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Western Sahara Conflict

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Dustin Wellbaum

on 30 May 2011

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Transcript of Western Sahara Conflict

Geography of Western Sahara 266,000 km2, (size of Great Britain) mostly arid land, desert

1100 km Atlantic coastline
bordering Morocco, Algeria, and Mauretania Status of Western Sahara administratively part of Morocco's ”Southern Provinces”

according to UN a ”non-self-governing territory, Polisario a legitimate representative

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) (since 1973)
Polisario proclaimed Western Sahara the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) 1976. SADR is recognized by several (mostly African) states and is a member of AU

The country is divided in two, along a 1,500 km north-south defensive wall (the Berm) built by Morocco. The larger western area covering 85% is controlled by Morocco while Polisario controls the remaining scarcely populated 15% Population of Western Sahara contested figures

393,000 (July 2008)
507,160 (July 2011 estimate CIA)

inhabitants in Moroccan controlled areas 360,000 a ”large share” of which are Moroccan (ICG)

Polisario claims that 50,000 Sahrawis have fled from the Moroccan controlled area to the 15% of the country that Polisario controls. Indiginous pop in the 15%-desert-area maximum a few thousands 74,000 in Spanish census 1974, Polisario's main tool for establishing electoral register in referendum on independence

Tindouf Refugee camps population 125,000, according to UN High Commisionar for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Program (WFP)
According to Polisario the number of refugees in the Tindouf camps are 158,000. Number of refugees according to CIA 102,000
Morocco do not trust UN figures since they are estimates only

Number of refugees in Mauretania 20,000-30,000, Spain 12,000-15,000, and Cuba 3,500

Native Sahrawis speak the Arabic dialect Hassaniya which is also spoken in Mauretania but not in Morocco. Conflict enhances tribalism and clientelism, a faction of Rguibat tribe dominant in Polisario

Aswad (black people) constitute a minority of the Sahrawis, or the ”Moorish” population. Slavery is officially eradicated but practicies of slavery is still present in the Tindouf camps. Black women need the consent of their ”owners” and a qadi (personal-status judge) to marry. These practicies resembles similar practicies in Mauretania and Mali. Also in Western Sahara controlled by Morocco slavery practicies persists. Polisario is actively opposing slavery. Honor related issues such as protective confinement of women is also present in camps.

Harsh living conditions in the camps, the Hamada (a rocky plateau) of Tindouf is one of the most inhospitable parts of Sahara gives health care problems especially for women and children

Frequent use of landmines Economical aspects of occupation GDP/capita 2007 in Moroccan controlled Western Sahara USD2,500
Morocco 4,900, Mauretania 2,100, Algeria 7,400, Egypt 6,200 (all 2010)

0.02% arable land, but rich fishing waters, Sahrawi near coast fishing generated USD242 million 2005 EU fishing rights agreement with Morocco since 2006, including off the coast of Western Sahara, EU fishing not legal according to international law
value EURO36.1 million, ca USD18 million worth for Western Saharan part

Western Sahara holds 75% of phosphate world reserves (50 billion tons), phosphate mining annual capacity 2.4 millon tons, sold for USD40/ton until recent year, now USD130/ton = USD312 million annually Morocco annual military expenditure 5 billion, some 50% of which is spent in Western Sahara, add administrative costs and infrastructure investments

Occupation is economically disastrous and drains Morocco's limited resources, that could have been spent on fighting poverty

Badly governed area also encompassing parts of Algeria and Mauretania a zone of trafficking of drugs, people, and various contraband, black market economy large The Conflict in Western Sahara – Historical Background 1882 Spain include Western Sahara in its sphere of influence.

1950s-1970s Saharawi nationalism emerges. 1975 Spain agrees to arrange a referendum but end up partitioning the territory between Morocco and Mauritania after 350.000 Moroccans to enter the territory during “the Green March”.

1976 The Polisario declares the independent Saharan Arab Democratic Republic and launches an armed liberation struggle. 1980s induces Morocco builds a 950 km wall dividing the Moroccan and Polisario run territory.

Negotiations over the referendum stalled by Morocco. 1978 Mauritania renounces its share of the Western Sahara territory.

1991 A ceasefire is brokered by the UN. Main Actors in the Conflict Morocco has occupied Western Sahara ever since 1975 and the termination of Spanish colonial rule, in violation of resolutions by the UN Security Council and a decision by the International Court of Justice of that time. The Polisario Front is a military force of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a self-proclaimed (and internationally recognized by 81 member of the UN) entity ought to occupy West Saharan territory. Algeria houses the Sahrawis' refugee camps and has been the main military sponsor of the Polisario movement since its establishment and has shown an unconditional support for the Polisario since 1975, delivering arms, training, financial aid, and food, without interruption for more than 30 years. The United States has provided military, economic, and diplomatic support for Morocco’s war effort from the very beginning of the dispute. Morocco The Polisario Front Algeria The United States
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