Morocco Sahara conflict

Ground developments and UN looks for solution

The Sahara desert
The Sahara desert
19 JUN 2016
by

The Moroccan Sahara conflict is an ongoing conflict between the kingdom of Morocco and Polisario Front. The conflict is dominated by unarmed civil campaigns of the Polisario Front and their self-proclaimed SADR state to gain fully recognized independence for Moroccan southern provinces or what is called Western Sahara.

The conflict escalated after the withdrawal of Spain from the Spanish Sahara in accordance with the Madrid Accords. Beginning in 1975, the Polisario Front, backed and supported by Algeria, waged a 16-year-long war for independence against Mauritania and Morocco. In February 1976, the Polisario Front declared the establishment of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which was not admitted into the United Nations, but won limited recognition by a number of other states. The Western Sahara territory remained under Moroccan control, while the Polisario controlled some 20% of the territory in its capacity as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, with additional pockets of control in the Sahrawi refugee camps along the Algerian border.

Algeria officially supports the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination. The efforts invested by Algeria in the Western Sahara conflict, especially at level of its international relations, are comparable or more than to the ones of an involved party such as Morocco. Morocco's position is that Algeria is part of the conflict and uses the Sahara issue for geopolitical interests that date from the Cold War, claiming that this country in its official communication to the United Nations "presents itself sometimes as 'a concerned party,' other times as an 'important actor,' or as a 'party' in the settlement of the dispute". But Morocco sees that if Algeria lifts its hands from the conflict, it would be solved.

Morocco UN Sahara crisis in its third anniversary

Diplomatic crisis is in its third year between the United Nations and the kingdom of Morocco. The crisis started with the position of UN secretary general envoy Christopher Ross during 2012-2013. A conflict had ended after Ban Ki-moon phone call with Morocco king Mohamed VI, in which UN affirmed its commitment to neutrality on the issue.

Another crisis took place last March, during which the positions and acts of the UN top official during his last visit to Algeria and Tindouf camps, on 5 and 6 March 2016 are unacceptable and intolerable for Morocco. They have the mark of obvious bias. The Moroccan government has accused the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to have committed "excesses" during his visit to Tindouf Camps.

Another crisis had appeared last month, Morocco condemns leak of correspondence between Ban Ki Moon and Mohammed VI. Morocco is headwind against the leak of a letter of Ban Ki-moon addressed to Mohammed VI. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom to the United Nations expressed during a press conference held Thursday in New York, "consternation and incomprehension of Morocco against" the incident. "We received the letter the day before yesterday and twenty-four hours after it was leaked to some stakeholders, which is contrary to the UN Ethics and enrolled countdown diplomatic practice", he regretted.

Moroccan citizens marched against UN secretary general

Over three million people marched in Rabat last March to protest against the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's verbal blunders on the Sahara issue. Participants, who came from all the regions of Morocco, condemned comments delivered by the UN Chief on the Sahara issue and chanted patriotic slogans. Protesters filled the streets of Rabat after political parties, unions and civil society organizations called for a popular march.

Moreover, in another day march More than 180,000 people participated in a spontaneous popular march in the southern city of Laayoune, the big city of the Sahara region, to denounce the verbal blunders of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. The march, organized at the initiative of sheikhs and notables of Sahrawi tribes, politicians, trade unions and civil society actors, started from Sheikh Mohamed Laghdef center towards the headquarters of MINURSO.

Morocco opened to other partners for political significance

Rabat and Moscow strengthened ties. Royal visit to the country was postponed twice in 2015. It was finally held,on the 14th of March 2016. It took a strong political significance in the present context. Since the travel of the Sovereign in October 2002, a strategic partnership was signed. Today this relationship has been strengthened with the addition of the "deep" qualifier. The economic sector is a place known to develop. But it is the policy area that holds the interest.

Morocco has gained more or less Russia neutralization, the King of Morocco is seeking to have the friendship of China, although the latter is already close to the Moroccan point of view. If Beijing is officially aligned with the position of the UN, calling for a political solution to this historical conflict, it understands the wish of Rabat to recover its territorial integrity. On April 29, it was among the friends of Morocco during the vote on the last resolution on Western Sahara at the Security Council.

Morocco king addresses Morocco territorial integrity in GCC summit. The Moroccan Western Sahara continues to hold the heart of Sherifian sovereign, Mohammed VI, who has thus protested against the recent attitude of the Secretary General of the UN on the Sahara question, even to question the neutrality of certain officials of the world Organization. The King of Morocco made the remarks at the first Summit between Morocco and Cooperation Council of the Gulf countries GCC, last April 20 in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Morocco reacted to the Death of Polisario front leader

An official reaction from the Moroccan authorities for the death last month of the head of Polisario, Mohamed Abdelaziz is expressed via the official agency MAP. For Morocco, the death of Mohamed Abdelaziz is "a non-event from a political point of view, and will have no impact on the Moroccan Sahara issue," said an official source to MAP agency."Morocco has taken note of the death of Mohamed Abdelaziz. Any death is regrettable, especially for the family and relatives. The deceased, as the separatist movement to which he belonged are not players on the Sahara issue but they are controlled elsewhere, "added the official source whose name was not called.

Died at the end of May following a long illness, Mohamed Abdelaziz led the Polisario since 1976. The National Council of movement appointed Khatri Addouh pending the election of a new Secretary General within 40 days. Algeria has decided to declare a national mourning for eight days.