Although the war in the Western Sahara recently entered its 16th year, until now very few scholarly works have dealt with the regional and international dimensions of the conflict. In particular, no significant works have been published over the past three years, even though there have been a number of key developments during this period, especially the increasingly important involvement of the UN. This book constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of the role of outside powers in the war, of the efforts of the Maghrebi states to overcome regional conflicts, and of the role of the UN in attempts to resolve the conflict.
Western Sahara was a former Spanish colony until 1975, when Spain withdrew its forces; and partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania. Mauritania renounced its claim in 1979; Morocco has occupied the region since 1976. There is a government-in-exile calling itself the Saharan Democratic Arab Republic.
The author of this book served in a number of peacekeeping operations in Western Sahara, Darfur andAfganisthan, therefore, has gathered invaluable practical experience about such missions. As UN military staff, part of MINURSO in 2003-2004, János besenyő started to narrowly deal with the historyof Western Sahara, the traditions and daily practices of the inhabitants of the area, the activities of the peacekeeping force of the world organisation, in particular with the root-causes of the Saharan conflict and their possible solution. In this book János Besenyő introduces the readers the causes and escalation of the conflict in Western Sahara, the actors and the opposing parties together with their motivations, thus, he fills in a gap connected with less-known part and problem of our ever globalising world.
As the Spanish were preparing to leave colonized Western Sahara in 1975, Morocco invaded, sparking a war with the Western Saharan Polisario Front. About 70% of Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco, which stations up to 140,000 soldiers in the territory, primarily along a 1700 kilometre long sand berm that is protected by one of the world’s largest fields of landmines. In 1991, Morocco and the Polisario Front agreed to a truce ahead of a referendum on Western Sahara’s future. However, Morocco has since refused to allow the referendum to take place, and has begun the extensive exploitation of Western Sahara’s non-renewable natural resources. This has both highlighted the plight of the Saharawi people who live in refugee camps in Algeria and in occupied Western Sahara, and pushed the Polisario Front back to a position where it is openly canvassing for a return to war. This book was originally published as a special issue of Global Change, Peace and Security.
The ongoing conflict in Western Sahara is one of the more intractable legacies of European colonization in North Africa. Following the withdrawal of Spain, this territorial dispute escalated in 1975 into a war of independence between the Sahrawi people of the Polisario Front, who were backed by Algeria, and the states of Mauritania and Morocco. In 1976, the Polisario Front established the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which was not admitted in the UN but won recognition by a few states. After multiple peace efforts, the conflict reemerged in 2005 as the “independence Intifada.” Today, the Polisario Front controls about 20% of Western Sahara. At the heart of the conflict lie geopolitical interests and incompatible claims aggravated by the use of military force and decades of mostly unproductive diplomatic maneuvers by international bodies and regional or foreign powers. This thorough, impartial survey brings together some of the best experts on the Sahara question to provide a broad-based analysis of the problem, from a range of perspectives. Featuring new research, the chapters examine the roots of the conflict, its dynamics, and potential solutions. This groundbreaking text also addresses questions of law, human rights, natural resources from an analytical point of view. Contributed by scholars from North Africa, Europe, and the U.S., it is an essential contribution to the literature of Middle East and African studies.
The Western Sahara conflict has proven to be one of the most protracted and intractable struggles facing the international community. Pitting local nationalist determination against Moroccan territorial ambitions, the dispute is further complicated by regional tensions with Algeria and the geo-strategic concerns of major global players, including the United States, France, and the territory’s former colonial ruler, Spain. Since the early 1990s, the UN Security Council has failed to find a formula that will delicately balance these interests against Western Sahara’s long-denied right to a self-determination referendum as one of the last UN-recognized colonies. The widely-lauded first edition was the first book-length treatment of the issue in the previous two decades. Zunes and Mundy examined the origins, evolution, and resilience of the Western Sahara conflict, deploying a diverse array of sources and firsthand knowledge of the region gained from multiple research visits. Shifting geographical frames—local, regional, and international—provided for a robust analysis of the stakes involved. With the renewal of the armed conflict, continued diplomatic stalemate, growing waves of nonviolent resistance in the occupied territory, and the recent U.S. recognition of Morocco’s annexation, this new revised and expanded paperback edition brings us up-to-date on a long-forgotten conflict that is finally capturing the world’s attention.
This book offers the first comprehensive analysis of MINURSO (the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), focused on its activities, composition, purpose, and operational future in Western Sahara, the world’s last colony. The book’s focus is broad, examining MINURSO from key historical, legal, military and political angles whilst assessing the future of UN peacekeeping missions in the Western Sahara. Supported by a diverse, international mix of perspectives and professions—including academics, lawyers, soldiers, and humanitarian aid workers—an in-depth view of MINURSO is provided, rooted in practical Western Saharan field experience. The authors reveal the complexities of the region and of the mission locally, but also analyze MINURSO through a global lens, focusing on relations with the United States, China, Russia, France, and African states. This approach emphasizes the importance of the region as a site of international struggle while remaining conscious of local contexts. A landmark contribution to peacekeeping studies, the book is vital reading for practitioners and academics focused on the Western Saharan conflict and the MENA region, but will also be of interest to those engaged in international relations, international law, and security studies.
The Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa and the only Spanish-speaking territory in the Arab World. When in 1975 the agonising Francoist Spain abandoned hastily its colony, Morocco and Mauritania occupied the territory, despite the protest of the UN and the resistance of a nascent Saharawi liberation movement, the Frente Polisario. During the first months, the conflict displaced thousands of Saharawis to the neighbouring Algerian region of Tindouf, where almost 200,000 Saharawis still live today in four large refugee camps. But these camps are more than refugee settlements. They became the centre of a state founded by the Saharawi nationalists: the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, now recognised by over 60 states worldwide and full member of the African Union. The camps provided the opportunity to develop a process of nation-building and identity construction based on the principles of the revolutionary nationalism of the 1970s. This book explores the dynamic process of construction of the new Saharawi identity, culture and society developed in the refugee camps over the three last decades of conflict and analyses the complex articulation of elements from the Hispanic, Arab and African worlds that shapes the contours of the Saharawi Refugee Nation.
This book explores the traces of the passage of time on the protracted and intractable conflict of Western Sahara. The authors offer a multilevel analysis of recent developments from the global to the local scenes, including the collapse of the architecture of the UN-led conflict resolution process, the advent of the War on Terror to the the Sahara-Sahel area and the impact of the ‘Arab Spring’ and growing regional security instability. Special attention is devoted to changes in the Western Sahara territory annexed by Morocco and the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. Morocco has adapted its governance and public policies to profound socio-demographic transformations in the territory under its control and has attempted to obtain international recognition for this annexation by proposing an Autonomy Plan. The Polisario Front and Sahrawi nationalists have shifted their strategy and pushed the centre of gravity of the conflict back inwards by focusing on pro-independence activism inside the disputed territory.