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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 19 sovereignty and Unity.” 73 The POLISARIO have rejected the Moroccan Plan, and have continued to call for a referendum. 74 The two main actors in the conflict cannot find common ground on the issues with Morocco, most recently supporting autonomy, and the POLISARIO sticking with referendum. These deadlocked positions are further exacerbated by the very limited action by the international community. Strategic Importance of Morocco The events of 11 September 2001 altered the peace negotiations once again. The attack on the World Trade Centers in New York reasserted the importance of Morocco as an ally in the global struggle against terrorism. 75 By 2004, then United States President George W. Bush was undermining James Baker’s efforts to solve the problem of Western Sahara. In conjunction with the September 11 th attack, the 2003 suicide attacks in Casablanca, among other terrorist activities drew attention to Morocco’s perceived vulnerabilities, and justified United States support for the Moroccan government. 76 The strategic importance of Morocco in implementing US policies in the Middle East and Africa has increased interest in the state. Since the September 11 th attacks, Morocco has been instrumental in the war on terror. A significant portion of the rhetoric surrounding the war on terror has been the idea that terrorist organizations flourish in weak states with porous borders. 77 Along these lines an independent Western Sahara posed a threat not only to Morocco, but also to the United States. It was feared that an independent Western Sahara would be weak, unstable, and open to anti-US influences. 78 Thus, in 2008 President Bush declared US support for autonomy as the only solution for Western Sahara because “an independent state in the Sahara is not a realistic option.” 79 The strategic importance of Morocco as a 73 Spector, 125 74 Alexis Arieff, Congressional Research Service, “Western Sahara,” 5 April 2012 75 Zunes and Mundy, 70 76 Ibid. 77 Ibid. 78 Ibid. 79 Zunes and Mundy, 74

Rutgers Model United Nations 20 US ally in the war on terror has thus aided in the elongation of the Western Saharan conflict, as the United States has generally supported Moroccan claims. French policy (which has greatly contributed to the lack of European Union action regarding Western Sahara) complements the US policy regarding the region. 80 For geostrategic reasons, France has supported Morocco throughout much of the conflict. Not only acting behind the scenes in its support for Morocco, France has also intervened militarily in the Western Saharan conflict. The importance of France and the United States to the peace process was demonstrated with the introduction of the 2001 Framework agreement by UN envoy James Baker. The agreement not only called for signatures from Morocco and POLISARIO, but also from the United States and France to “guarantee performance.” 81 Comparison of Causes The causes all demonstrate how the conflict of Western Sahara has continued for over 30 years. Morocco’s desire to enrich itself through the phosphate reserves in Western Sahara, and the Western Saharan fisheries greatly contributed to Morocco’s desire to maintain control over the territory. The other two causes demonstrate the factors, which have made this conflict a difficult one to solve. Both Morocco and the Polisario Front desire different outcomes from a self-determination referendum. Before the referendum can even be put into place, the parties must agree on voter eligibility as their preferred outcomes rest on who is eligible to vote. Lastly, due to Morocco’s strategic position regarding preventing terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, members of the international community have supported Morocco despite its violation of the right to self-determination. The combination of these factors has sustained the Western Saharan conflict over the past 30 years. 80 Zunes and Mundy 81 Zunes and Mundy, 78

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