As Jacob Mundy, an assistant professor at Colgate University and an expert on the conflict pointed out, Morocco has positioned itself as a key ally of Saudi Arabia and the West in North Africa, sharing intelligence with the United States and even playing host to at least one of the CIA’s controversial black sites. This brings the US closely into line with France, already staunchly on Morocco’s in the dispute. “Anytime Morocco is feeling the pressure on Western Sahara, they probably find ways of making themselves very useful to the United States,” Mundy explained.
Inscrit depuis 1966 sur la liste des territoires non autonomes — et donc éligible à l’application de la résolution 1514 de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU portant déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et peuples coloniaux —, le Sahara occidental est la dernière colonie en Afrique, occupé depuis 1975 par le Maroc qui est soutenu par la France. Jacob Mundy, enseignant à l’université Colgate de New York, explique les raisons des récentes attaques dirigées par le Maroc contre le secrétaire général de l’ONU.
For the secretary-general, these tensions appear to have helped fuel continued frustration towards Morocco and the visit may have been an attempt to show Western Sahara that the international body has not forgotten about the issue, according to Jacob Mundy, a political science professor and North Africa expert at Colgate University. As Mundy noted, the visit was unusual in the fact that Ban only met with one side. “It’s kind of unprecedented, just on its face, only going to meet with one side of the conflict,” he said. “The secretariat has never visibly shown this much frustration before and if it was… it never would have made its frustration public.”
Au grand dam des populations sahraouies représentées par le Front Polisario dès 1973, le Sahara occidental, ancienne colonie espagnole, est colonisé en 1975 par le Maroc. Hassan II y envoie, le 6 novembre, des Marocains pour l’envahir, avant de lancer une offensive armée contre les Sahraouis. L’attaque marocaine est même appuyée par des bombardements massifs. Le peuple sahraoui lutte depuis plus de 40 ans pour son droit à l’autodétermination. Dans les territoires sahraouis occupés par le Maroc, la vie des Sahraouis est marquée par la répression et le harcèlement constants. Le Sahara occidental est aujourd’hui la dernière colonie d’Afrique. Spécialiste des conflits au Maghreb, Jacob Mundy de l’université Colgate (New York) explique le stratagème mis en place par le roi Hassan II pour accaparer ce territoire.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Article in Arab Studies Quarterly, Vol. 17; No. 3 (Summer 1995)