On recent Moroccan-Algerian tensions over Western Sahara

November 2013

A man is currently in police custody in Morocco’s commercial capital, Casablanca, after tearing down the Algerian flag from its embassy in the city. The man was protesting against comments made on behalf of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in relation to Western Sahara. Bouteflika reportedly said that Morocco had committed human rights violations against the people of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Morocco illegally occupied Western Sahara in 1975. It is the largest disputed land mass in the world. RFI spoke to expert Jacob Mundy on Morocco’s reaction to withdrawing its ambassador.

Daily Beast article quotes Jacob Mundy

October 2013

With modern communication tools available to the refugees, “there is no mystery anymore about what goes on in the camps, and what goes on in the disputed territory,” said Jacob Mundy, an assistant professor at Colgate University and co-author of Western Sahara: War Nationalism & Conflict Irresolution. “The fact that so many people choose to stay in the camps probably speaks more to Morocco’s failure to win the hearts and minds of the Sahrawi people.”

Guardian Weekly: Role of women in Western Sahara conflict

July 2013

As dusk enveloped the salmon-pink houses of Laayoune, the brightly coloured robes of women stood out in a mass of protesters in the centre of the capital of Western Sahara chanting for independence from Morocco. While other African colonies threw off occupiers one by one, this desert expanse on the continent’s north-western coast remains a disputed territory controlled primarily by next-door Morocco and locked in a nearly 40–year struggle for the right to choose its fate. Unusually for a Muslim society, women play a prominent role in Western Sahara’s independence movement.

Washington Post article and video discusses role of women, political impasse in Western Sahara

July 2013

While other colonies in Africa threw off occupiers one by one, this rocky desert expanse on the continent’s northwestern coast remains a disputed territory controlled primarily by next-door Morocco and locked in a nearly 40-year-old forgotten struggle for the right to choose its fate. And in a Muslim-majority region where women are often marginalized from politics, women have taken an unusually prominent role in Western Sahara’s independence movement.

Jacob Mundy quoted in USA Today piece on Western Sahara

June 2013

“Morocco is a very close ally of France and the United States; Paris and Washington don’t want to jeopardize their excellent security and economic cooperation with Rabat, which could be the cost of forcing peace in Western Sahara,” says Jacob Mundy, assistant professor at Colgate University and author of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution. “It’s not going to be resolved until there is a crisis. Something major has to happen to shake things up.”

Interview with Jacob Mundy in “El Watan,” leading Algerian francophone daily

May 2013

Le peuple sahraoui a célébré, hier, le 40e anniversaire du déclenchement de sa lutte armée contre l’occupation marocaine, après avoir commémoré, le 10 mai courant, la création du Front Polisario (10 mai 1973). Spécialiste du conflit, Jacob Mundy, actuellement professeur à Colgate University (New York), décrypte pour nous les enjeux de la dernière réunion du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU consacrée au dossier sahraoui. Celui-ci (le Conseil de sécurité) a, rappelle-t-on, adopté le 25 avril dernier la résolution 2099 dans laquelle il a réitéré son appel à «une solution politique juste et durable acceptée par les deux parties et qui garantit le droit du peuple sahraoui à l’autodétermination».

Moroccan Settlers in Western Sahara: Colonists or Fifth Column?

June 2012

in The Arab World Geographer 15(2), Summer 2012: 95-126

Since assuming control of the former Spanish Sahara in 1976, Morocco has encouraged between 200 000 and 300 000 of its citizens to settle there. As a result of this settlement campaign, combined with the mass exodus of nearly half of the indigenous Sahrawi population in the immediate aftermath of Rabat’s 1975 invasion, Moroccan settlers now constitute the majority population in occupied Western Sahara. Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara continually posts some of the highest voter turnouts in Moroccan elections; however, Rabat rejected a 2003 UN peace proposal that would have allowed both Moroccan settlers and native Western Saharans to vote for independence or formal union with Morocco in a final status referendum. The Western Saharan independence movement’s acceptance of this proposal and, more importantly, Morocco’s rejection of it, despite the clear demographic hegemony of Moroccan settlers in the territory, has led observers to speculate as to the rationale that drove Morocco to reject the UN plan. This article argues that a possible factor—largely unknown elsewhere, but likely very well understood by Moroccan authorities—is the ethnic composition of the settler population, which may be predominantly Sahrawi. To establish this as a tenable hypothesis, the author first backgrounds the Western Sahara conflict and the basic parameters of its ethno-political geography, then sketches the broad patterns of Moroccan settlement in occupied Western Sahara and pays closer attention to the ethnic aspects of Rabat’s settlement drive. Finally, the article examines the role of Moroccan settlers in the Western Sahara peace process during the 1990s and after, leading up to Morocco’s rejection of the 2003 UN plan.

The Western Sahara Peace Process: Tragedy or Farce?

May 2012

At the end of every April, a small drama plays out in the UN Security Council. This is when the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO, its French acronym) comes up for its annual renewal. Western Sahara — Africa’s last colony according to the United Nations — is largely ignored by the Security Council the other eleven months of the year. The Secretary-General has a Person Envoy working on the case, former US Ambassador Christopher Ross, one of the great Arabophone diplomats of his age. The mandate given to Ambassador Ross, to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution that will afford Western Sahara its long denied right to self-determination, is a farce and everyone knows it.

Shameless self-promotion: Jacob Mundy quoted in BBC article on Sahrawi resistance in occupied Western Sahara

December 2011

“Compared with the desperate efforts to give South Sudan independence, the French and the US are very comfortable [with the status quo in Western Sahara],” says Jacob Mundy, a Western Sahara expert and assistant professor at Colgate University in the US. He says that for there to be a solution, “there would have to be a significant change in the basic dynamics of the conflict… whether it was the collapse of the Moroccan regime, the collapse of the Algerian regime or the collapse of the Polisario”.

Read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16186928

London Review of Books: Libya, Western Sahara, Hugh Roberts & Hallucinations

December 2011

Hugh Roberts’ lengthy examination of Gaddafi and the NATO intervention that helped end his rule in the London Review of Books omits any reference to the Western Sahara conflict. This seemed odd to me for three reasons.