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African Union - IDIA

African Union - IDIA

PhilMUN 2007 7

PhilMUN 2007 7 generation of resistance parties. 21 Founded in July 1972 in Rabat, Morocco, Morehob’s goal was to “lead a struggle against Spanish colonialism.” 22 The royalist group often referred to Morocco as the “mother country,” and wanted the African kingdom to replace Spain as its ruling nation. Morehob was small throughout its existence, and moved between Morocco, Algeria and Europe before finally dissolving in 1975. One year before Morehob’s demise, a different party arose in the southern area of the territory. Created in 1974 with the encouragement of the Spanish government, the Partido de la Unión Nacional Saharawi (PUNS) was established to create an independent state for the Saharawis closely linked to Spain. Backed by colonial power and championed by supporters of Saharawi self-determination, the future of PUNS looked promising; however, the group was seen by some as too supportive of the status quo. Members often clashed violently with other liberation movements, most notably the Saharawi Liberation Front, commonly referred to as the Polisario Front. The Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Río de Oro (Polisario Front) was founded on the 10 May 1973. A tighter, reworked version of the “embryonic movement for the liberation of the Sahara,” the group was formed by a secret congress of anti-colonial militants, Saharawi students from Morocco, and well-educated youth still living in the Western Sahara. Shortly after, a special executive committee appointed by the congress issued a manifesto to publicize creation of the Polisario Front. The manifesto clearly laid out the goals of the group: to reject all forms of colonialism and exercise self-determination. In its mission statement, the Front stated its initial goal, stating: The Polisario Front is born as a unique expression of the masses, opting for revolutionary violence and the armed struggle as the means by which the Saharawi Arab African people can recover total liberty and foil the manoeuvres of Spanish colonialism. 23 21 Pazzanita, Anthony and Tony Hodges. “The Mouvement de Resistance ‘Les Hommes Bleus’ (MOREHOB),” Historical Dictionary of the Western Sahara, (New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1994): 300. 22 Ibid 300. 23 Ibid.162-3.

land.” 25 Despite receiving almost no external support its first two years, the Polisario Front PhilMUN 2007 8 This first public statement spoke largely of political ideals but did not mention any particular course of action, hazily referring to a general “total liberty.” 24 One year later, a second congress meeting 25-31 August 1974 more clearly defined the Polisario Front’s goals: “In the face of these manoeuvres, the Saharawi people have no alternative but to struggle until wresting independence, their wealth, and their full sovereignty over the raided a Spanish port days after issuing its first manifesto and began publishing a monthly journal called 20 de Mayo the following October. Algeria was at first reluctant to support Polisario, focusing its energies on Morehob until 1975, when the government decided that the faction was ineffective. Eventually, Libya gave the group broadcasting facilities and a small amount of arms as Mauritania issued a few passports and harbored some Polisario leaders. Mauritania also tacitly involved itself in guerilla missions. When Spain finally withdrew from the region, Polisario began to assert itself as the voice and fist of self-determination of Western Sahara, announcing the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as an independent state. 26 SADR is now recognized by seventy different regimes, including the Palestine Liberation Organization. 27 Religious Unity and Political Tension Religious and political life were enmeshed in the early centuries of Islam. 28 A pledge of religious allegiance by a population to an Islamic ruler (“bai’a”) gives religious sovereignty to that leader. For example, the Moroccan sultan was the “steward of God,” personifying both the church and the state. The Sunni Muslim Saharawis in the Western Sahara likewise pledged this allegiance to the Moroccan sultans in the 19 th and early 20 th Centuries. It is important to re-emphasize here that, because the sultan was recognized as the head of the Muslim church, it was possible to accept him as a religious leader while 24 25 26 27 28 Ibid. 164. Ibid. Ruddy, 52. Ryan, 40. Damis, 19.

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