Following the French military intervention in Mali earlier this year in January, and the hostage crisis in Algeria that soon followed, major world powers briefly oriented their regional focus towards the Maghreb and Sahel regions. In the midst of the escalating conflict in Mali, pundits pointed to Morocco’s geopolitical position as an ally of France and the United States for a source of stability in the Maghreb and its neighboring regions.
Conveniently omitted from this argument is Morocco’s role in one of Africa’s longest lasting territorial disputes: that of the Western Sahara. Additionally, in light of the United Nations Security Council vote on the renewal of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), there has been a revival of the debate on the Western Sahara.
Interesting to go past discussions of the sovereignty referendum, and onto the less-discussed issues:
- how Morocco uses “war on terror” narrative to fund oppression of the Western Sahara;
- how the longest-running colonial conflict is basically unchallenged by other Arab countries;
- how the Polisario Front is starting to be viewed like the Palestinian Authority (as benefiters from the occupation rather than warriors for its end)