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.

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:

London Review of Books: Gaddafi and Western Sahara

December 2011

Jacob Mundy responds to Hugh Roberts’ essay “Who Said Gaddafi Had to Go?” in the London Review of Books.

Review in African Studies Review

December 2011

Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution has been very positively reviewed in the flagship journal of the African Studies Association, African Studies Review. The reviewer, Gregory White, Professor of Government at Smith College, calls it “the definitive book on the Western Sahara.”

The dynamics of repression and resistance : Sahrawi nationalist activism in the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara

October 2011

in Pambazuka News, Issue 551 (Special Issue: “Western Sahara’s struggle for freedom” edited by Konstantina Isidoros), 6 October 2011), (This paper was originally presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the International Studies Association in San Francisco.)

The New York Times’ Western Sahara geography problem

March 2011

Last week, the New York Times ran an article on Arab lobbying in Washington, DC. While the context of that article focused on the current uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the Western Sahara conflict received an indirect and odd mention. What was odd about the NYT article was the way it framed the motive for Morocco’s efforts: ‘Morocco spent more than $3 million on Washington lobbyists, much of it aimed at gaining an edge in its border dispute with Algeria, while Algeria countered by spending $600,000 itself.’

Thanks to Western Sahara, Morocco leads Arab world in number of US lobbying contracts

March 2011

Read the rest at the Sunlight Foundation:

Western Sahara’s 48 Hours of Rage

January 2011

What had begun roughly a month earlier as a non-violent protest camp set up by Sahrawi youths to voice their feelings of economic marginalization under Moroccan occupation quickly transformed that day — November 8, 2010 — into the most violent 48 hours witnessed by Western Sahara since a UN ceasefire took hold in 1991. The protests in Laayoune were far larger and more destructive to property than the Sahrawi intifada of May 2005 or the events in 1999, when Moroccan police forcibly dismantled a similar Sahrawi economic protest camp in Laayoune. One of the many victims of the November 8 violence could be the hope that Sahrawi nationalists and the Moroccan government can share power under an autonomy scheme in Western Sahara.

Read the rest at Middle East Report: