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.”
Stephen Zunes remembers George McGovern, author of the foreword to Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Resolution
His support for international law and self-determination was rooted in his taking part in the war on fascism. In his foreword to my most recent book, which analyzes the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, he noted how that experience helped teach him that the right of self-determination “is one of the most fundamental rights of all” and that “no government should get away with denying that right by invading, occupying and annexing another national and oppressing its people.” He faulted successive administrations of both parties for failing to uphold such fundamental principles of international law.
The Reality of Western Sahara : A rebuttal on accusations concerning the Polisario and Moroccan occupation
Earlier this year, Global Post ran an article by Jordan Paul, executive director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy, a registered foreign agent for the Moroccan government, which funds, supervises, and coordinates the group’s activities. The article contained a series of demonstrably false claims attempting to rationalize for Morocco’s illegal occupation of its southern neighbor, the country of Western Sahara.
The Palestinian solidarity struggle would be considerably strengthened if, instead of calling for divestment specifically from companies supporting the Israeli occupation, the call was for divestment from companies supporting all foreign belligerent occupations. Morocco is a predominantly Arab Muslim country. By including Western Sahara along with Palestine, the movement would avoid the accusation that it is unfairly singling out Israel. After all, it would be targeting all illegal occupations, not just one.
Obama’s claim that the United States “will not tolerate aggression across borders” continues to be somewhat selective given ongoing US support for the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and support for Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Book chapter in International Law and the Question of Western Sahara edited by in Karin Arts and Pedro Pinto Leite (International Platform of Jurists 2007).
Recent social, economic and political changes in the Western Saharan refugee camps in southwest Algeria have import not only for the project of Western Saharan nationalism, but also for the ongoing peace process. These are examined through a background to the Western Sahara conflict, and an appraisal of the camps’ internal processes of elite politics, self-management and recent post-war socio-economic change.
in The Journal of Modern African Studies (2007), 45(2): 275-297
Cambridge University Press
Imagine an Arab Muslim nation, most of whose people have lived in the squalor of refugee camps for decades in exile from their homeland. Most of the remaining population suffers under foreign military occupation, with a smaller number living as a minority within the legally-recognized territory of the occupier. The occupying power is in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, has illegally brought in tens of thousands of settlers into the occupied territory, routinely violates international standards of human rights, has built a heavily-fortified separation barrier deep inside the occupied territory, and continues to defy a landmark decision of the International Court of Justice. Furthermore, and despite all this, the occupying power is considered to be a close ally of the United States and receives substantial American military, economic, and diplomatic support to maintain its occupation and colonization of the territory. This certainly describes the situation regarding Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including greater East Jerusalem) and Syria’s Golan region, as well as its quasi-occupation of the Gaza Strip. But it also describes the thirty-year occupation of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco.