Political status of Western Sahara
Western Sahara the Spanish colony of Spanish Sahara, is a disputed territory claimed by both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro, an independence movement based in Algeria. It is listed by the United Nations as a non-decolonized territory and is thus included in the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Since the Madrid Accords of 1975, a part of Western Sahara has been administered by Morocco as the Southern Provinces. Another section, the Liberated Territories, is administered by the Polisario Front as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Mauritania administers the western half of the Ras Nouadhibou Peninsula. A UN-monitored cease-fire has been in effect since September 1991. While no other country has recognized Morocco's unilateral annexation of Western Sahara, a number of countries have expressed their support for a future recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory as an autonomous part of the Kingdom.
There is, for instance, a de facto recognition of the Moroccan claim on the part of some countries such as the case of the United Kingdom. Although the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office treats the status of Western Sahara as'undetermined', its lack of reference to its current effective partition, considering the existence of the Polisario-held areas, indicates an acceptance of Morocco as the administering power in the entire territory. Overall, the annexation has not garnered as much attention in the international community as many other disputed annexations. In order to resolve the sovereignty issue, the UN has attempted to hold a referendum through the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, is holding direct talks between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front; the UN recognizes neither SADR sovereignty over Western Sahara. The official position of the Kingdom of Morocco since 1963 is that all of Western Sahara is an integral part of the kingdom; the Moroccan government refers to Western Sahara only as "Moroccan Sahara", the "Saharan provinces", or the "Southern Provinces".
According to the Moroccan government, in 1958 the Moroccan Army of Liberation fought Spanish colonizers and liberated what was Spanish Sahara. The fathers of many of the Polisario leaders were among the veterans of the Moroccan Southern Army, for example the father of Polisario leader Mohammed Abdelaziz. Morocco is supported in this view by a number of former Polisario leaders; the Polisario Front is considered by Morocco to be a Moroccan separatist movement, referring to the Moroccan origins of most of its founding members, its self-proclaimed SADR to be a puppet state used by Algeria to fight a proxy war against Morocco. The Polisario Front backed by Algeria, is described by itself and its supporters as a national liberation movement that opposes Moroccan control of Western Sahara, whilst it is considered by Morocco and supporters of Morocco's claims over the Western Sahara to be a separatist organisation, it began as a movement of students who felt torn between the divergent Spanish and Moroccan influences on the country.
The original goal of the Polisario, to end Spanish colonialism in the region, was achieved, but their neighbors and Mauritania, seized sovereignty of the region, which the Polisario felt was entitled to self-determination and interdependence. The Polisario engaged in guerrilla warfare with the Mauritanian forces, it evacuated the Sahrawi population to the Tindouf refugee camps due to Royal Moroccan Air Force bombing of the refugee camps on Sahrawi land with napalm and white phosphorus. The Polisario Front has called for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara to be decided through a referendum. Although the SADR is not recognised as a state by the UN, the Polisario is considered a direct participant in the conflict and as the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, recognized by the United Nations since 1979; the Polisario Front argues that Morocco's position is due to economical interests and political reasons. The Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in Bir Lehlou, on 27 February 1976.
Claims on Western Sahara had proliferated since the 1960s, fuelled by Mauritanian President Moktar Ould Daddah. Before Mauritania signed the Madrid Accords and after the withdrawal of the last Spanish forces, in late 1975, the Mauritanian Army invaded the southern part of Western Sahara, while the Moroccan Army did the same in the north. In April 1976, Mauritania and Morocco partitioned the country into three parts, Mauritania getting the southern one, named Tiris al-Gharbiyya. Mauritania waged four years of war against Polisario guerrillas, conducting raids on Nouakchott, attacks on the Zouerate mine train and a coup d'état that deposed Ould Daddah. Mauritania withdrew in the summer of 1979, after signing the Algiers Agreement with the Polisario Front, recognizing the right of self-determination for the Sahrawi people, renouncing any claims on Western Sahara; the Moroccan Army took control of the former Mauritanian territory. Mauritania recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on 27 February 1984.
Algeria has supported the independence of the whole of Western Sahara since 1975, when Spanish forces and settlers withdrew from the area. It is one of the few countries to do so in the Arab League, it has provided aid to the'Polisario Front'. Algeria's role became in
Algeria the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. The capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the far north of the country on the Mediterranean coast. With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres, Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, the world's largest Arab country, the largest in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, to the north by the Mediterranean Sea; the country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 1,541 communes. It has the highest human development index of all non-island African countries. Ancient Algeria has known many empires and dynasties, including ancient Numidians, Carthaginians, Vandals, Umayyads, Idrisid, Rustamid, Zirid, Almoravids, Spaniards and the French colonial empire. Berbers are the indigenous inhabitants of Algeria. Algeria is a middle power.
It supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 16th largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has one of the largest defence budget on the continent. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League, OPEC, the United Nations and is a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union. On 2 April 2019, president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after nearly 20 years in power, following pressure from the country’s army after mass protests against Bouteflika's campaign for a fifth term; the country's name derives from the city of Algiers. The city's name in turn derives from the Arabic al-Jazā'ir, a truncated form of the older Jazā'ir Banī Mazghanna, employed by medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi. In the region of Ain Hanech, early remnants of hominid occupation in North Africa were found.
Neanderthal tool makers produced hand axes in the Levalloisian and Mousterian styles similar to those in the Levant. Algeria was the site of the highest state of development of Middle Paleolithic Flake tool techniques. Tools of this era, starting about 30,000 BC, are called Aterian; the earliest blade industries in North Africa are called Iberomaurusian. This industry appears to have spread throughout the coastal regions of the Maghreb between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. Neolithic civilization developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean Maghreb as early as 11,000 BC or as late as between 6000 and 2000 BC; this life, richly depicted in the Tassili n'Ajjer paintings, predominated in Algeria until the classical period. The mixture of peoples of North Africa coalesced into a distinct native population that came to be called Berbers, who are the indigenous peoples of northern Africa. From their principal center of power at Carthage, the Carthaginians expanded and established small settlements along the North African coast.
These settlements served as market towns as well as anchorages. As Carthaginian power grew, its impact on the indigenous population increased dramatically. Berber civilization was at a stage in which agriculture, manufacturing and political organization supported several states. Trade links between Carthage and the Berbers in the interior grew, but territorial expansion resulted in the enslavement or military recruitment of some Berbers and in the extraction of tribute from others. By the early 4th century BC, Berbers formed the single largest element of the Carthaginian army. In the Revolt of the Mercenaries, Berber soldiers rebelled from 241 to 238 BC after being unpaid following the defeat of Carthage in the First Punic War, they succeeded in obtaining control of much of Carthage's North African territory, they minted coins bearing the name Libyan, used in Greek to describe natives of North Africa. The Carthaginian state declined because of successive defeats by the Romans in the Punic Wars.
In 146 BC the city of Carthage was destroyed. As Carthaginian power waned, the influence of Berber leaders in the hinterland grew. By the 2nd century BC, several large but loosely administered Berber kingdoms had emerged. Two of them were established behind the coastal areas controlled by Carthage. West of Numidia lay Mauretania, which extended across the Moulouya River in modern-day Morocco to the Atlantic Ocean; the high point of Berber civilization, unequaled until the coming of the Almohads and Almoravids more than a millennium was reached during the reign of Masinissa in the 2nd century BC. After Masinissa's death in 148 BC, the Berber kingdoms were reunited several times. Masinissa's line survived until 24 AD, when the remaining Berber territory was annexed to the Roman Empire. For several centuries Algeria was ruled by the Romans. Like the rest of No
The right of a people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law, binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter's norms. It states that people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference; the concept was first expressed in the 1860s, spread thereafter. During and after World War I, the principle was encouraged by both Vladimir Lenin and United States President Woodrow Wilson. Having announced his Fourteen Points on 8 January 1918, on 11 February 1918 Wilson stated: "National aspirations must be respected, it was recognized as an international legal right after it was explicitly listed as a right in the UN Charter. The principle does not state how the decision is to be made, nor what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, protection, some form of autonomy or full assimilation.
Neither does it state what the delimitation between peoples should be—nor what constitutes a people. There are conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination. By extension, the term self-determination has come to mean the free choice of one's own acts without external compulsion; the employment of imperialism, through the expansion of empires, the concept of political sovereignty, as developed after the Treaty of Westphalia explain the emergence of self-determination during the modern era. During, after, the Industrial Revolution many groups of people recognized their shared history, geography and customs. Nationalism emerged as a uniting ideology not only between competing powers, but for groups that felt subordinated or disenfranchised inside larger states; such groups pursued independence and sovereignty over territory, but sometimes a different sense of autonomy has been pursued or achieved. The world possessed several traditional, continental empires such as the Ottoman, Austrian/Habsburg, the Qing Empire.
Political scientists define competition in Europe during the Modern Era as a balance of power struggle, which induced various European states to pursue colonial empires, beginning with the Spanish and Portuguese, including the British, French and German. During the early 19th century, competition in Europe produced multiple wars, most notably the Napoleonic Wars. After this conflict, the British Empire became dominant and entered its "imperial century", while nationalism became a powerful political ideology in Europe. After the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, "New Imperialism" was unleashed with France and Germany establishing colonies in Asia, the Pacific, Africa. Japan emerged as a new power. Multiple theaters of competition developed across the world: Africa: multiple European states competed for colonies in the "Scramble for Africa"; the Ottoman Empire, Austrian Empire, Russian Empire, Qing Empire and the new Empire of Japan maintained themselves expanding or contracting at the expense of another empire.
All ignored notions of self-determination for those governed. The revolt of New World British colonists in North America, during the mid-1770s, has been seen as the first assertion of the right of national and democratic self-determination, because of the explicit invocation of natural law, the natural rights of man, as well as the consent of, sovereignty by, the people governed. Thomas Jefferson further promoted the notion that the will of the people was supreme through authorship of the United States Declaration of Independence which inspired Europeans throughout the 19th century; the French Revolution was motivated and legitimatized the ideas of self-determination on that Old World continent. Within the New World during the early 19th century, most of the nations of Spanish America achieved independence from Spain; the United States supported that status, as policy in the hemisphere relative to European colonialism, with the Monroe Doctrine. The American public, organized associated groups, Congressional resolutions supported such movements the Greek War of Independence and the demands of Hungarian revolutionaries in 1848.
Such support, never became official government policy, due to balancing of other national interests. After the American Civil War and with increasing capability, the United States government did not accept self-determination as a basis during its Purchase of Alaska and attempted purchase of the West Indian islands of Saint Thomas and Saint John in the 1860s, or its growing influence in the Hawaiian Islands, that led to annexation in 1898. With its victory in the Spanish–American War in 1899 and its growing stature in the world, the United States supported annexation of the former Spanish colonies of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, without the conse
United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara is the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, established in 1991 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 as part of the Settlement Plan, which had paved way for a cease-fire in the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front over the contested territory of Western Sahara. MINURSO's mission was to monitor the cease-fire and to organize and conduct a referendum in accordance with the Settlement Plan, which would enable the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara to choose between integration with Morocco and independence; this was intended to constitute a Sahrawi exercise of self-determination, thus complete Western Sahara's still-unfinished process of decolonization To this end, MINURSO has been given the following mandates: Monitor the ceasefire Verify the reduction of Moroccan troops in the territory Monitor the confinement of Moroccan and Polisario troops to designated locations Take steps with the parties to ensure the release of all Western Saharan political prisoners or detainees Oversee the exchange of prisoners of war Implement the repatriation programme Identify and register qualified voters Organize and ensure a free and fair referendum and proclaim the results The independence referendum was scheduled for 1992, but conflicts over voter eligibility prevented it from being held.
Both sides blamed each other for stalling the process. In 1997, the Houston Agreement was supposed to restart the process, but again failed. In 2003, the Baker Plan was launched to replace the Settlement Plan, but while accepted by the Polisario and unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, it was rejected by Morocco. Morocco insisted. Following the 1975 Green March, the Moroccan state has sponsored settlement schemes enticing thousands of Moroccans to move into the Moroccan-occupied part of Western Sahara. By 2015, it was estimated that Moroccan settlers made up at least two thirds of the 500,000 inhabitants. Presently, there is no plan for holding the referendum, the viability of the cease-fire is coming into question; the MINURSO mandate has been extended 41 times since 1991. In October 2006 the Security Council passed a resolution extending the mandate of MINURSO to April 2007. A provision decrying human rights abuses by Morocco in Western Sahara had the backing of 14 members of the Security Council, but was deleted due to French objections.
In April 2007 the resolution extending the mandate to October took "note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution" and took "note of the Polisario Front proposal presented on 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General". The representative of South Africa took exception to the way that one proposal was held more worthy than the other as well as the lack of participation outside the Group of Friends in the drafting of the resolution; the October 2007 resolution extending the mandate to April 2008 contained the same preferential wording in its description of the two proposals. The representative of South Africa commented on this again, regretted the fact that the resolution "considered" rather than "welcomed" the report on the situation by the Secretary-General—"presumably because dared to raise the issue of the human rights violations against the Saharawi people", quoted the warning in the report about there being no mandate to address the issue of human rights.
The April 2008 resolution extended the mandate for a full year to April 2009. Before the vote, the representative of Costa Rica expressed his "concern at the manner in which the draft resolution on which we are about to vote was negotiated" and a "difficulty in understanding the absolute refusal to include" references to human rights. MINURSO's budget is 60 million dollars per year. There are two sets of teams, those in the Moroccan-controlled portion west of the berm and those in the Sahrawi-controlled region and refugee camps to the east and in Algeria; the camps west of the berm are located in Mahbes, Umm Dreiga and Auserd. The eastern camps include Bir Lehlou, Mehaires and Agwanit. There is a liaison office in Tindouf which serves as a communication channel with POLISARIO leadership; as of 30 June 2018, MINURSO had a total of 220 uniformed personnel, including 19 contingent troops, 193 experts on mission, 7 staff officers, 1 police officer, supported by 227 civilian personnel, 16 UN Volunteers.
Major troop contributors are Bangladesh and Pakistan. Armed contingents patrol the no man's land that borders the Moroccan Wall, to safeguard the cease-fire. Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission: Colin Stewart Force Commander: Major General Wang Xiaojun Chief of Mission Support: Veneranda Mukandoli-Jefferson Chief of Staff: Alexander Ivanko Head of Liaison Office, Tindouf: Yusef Jedian Other personnel: There have been a total of 16 fatalities in MINURSO: six military personnel, a police officer, a military observer, three international civilian p
Sahrawi refugee camps
The Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, are a collection of refugee camps set up in the Tindouf Province, Algeria in 1975-76 for Sahrawi refugees fleeing from Moroccan forces, who advanced through Western Sahara during the Western Sahara War. With most of the original refugees still living in the camps, the situation is among the most protracted in the world; the limited opportunities for self-reliance in the harsh desert environment have forced the refugees to rely on international humanitarian assistance for their survival. However, the Tindouf camps differ from the majority of refugee camps in the level of self-organization. Most affairs and camp life organization is run by the refugees themselves, with little outside interference; the camps are divided into five wilayas named after towns in Western Sahara. In addition comes the smaller satellite camp "February 27", surrounding the boarding school for women, the administrative camp Rabouni; the encampments are spread out over a quite large area.
While Laayoune, Awserd, February 27 and Rabouni all lie within an hour's drive of the Algerian city of Tindouf, the Dakhla camp lies 170 km to the southeast. The camps are the headquarters of the 6th military region of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic; the refugee camps are governed by Polisario, being administratively part of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. SADR's government in exile and administration are located in the Rabouni camp; the Tindouf camps are divided into administrative sub-units electing their own officials to represent the neighbourhoods in political decision-making. Each of the four wilayas are divided into six or seven daïras, which are in turn divided into hays or barrios. Local committees distribute basic goods and food, while "daïra" authorities made up by the representatives of the "hays" organize schools, cultural activities and medical services; some argue that this results in a form of basic democracy on the level of camp administration, that this has improved the efficiency of aid distribution.
Women are active on several levels of administration, UNHCR has appraised their importance in camp administration and social structures. According to Polisario, Algeria does not intervene in their organization, treating the area as under Sahrawi self-rule, though statements by former Polisario responsibles contradict that. While the Algerian military has a significant presence in the nearby city of Tindouf, Algeria insists that responsibility for human rights in the camps lies with the Polisario. Camp residents are subject to the constitution and laws of SADR. A local justice system, with courts and prisons, is administered by Polisario. Local qadis have jurisdiction over personal family law issues. Polisario has prioritised education from the beginning, the local authorities have established 29 preschools, 31 primary and seven secondary schools, the academic institutions of ‘27 February’ and ‘12 October’ as well as various technical training centres. While teaching materials are still scarce, the literacy rate has increased from about 5% at the formation of the camps to 90% in 1995.
Children's education is obligatory, several thousands have received university educations in Algeria and Spain as part of aid packages. One former camp resident claimed to have been forcefully sent as a child to an indoctrination camp in Cuba, where he was taught to use firearms; the camps have a central hospital and four regional hospitals. Men perform military service in the armed forces of the SADR. During the war years, at least some women were enrolled in auxiliary units guarding the refugee camps; the number of Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf camps is politically sensitive. Morocco argues that Polisario and Algeria overestimate the numbers to attract political attention and foreign aid, while Polisario accuses Morocco of attempting to restrict human aid as a means of pressure on civilian refugee populations; the refugees' numbers will be important in determining their political weight in the possible event of a referendum to determine Western Sahara's future status. Algerian authorities have estimated the number of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria to be 165,000.
This has been supported by Polisario, although the movement recognizes that some refugees have rebased to Mauritania, a country that houses about 26,000 Sahrawis refugees. UNCHR referred to Algeria's figure for many years, but in 2005 concern about it being inflated led the organization to reduce its working figure to 90,000 based on satellite imagery analysis. UNHCR is in dialogue with the Algerian Government and the Sahrawi refugee leadership, seeking to conduct a census to determine the exact number of refugees in the camps. In 1998, UN's Minurso mission identified 42,378 voting-age adults in the camps, counting only those who had contacted the mission's registration offices and subsequently been able to prove their descent from pre-1975 Western Sahara. No attempt was made to estimate the total population number in the camps; the Moroccan government contends that the total number of refugees is around 45,000 to 50,000, that these people are kept in the camps by Polisario against their will.
The Tindouf area is located on a vast desert plain of the Sahara Desert. Summer temperatures in this part of the hammada known as "The Devil's Garden", are above 50°C and frequent sand storms disrupt normal life. There is little or no vegetation, firewood has to be gathered by car tens of kilometers away. Only a few of the camps have access to water, the drinking sources
Western Sahara is a disputed territory on the northwest coast and in the Maghreb region of North and West Africa controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and occupied by neighboring Morocco. Its surface area amounts to 266,000 square kilometres, it is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world consisting of desert flatlands. The population is estimated at just over 500,000, of which nearly 40% live in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara. Occupied by Spain until the late 20th century, Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 after a Moroccan demand, it is the most populous territory on that list, by far the largest in area. In 1965, the UN General Assembly adopted its first resolution on Western Sahara, asking Spain to decolonize the territory. One year a new resolution was passed by the General Assembly requesting that a referendum be held by Spain on self-determination. In 1975, Spain relinquished the administrative control of the territory to a joint administration by Morocco and Mauritania.
A war erupted between those countries and a Sahrawi nationalist movement, the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with a government in exile in Tindouf, Algeria. Mauritania withdrew its claims in 1979, Morocco secured de facto control of most of the territory, including all the major cities and natural resources; the United Nations considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, maintains that the Sahrawis have a right to self-determination. Since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire agreement in 1991, two thirds of the territory has been administered by the Moroccan government, with tacit support from France and the United States, the remainder by the SADR, backed by Algeria. Internationally, countries such as Russia have taken a ambiguous and neutral position on each side's claims, have pressed both parties to agree on a peaceful resolution. Both Morocco and Polisario have sought to boost their claims by accumulating formal recognition from African and Latin American states in the developing world.
The Polisario Front has won formal recognition for SADR from 46 states, was extended membership in the African Union. Morocco has won support for its position from several African governments and from most of the Muslim world and Arab League. In both instances, recognitions have, over the past two decades, been extended and withdrawn according to changing international trends; as of 2017, no other member state of the United Nations has officially recognized Moroccan sovereignty over parts of Western Sahara. However, a number of countries have expressed their support for a future recognition of the Moroccan annexation of the territory as an autonomous part of the Kingdom. Overall, the annexation has not garnered as much attention in the international community as many other disputed annexations. Western Sahara is located on the northwest coast in West Africa and on the cusp of North Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean to the northwest, Morocco proper to the north-northeast, Algeria to the east-northeast, Mauritania to the east and south.
The land is some of the most inhospitable on the planet. The land along the coast is low flat desert and rises in the north, to small mountains reaching up to 600 metres on the eastern side. While the area can experience flash flooding in the spring, there are no permanent streams. At times a cool off-shore current can produce heavy dew; the interior experiences extreme summer heat with average highs reaching as high as 43–45 °C in July and in August. The earliest known inhabitants of Western Sahara were the Gaetuli. Depending on the century, Roman-era sources describe the area as inhabited by Gaetulian Autololes or the Gaetulian Daradae tribes. Berber heritage is still evident from regional and place-name toponymy, as well as from tribal names. Other early inhabitants of Western Sahara may be the Bafour and the Serer; the Bafour were replaced or absorbed by Berber-speaking populations which merged in turn with the migrating Beni Ḥassān Arab tribes. The arrival of Islam in the 8th century played a major role in the development of the Maghreb region.
Trade developed further, the territory may have been one of the routes for caravans between Marrakesh and Tombouctou in Mali. In the 11th century, the Maqil Arabs settled in Morocco. Towards the end of the Almohad Caliphate, the Beni Hassan, a sub-tribe of the Maqil, were called by the local ruler of the Sous to quell a rebellion. During Marinid dynasty rule, the Beni Hassan rebelled but were defeated by the Sultan and escaped beyond the Saguia el-Hamra dry river; the Beni Hassan were at constant war with the Lamtuna nomadic Berbers of the Sahara. Over