attempt to convince the international community that the only solutionis to recognize the current status quo.
The status quo, as the Polisario hasmanaged to show, is that of dispute, conflict and contending projects. It is, in other words, that of an unfinished decolonization process.