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.
The Western Sahara conflict is fast approaching its 40th anniversary with no end in sight. A web of geopolitical interests keeps the conflict in a permanent state of limbo. At the heart of this web is the U.N. Security Council, which has managed the conflict since the late 1980s. The council has been historically reticent to take dramatic action to resolve the dispute and remains so today. Though there has been “peace” in Western Sahara since 1991 when a cease-fire came into effect, all efforts to reconcile Morocco’s claim of sovereignty against the local population’s right to self-determination have failed. The status quo thus seems indefinitely sustainable. Unless the conflict takes a sudden turn for the worse, it is unlikely that the international community will make the tough choices necessary to achieve a lasting solution. Therein lies the paradox of the Western Sahara peace process: The peace process now exists to contain the conflict, but only a crisis will save Western Sahara.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
Over the years, as part of my academic research, I have spent many hours at the National Archives poring over diplomatic cables of the kind recently released by WikiLeaks. The only difference is that rather than being released after a 30+ year waiting period — when the principals involved are presumably dead or in retirement and the countries in question have very different governments in power — the WikiLeaks are a lot more recent, more relevant and, in some cases, more embarrassing as a result.
Sahrawis have engaged in protests, strikes, cultural celebrations, and other forms of civil resistance focused on such issues as educational policy, human rights, the release of political prisoners, and the right to self-determination. They have also raised the cost of occupation for the Moroccan government and increased the visibility of the Sahrawi cause.
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.