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Special Political and Decolonization Western Sahara - IDIA

Special Political and Decolonization Western Sahara - IDIA

Rutgers Model United

Rutgers Model United Nations 11 influence Morocco’s desire to remain in control of the Western Sahara territory: phosphate reserves, fish stokes, and the hope of finding oil. 41 Looking to capitalize off of various resources present in Western Sahara, Morocco is opposed to any plan explicitly offering independence as a result. 42 POLISARIO (Polisario Front) POLISARIO was founded in 1973 with the intention of bringing to an end Spanish colonization. After the withdrawal of Spain, the POLISARIO signed a peace treaty with Mauritania in 1979 in which Mauritania relinquished claims to Western Sahara and would formally recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the government in exile of Western Sahara. Since the expulsion of the Spanish and the Mauritanians, POLISARIO has fought to dispose of the Moroccan presence in the territory, and has expressed its desire to exercise the right to self-determination through a referendum. Ali Nabib Kentaoui stated that being POLISARIO simply meant being “committed to the liberation of your country.” The goal of the POLISARIO has been the liberation of Western Sahara, which it deems to be illegally occupied through the denial of selfdetermination by Morocco. The UN has consistently upheld the POLISARIO’s calls for a referendum. However, Morocco and the POLISARIO have not agreed on voter eligibility, and the inclusion of independence on the ballot. The Polisario Front and its government in exile is recognized by members of the international community. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is currently a member of the African Union, a position it has enjoyed since it was admitted into the Organization of African Unity in 1984. 43 The Polisario Front has also had to deal with conflict within its ranks. The nationalist movement has been faced with allegations of tribalism, specifically “certain 41 Shelley, Toby. “Natural Resources and the Western Sahara,” Current African Issues, no. 33 (2006): 17 42 Spector 43 Zoubir, Yahia. “The Western Sahara Conflict: Regional and International Dimesnions” The Journal of Modern African Studies (1990): 227

Rutgers Model United Nations 12 social groups, especially the Rgaybat have dominated leadership positions.” 44 Claims of tribalism directly challenge the portrayal of POLISARIO as being egalitarian, democratic, and socialist. Furthermore, throughout the progression of the conflict the aims of members of the POLISARIO have shifted, leading to notable defectors. One of the first defectors, Omar Hadrami, who alleged to be imprisoned in solitary confinement, stated that independence became unrealistic. Algeria Since the formation of the POLISARIO and the formation of the SADR, Algeria has supported the Sahrawi right to self-determination. In 1975, Algerian President Boumedienne advanced Algerian support of the POLISARIO once he became aware of the Saharawi nationalist goals, and Morocco’s attempts to redraw its borders. Primarily rooted in its own experiences, Algerian support for POLISARIO was also rooted in political survival. The Algerian stake in the Western Saharan conflict originated in the saving of the Moroccan-Algerian détente. 45 President Boumedienne through his support of the POLISARIO hoped to end the Algerian-Moroccan border issue, and to illustrate to King Hassan II that territorial expansion would not be tolerated. 46 Moroccan success in Western Sahara would be in direct opposition of a fundamental principle of the OAU (now the African Union), which is the sanctity of the borders inherited from colonialism. Furthermore, Moroccan advances in Western Sahara, despite earlier agreements, put Algeria in danger. Defying the sanctity of borders principle in regards to Western Sahara demonstrated to Algeria that despite Morocco’s ratification of the 1972 Algerian- Morocco border convention, Morocco might still assert claims to portions of Algeria. In 1988 Algerian President Bendjedid explained the Algerian stance regarding Western Sahara stating, “We believe that the Sahrawi question is a just one.” 47 Rooted in the Algerian war for independence, Algerian foreign policy is nationalistic in nature. 44 Zunes and Mundy 45 Hodges, 194 46 Ibid, 194 47 Zoubir (1996), 197

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