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: http://www.merip.org/mer/mer257/western-saharas-48-hours-rage

US leadership, not partisanship, desperately needed for peace in Western Sahara

November 2010

Recently we made the case for a more active US role in the Western Sahara peace process, prompting a constructive response from former US diplomats Ambassador Edward Gabriel and Mr Robert Holley, who now work as lobbyists for the Kingdom of Morocco. In their posting, Gabriel and Holley agree that a strong US role is needed but they claim that we are proposing a solution based on a referendum with independence as an option. Nowhere in our recent article or even the previous one posted in the Middle East Channel did we suggest such a thing.

U.S. Middle East talks – a model for Western Sahara?

October 2010

Coauthored with Anna Theofilopoulou

The recent decision by the Obama administration to invite Israel and the Palestinian Authority to engage in serious negotiations over the Middle East conflict should be instructive for those interested in resolving one that seems almost as intractable — the Western Sahara dispute. Key to this new effort in the Middle East conflict is (1) the U.S. is sponsoring and supporting the talks; (2) the U.S. has demanded that the two negotiate seriously, tackle the difficult subjects that have trounced previous attempts for resolution; and (3) the U.S. has given the two sides a one-year deadline. Though the fate of the Israel-Palestinian talks still hangs on a knife’s edge, a similar attitude on the part of United States towards the Western Sahara dispute might pave the way to a durable solution to one of Africa’s oldest conflicts.

Book review: Historical Dictionary of Western Sahara, Third Edition by Anthony Pazzanita

September 2010

in Journal of North African Studies 15/3 (2010): 417-421.

Why the UN won’t solve Western Sahara (until it becomes a crisis)

August 2010

Co-authored with Anna Theofilopoulou.

The Secretariat under Ban Ki-moon does not seem to recognize, or is unwilling to admit, the tough choices facing the UN venture in Western Sahara. As early as December 1995, Boutros Ghali admitted to the Council that the differences between the sides were irreconcilable and surprised everybody by admitting that he never believed that the referendum would happen. He understood that there were really only three options on the table: force a solution on the parties, withdraw or keep pressing for negotiations. Consistently, the Security Council chose number three. For the Obama administration, these choices remain fundamentally the same and dismal in their prospects.

Read the Original:

in French
Pourquoi l’ONU ne résoudra pas le Sahara occidental (jusqu’à ce que cela devienne une crise)
Translation by Amis du Peuple du Sahara Occidental, France

in Spanish
Por qué no resolverá la ONU el problema del Sáhara (hasta que se convierta en una crisis abierta)
translation by Javier Villate

Cómo los EE. UU. y Marruecos se apoderaron del Sáhara Español

August 2010

En noviembre pasado [2006] se cumplieron 30 años de la crisis del Sáhara, desencadena cuando Marruecos presionó con éxito a Madrid, en el otoño de 1975, para expulsarlo de su colonia en el desierto. A pesar de los desmentidos de Estados Unidos, documentos secretos desclasificados revelan que el éxito del rey Hassan II fue posible gracias a la intervención de EE.UU.

Translation by Luis Portillo.

Original in English: http://mondediplo.com/2006/01/12asahara

Algeria and the Western Sahara Dispute

May 2010

Since the outbreak of hostilities between Morocco and the Western Saharan nationalists of the Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro (Polisario) in late 1975, Algeria has been one of the most important actors in that conflict. While Algeria maintains no territorial claim on Western Sahara, it has consistently supported Polisario’s drive for self-determination diplomatically, militarily, financially and morally. With only slight aberrations in its Western Sahara policy, Algeria’s position in the Western Sahara conflict, as Polisario’s most important backer, will likely hold the same general shape it has for over thirty years. There is no doubt, then, that understanding Algeria’s role in the Western Sahara conflict is necessary for a complete historical appreciation of this neglected international issue and is also key to unlocking the peace process, which has stagnated over the last ten years.

in Maghreb Center Journal, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2010: 14p.

Legal analysis of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara

April 2010

in Multilateralism and International Law with Western Sahara as a Case Study, Neville Botha, Michèle Olivier and Delarey van Tonder (eds), University of South Africa Press, 2010: 127-138.

Letter to Middle East Quarterly regarding Samuel Spector’s “Western Sahara and the Self-Determination Debate”

November 2009

To the editor: The small group of scholars (and even smaller group of policy makers) interested in Western Sahara always appreciate new contributions to the discourse. However, they should at least be based in fact. Samuel J Spector’s article ‘Western Sahara and the Self-Determination Debate’ (Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2009, pp. 33-43) unfortunately fails this preliminary test.

Unlocking the Conflict in Western Sahara

April 2009

At the end of April, the UN Security Council will have the opportunity to make the right choice or the safe choice when it renews the authorization for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The right choice would be to give the new UN envoy a mandate for peace. To do this, the Security Council would have to secure the commitment of both sides of the conflict, Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front, to power-sharing and self-determination. The safe choice, meanwhile, would be to continue under the weak mandate that contributed to the failure of the previous UN envoy.

Published by Foreign Policy In Focus.