Moroccan Sahara Conflict: Why Disputed Territory Should Remain With Morocco

Before the advent of colonization, Morocco was fully sovereign, independent, and united. The Sahara was under Moroccan sovereignty meaning that during that era there was no entity in the Sahara that was separate from Morocco.

There is not a single document or item in existence which disproves this historical reality. This fact is all the more evident when one considers that it was the populations of the Sahara which actually founded the Almoravid dynasty, the pre-cursorer to the modern Moroccan state, back in antiquity.

Indeed, the existing documents prove that each time a foreign power attempted to penetrate the Sahara or when some national citizens of these powers were taken into captivity, it was the sultan of Morocco who actually settled the matter.

These documents confirm the sovereignty that Morocco has always exercised over its Saharan provinces.

When the 1884 Berlin conference convened to lay some ground rules for the colonial partitioning of the African continent, Morocco was awarded to France and Spain. When the partition materialized during the signing of the Protectorate in 1912, Morocco lost its independence and sovereignty. This, of course, ushered in an era of total colonization.

When Morocco received its independence in 1956, the decolonization procedure with France and Spain took a different process.

From France, Morocco recovered all territories which were under the Protectorate in 1956. The process was different with Spain since the territories under its protectorate were scattered between the north, the center, and the south. Recovery was achieved gradually: the north in 1956, Tangier in April 1956, Tan Tan and Tarfaya in 1958, Sidi Ifni in 1969 in the Sahara in 1975. The latter was recovered after the Green March, which constituted a symbiosis between the Alaouite throne, the Sahrawi populations, and all Moroccan people.

The Sahara issue favors the Algeria-backed polisario separatists over Morocco as the overall soverigns. The dispute broke out in 1976 when the Polisario separatists, which proclaimed the so-called Sahraoui republic on the Algerian territory, laid claims to this former Spanish colony, which Morocco had retrieved a year before under the Madrid Accord with Mauritania and Spain.

With Morocco having recovered is southern provinces, the Polisario found nothing better to do than to park the Sahraoui population in camps set up on Algerian territory, called refugee camps or sometimes referred to under fictitious names such and the camps of Laayoune, Smara, ’Aouserd, or Dakhla.

The existence of the Polisario is connected to the very existence of these camps.  But this policy can lead nowhere other than to simply drifting away. The very existence of these camps on a hostile territory and in subhuman conditions over such a long period is a flagrant infringement of human rights.

The Polisario has constantly and deliberately violated the most elementary human rights for over 30 years. For more than 25 years it has held Moroccan prisoners separated from their families and relatives in conditions of unbearable suffering.

The Polisario is a political and military movement that has instituted a system similar to that which existed in ex-totalitarian countries with single party systems, sole institutions and structures, and sole bureaucracies with everything wrapped up in one-track thinking.

It began armed control over the population using food aid as a tool for permanent blackmail and control of people in the camps by strict physical, psychological and moral domination akin to political commissaries for each activity and service.

The front instituted methods of denunciation as a method of control and permanent enlistment, or more particularly, brainwashing of both the young and adults, as well as the falsification of history and the manipulation of events and as a general rule teaching hate.

The Polisario is the product of another era prior the collapse of the totalitarian system when the world began to see change starting 1991.  But it has remained apart from such changes: no free elections, no democracy, no plurality, no freedom of expression, no free opinions, and no civil society. It totally clamped down on everything and partitioned off structures to make them seemingly last forever. All the political or politico-military type movements similar to the Polisario have disappeared from the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Either they have changed names or disintegrated by themselves, or they have created new structures corresponding to the new globalized, free and democratic world.

The Polisario, which considers itself independent, a so-called Democratic Sahraoui Arab Republic (RASD), while referring to the land liberated by Morocco in the Western Sahara as occupied territories. The so-called RASD is in flagrant contradiction with the request by the Polisaro for a referendum on self-determination.

Today, history offers a golden opportunity for the Polisario to accept the only solution possible, indeed the best one, political autonomy under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco.

If it has the slightest bit of feeling or respect for the Sahraouis, it should readily seize this historic opportunity.

The Polisario has to get out of the trap it finds itself in and must not serve the interests of anyone else or be used as a thorn in the sides of the Kingdom of Morocco to obtain political hegemony.