Western Sahara: Resolution Between Three, Not Two Parties

PITAPOLICY is excited that its founder, Mehrunisa Qayyum, contributed her first piece to the Atlantic Council’s MENASource Blog.  The Atlantic Council is a Washington, DC based think tank that houses the Rafik Hariri Center focusing on the Middle East & North Africa region (Tweet at @ACMIDEAST).  Prior to that, Qayyum contributed to their EgyptSource Blog by writing about institutions, trade relations, and Egypt’s military industrial complex.  Qayyum shares one point of view regarding the Morocco-Algeria dispute of the Western Sahara, and the native Sahwari people, while PITAPAL, Nabil Ouchagour, offers a counterpoint.  He tweets as @nabilouchagour. 

Perception of a Binary Conflict: Wrong

Tensions between Algeria and Morocco reignited on the thirty-eighth anniversary of the Green March, when Morocco reclaimed the Western Sahara territory left behind by Spain in 1975. Although ongoing tensions between Morocco and Algeria over this issue contribute to the perception of a binary conflict, the reality is that three concerned parties—including the Sahwari Polisario Front, the representative body originating from the territory—have a stake in a final resolution.

The Western Sahara Conflict epitomizes how two governments equally use political posturing to assert their regional influence. Algeria’s president, for example, called for “the establishment of an international mechanism to monitor human rights in the Western Sahara,” on November 1. Shortly after the Algerian President’s statement, Morocco recalled its ambassador from Algiers and a group of protesters tore down the flag at the Algerian consulate in Casablanca. To be fair, many Moroccans condemned this action, but in the words of a fellow Moroccan blogger, the conflict is as much about the transparency of the Polisario Front as much as it involves the resolution of a territorial dispute. Nonetheless, the Polisario is recognized by many African countries and UN Security Council members, so questioning their legitimacy only delays negotiations. [Click here to continue.]

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Filed under Analysis, PIDE (Policy, International Development & Economics), Politics

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