Western Sahara is a region in the midst of a dispute between Morocco, which is in charge of Western Sahara, and the Polisario Front, which is inclined to be a self-governing territory. The rivalry has sparked a number of fights between the Moroccan military and the Polisario Front over the years since 1975. While there was a cease-fire in 1991 that put an end to military combat, Western Sahara continues to be a contested region. The bulk of Western Sahara, including the Atlantic coast, is dominated by Morocco today. The United Nations on the other end refers to Western Sahara as a territory that is non-self-governing and keeps a position of favoring self-determination for its citizens. The essay will discuss the position that Morocco is the primary cause of the conflict of the Western Sahara and how the United States has contributed to establishing the battle.
Morocco_x0092_s Claim to Spanish Sahara
The claim of Morocco on the Western Sahara dates back to its independence when the leader of the Allal el-Fassi in 1956 shouted that their freedom would not be complete without the Sahara. This was a time before the name Spanish Sahara was changed to Western Sahara. King further went ahead to ask that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider their claims to the Western Sahara but the ICJ quickly turned them down (Zunes & Mundy, 2012). Morocco_x0092_s request was also turned down by the Spanish government after which the Spanish officials were able to convince the United Nations to start an investigation on whether the Sahrawi people wanted to be independent or annexed by Morocco. The UN found that the Sahrawi people wanted independence thus making them to rule in favor of the freedom of the Spanish Sahara on October 14, 1974.
In disagreement with the decision of the United Nations responded by through the Green March on November 6, 1974 (Zunes & Mundy, 2012). The peaceful march across the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara had 524,000 Moroccans civilians as they wanted to occupy the region that they believed to be their Southern Provinces. The Spanish government ordered their military to retreat and withdraw their forces because they were not willing to have a confrontation with civilians, who were not armed, break their relations or start a war with Morocco. This provoked negotiation talks between Mauritania, Morocco, and Spain. The outcome of the negotiations was the Madrid Accords which stated that Spain would leave the territory by February in 1976 (Zunes & Mundy, 2012).
As stated above the conflict started in 1975 after the march by thousands of Moroccans surrounded by the Moroccan military as they crossed into the Western Sahara disregarding Spain who were the rulers at the time. Spain at the time was fearful of a protracted military warfare, and it also was experiencing internal challenges, so they agreed to let Morocco get the northern portion and the Southern colony to Mauritania. Both Morocco and Mauritania never acknowledge the Sahrawi as individuals who were sovereign which forced the Polisario Front in 1975 to intervene (Zunes & Mundy, 2012). The Polisario Front began the guerrilla war which was focused on driving away the forces of Morocco and Mauritania so as to ensure the Western Sahara becomes an independent state. In 1978 Mauritania decide to leave the region and Morocco took advantage of them pulling out and took control of the Southern territory as well.
The relationship between the United States and Morocco has always been based on friendly, strategic and political considerations because of the Saharan war (Ohaegbulam, 2014).
Due to the significant amount of economic and military support offered by American_x0092_s, Morocco arranged itself to be near the west during cold by expanding their already useful and strong ties with the U.S. This is the reason why the U.S had a strong inception on Western Sahara because it sided with Morocco ever since the conflict that took place at Sub Saharan Africa. The fear America had concerning the emergence of a pro-Soviet state is what made it support Morocco Intensively. In this case, since Morocco proved itself to be valuable to the U.S in regard to the Middle East, its government also developed positive posture because of Israel (Ohaegbulam, 2014). This made Morocco support the peaceful negotiation all through the war duration between Israel and Arabs. Moreover, Morocco even sent over 2,000 troops to America during the Gulf war in 1991 which according to the America policymakers, was an unforgettable move (Ohaegbulam, 2014).
The policy that Morocco adopted has made it have favor from the U.S because America also expanded its interest in the region. Since then, Morocco was always committed to promoting and supporting the presence of the U.S. near the East and in North Africa, an exertion that was valued by America (Ohaegbulam, 2014). As a result, whenever there was a conflict at Western Sahara the U.S has never sacrificed their valuable and productive relationship with Morocco by fighting for peace, self-determination, and freedom of the Sahrawi people. Instead, America came up with a policy that favored Morocco_x0092_s desire for independence over the Western Sahara people. In this case, the U.S has always managed to direct the U.N to supply the Morocco army with military equipment. It can be argued that America has been the leading cause of why the Western Sahara conflict never ended (Ohaegbulam, 2014).
Morocco argued that the support for an independent government that was spared by Western Sahara was the leading cause of the development of the Moroccan American center policy. Their claim was that if there were further instability in the region, then criminal activities and terrorism would increase. However, there were numerous factors that Morocco played in its ongoing political rivalry with Algeria that showed how it supported the Polisario_x0092_s fight to gain independence at the Sahrawi state. Moreover, since Western Sahara was quite rich in minerals, it offered over 700 miles of its Atlantic coastline for offshore oil drilling and fishing which at the end made it its economy valuable (Ohaegbulam, 2014).
Morocco today controls over 1,700 miles of the west region where the berm splits the north and south of Western Sahara. The area is also fortified by trenches that are patrolled by troops as well as an active wall that cuts through the Polisario territory. This has made the eastern region more unliveable. Over the years the situation has been worsening because millions of dollars have been wasted, most Sahrawi_x0092_s residents have been displayed thus forcing them to live in campsites. Also, there is a generation of kids that have never lived in their homes in Western Sahara because Polisario was considered a dangerous territory because of the ongoing war. Also, peace was never attained because of the relationship between the U.S and Morocco.
Ohaegbulam, F. U. (2014). U.S. policy in postcolonial Africa: four case studies in conflict resolution. New York: P. Lang.
Zunes, S., & Mundy, J. (2012). Western Sahara: war, nationalism, and conflict irresolution. Syracuse (N.Y.): Syracuse University Press.