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.

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

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.

The Potomac-SAIS report on North Africa: Paid Analysis, Partisan Fear Mongering, Bad Policy

April 2009

At the end of March, a relatively obscure Washington, D.C., think tank called the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies published a report — in conjunction with the conflict management program of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University — arguing largely in support of Morocco’s 2007 autonomy proposal to solve the Western Sahara dispute. Framed in terms of US policy towards North Africa (‘Why the Maghreb Matters’), the report is a thinly veiled effort to provide academic and political legitimacy to a one-sided view of the Western Sahara issue. It precipitated a detailed response from the Western Saharan Union of Writers and Journalists.

Participatory Democracy in the Western Sahara: A Study of Polisario Self-Governance

June 1988

Article in Scandinavian Journal of Development Alternatives Vol. 7; Nos. 2-3 (June-September 1988).

Nationalism and Non-Alignment: The Non-Ideology of the Polisario

February 1988

Article in Africa Today Vol. 34; No. 3 (February 10, 1988).

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