Western Sahara on richardknight.com
Sahara is Africa’s last colony. Formerly
a colony of Spain, the World Court has ruled that the people of Western Sahara
have the right to self-determination.
This right has been denied by Morocco, which occupies much of the
Western Sahara which it is seeking to annex as part of “Greater Morocco.” The struggle is led by the Polisario Front,
which was formed in 1973 to fight Spanish colonialism. The U.S. government is siding with Morocco.
Kerr-McGee in occupied Western
Sahara – Oil Blocking Path to Freedom? Print this Washington Office on Africa flier
and distribute it in your community.
Western Sahara Research Watch
Press Release: Shareholders focus of campaign to end Kerr-McGee’s involvement
in Occupied Western Sahara, February 28, 2005
Alert: Get you
Congressional representatives to endorse a sign on letter to President Bush in
support of self-determination for Western Sahara, May 10, 2002.
This alert is out of date. But
you can still send a letter to Bush supporting the people of Western Sahara and
opposing U.S. efforts to undermine the right to self-determination.
Administration Seeks to Deny Self-Determination to the people of Western Sahara,
added May 8 2002
Corporation in Western Sahara, added April 2002
below for more links.
Western Sahara – An Overview
over twenty-five years, led by the Polisario Front, the people of Western Sahara have been struggling for
self-determination and independence. Morocco wants to annex Western Sahara and Polisario is seeking
independence. A UN settlement plan,
based on a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would exercise their right
to self-determination by choosing between independence and integration in Morocco, is deadlocked. Moroccan stalling and attempting to pad the
Sahara was a colony of Spain. In 1975 the International Court of Justice
ruled that the people of Western Sahara were entitled to
self-determination including independence.
That same year a UN mission determined that the people of Western Sahara were
"categorically" for independence and opposed to the territorial
claims on Morocco and Mauritania. But when Spain pulled out in 1976 it
divided the territory between Morocco and Mauritania. Polisario, formed in 1973 to oppose Spanish
colonialism, rejected this action and declared the Saharawi Arab Democratic
Republic (SADR). Much of the population of Western Sahara fled the territory to
Polisario run refugee camps in Algeria.
which had led an armed struggle Spain, turned its military
efforts against Morocco and Mauritania. In July1978 there was a coup in Mauritania. Two days later Polisario declared a
unilateral cease-fire with Mauritania. In 1979 Mauritania formally abandoned its
claim to Western Sahara. Morocco immediately asserted a
claim for the portion of Western Sahara previously claimed by Mauritania.
United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1980 stated clearly that the
issue of Western Sahara is one of self-determination. The resolution "Reaffirms the
inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and
independence" and expresses "deep concern… at the aggravation of the
situation prevailing in Western Sahara because of the continued
occupation of that Territory by Morocco."
UN Settlement Plan
UN negotiated a settlement plan and in 1991 a cease-fire between Morocco and Polisario went into
effect. A referendum was to be held the
following year giving the people of Western Sahara a choice between
independence and integration into Morocco. A United Nations Mission for the Referendum
in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was formed and a UN Secretary-General's Special
Representative appointed. But the
referendum has never been held.
Morocco's long time ruler, King
Hassan II, died in July 1999. Many hoped
that his successor, King Muhammad VI, would be able to break with past policy
and allow the referendum to take place.
King Muhammad did remove some long time officials who had been key in
implementing Morocco's attempt to annex Western Sahara. Some process was made in negotiations.
the implementation of the referendum remains deadlocked. The key question is who will get to vote in
the referendum. There has been much
negotiation on the issue. Morocco has sought to get many of
its citizens from its southern provinces declared eligible. Eventually a series of requirements were
agreed to, based on the Spanish census taken in 1974.
January 2000 MINURSO published a list of 86,381 eligible voters. In preparing the list MINURSO interviewed
some 198,000 applicants presented by Morocco and Polisario. The results were disastrous for Morocco. It was widely viewed that if the referendum
were held based on that list, the choice for independence would win. MINURSO has received some 131,038 appeals,
most on behalf of Moroccan voter applicants.
The UN has estimated it could take two years to process these appeals
if, as Morocco is demanding, each case is
heard individually. (For a detailed discussion see Saharan Stasis: Status
and Prospects in the Western Sahara by Charles Dunbar, The Middle East
Journal, Volume 54, Number 4, Autumn 2000.)
February 2001 the UN Security Council extended the existence of MINURSO for
another two months. Former U.S.
Secretary of State James Baker, currently UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's
Special Representative, will presumably attempt some negotiations. However, it seems unlike, absent significant
international pressure on Morocco, that much progress toward implementing the
referendum will be achieve in that two month period. Western Sahara is not seen as an important
issue by the United States or any other permanent
member of the UN Security Council.
Rather, the U.S. had a long relationship
with Morocco under King Hassan. King Hassan was long seen as an Arab ally on
East. The U.S. wants to keep a close
relationship with King Muhammad.
U.S. government should not accept Morocco efforts to gerrymander the
results of the referendum by padding the voter roll. It should pressure Morocco to accept the UN voter role
and allow the referendum to proceed.
Morocco continues to delay. No date for a referendum has been set and the
people of Western Sahara are continuing to be denied the right to
self-determination. Polisario's struggle
information and background documents are available at www.arso.org.
Also, the Western Sahara and Morocco sections of www.allafrica.com have current
information. Subscribe to the Norwegian
Support Committee for Western Sahara list serve and you will receive two or
more e-mails a day.
Activities of the American Committee on Africa
Paper on Polisario and the Western Sahara Struggle that was presented
to the Executive Board of the American Committee on Africa on December 1977. The ACOA Board adopted the recommendations in
the report that included: 1) recognizing Polisario as the legitimate
representative of the Saharan people 2) support for U.S. recognition of the
Democratic Arab Saharan Republic 3) an end to U.S. military assistance to Morocco and Mauritania and 4) an end to U.S. involvement n the
exploitation of Saharan nation resources.
early 1979 I visited Algeria and Western Sahara. On my return I wrote Report
on a Visit to the Democratic Arab Saharawi Republic and Algeria.
Sahara I took photos of weapons that were supplied to Morocco by the U.S. The U.S. government claimed that the
weapons were supplied under a bilateral agreement that prohibited their use
outside of Morocco and, since the U.S. did not recognize Western Sahara as part of Morocco, their use in Western Sahara was prohibited. Morocco's interpretation of the
bilateral agreement was different, since it viewed Western Sahara as part of Morocco. In any case, the U.S. never seems to have applied
any pressure on Morocco not to use U.S. supplied weapons to Morocco but instead increased U.S. military aid.
my trip I also met Tony Hodges, who subsequently wrote Western Sahara:
The Roots of a Desert War (Lawrence Hill & Company, 1983). He also authored the Historical
Dictionary of Western Sahara (Scarecrow Press, 1982).
Houser, then Executive Director of ACOA, visited Western Sahara a few months after me. Together we went to testify before Congress
on the situation in Western Sahara and to oppose the sale to Morocco of $2.4 million of spare
parts for F-5 and C-130 aircraft and $3 million of ammunition for the F-5s
including bombs and rockets. We presented Representative Stephen Solarz, then
chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, copies of my photos documenting the use of U.S. supplied weapons by Morocco in Western Sahara. (See Statement on Western Sahara by
George M. Houser before the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on Foreign
Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, July 23, 1979.)
1978 and 1979 ACOA worked to oppose the sale of $100 million worth of arms to Morocco. This was the subject of a series of Letters to the
Editor that I wrote that appeared in the New York Times and the Washington
1980 we learned of the use by Morocco of South African manufactured arms. This was especially shocking since at that
time any unnecessary contact with the apartheid regime was an anathema in Africa. ACOA published a Memorandum on
Moroccan Use of South African Manufactured Arms.
December 1981 I authored The Reagan
Administration and the Struggle for Self-Determination in Western Sahara.
Knight, February 2001
March 30, 2002
links to Western Sahara specific web sites see Links on
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