African Union - IDIA
PhilMUN 2007 5 successful conquest of Villa Cisneros, now known as Dhakla. A Spanish royal decree announced: considering the importance of the Spanish installations … and in the view of the documents signed by independent tribes … who have on various occasions asked for and obtained the protection of the Spanish … the King has decided … to take under his protection the territories … between Bahia del Oeste [La Guera] and Cape Bojaodr. 11 For the first time, the Spanish Monarch claimed specific sovereignty over the people of the Western Sahara When the major European powers met at the Berlin Conference of 1885 to divide Africa into colonies, they ratified the Spanish proclamation. Spain also agreed to share with France what was to become the Kingdom of Morocco, and until 1930 considered the Rio de Oro its formally occupied territory. Because the Western Sahara was not reaching its expected economic potential between 1934 and 1946, it was annexed to its protectorate in northern Morocco. 12 It became a part of the Africa Occidental Española (AOE) in 1946 and remained so until the dissolution of the AOE in 1958. By 1956, the Istiqlal party in Morocco won independence, giving the Saharawi people hope for freedom, thereby intensifying their rebelliousness. 13 This movement continued to increase with Tunisian independence and the Algerian liberation war. Despite violent resistance from the Saharawi people, Spain continued to claim ownership of the “Spanish Sahara.” At one point, the Spanish recruited French assistance, and together pursued military action, entitled the “Ecouvillon,” which subdued Saharawi resistance. This continued until the mid-20 th Century, when U.N. pressure and physical conflict began to erode Spain’s colonial authority. 14 By 1960, the international community increasingly advocated decolonization. This pressure increased over the next few years, and by 1963, the General Assembly adopted a resolution requesting that Spain grant independence to the Saharawis. On 20 December 1966, the General Assembly passed another resolution, this time asking Spain to organize a referendum to decide the 11 Damis 8. 12 Aggad. 13 Ibid. 14 “Triumph For Procrastination.” The Economist (4 November 2000) 52.
PhilMUN 2007 6 fate of the Saharawi people. Morocco and Mauritania already supported an independent Western Sahara, and by the Nouadhibou meeting Algeria was in support as well. 15 Surmounting international support, combined with skirmishes with the Saharawi liberation front beginning in 1974, led Spain to announce the following August that it would hold a referendum allowing the Saharawans to determine the future of the territory. 16 While the Kingdom of Morocco had supported Saharawan independence just a decade earlier, the state reconsidered its position on the issue. Just before Spain announced its plan to offer independence to the Saharawis, Morocco asserted its presence and its authority by sending three hundred-fifty thousand Moroccan civilians to settle the Western Saharan territory. 17 During this “Green March,” one hundred thousand Sahawaris sought refuge near Tindouf, a garrison town in Algeria. 18 This action drew much attention from the international community, especially the United Nations. The march even resulted in a 6 November 1975 Security Council resolution condemning the Moroccan action and calling on Morocco to “withdraw from the Territory of Western Sahara all the participants in the march.” 19 Resistance and the Emergence of the Polisario Front Resistance by the Saharawi people was a strong force within the region dating to colonization of the region. The Saharawis challenged the Spanish as early as 1906 despite repeated Spanish attempts to quash liberation movements. The liberation cause enjoyed an intense but factional revitalization just before and shortly after Spain finally handed administration of the territory to Morocco in 1975. 20 The Mouvement de Resistance “Les Hommes Bleus” (Morehob) was one of the first organizations in the new 15 Western Sahara Online. 2003. History: detailed chronology. www.wsahara.net/history.html 16 Ibid. 548. 17 “Triumph For Procrastination.” 52. 18 Ibid. 52. 19 Aggad. 20 Ruddy. 52.