The Western Sahara and its Dissident Front

10 May 1973

Foundation and drawing up of the constitution of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Seguiet el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario), which called for the re-integration of the Sahara into the Kingdom of Morocco by means of armed force.  At the outset, the Polisario did not pursue a separatist policy – this only developed after its second congress which was held in August 1974 under the auspices of Algeria and Libya.

May 1973 marked the beginning of the Polisario’s guerrilla operations.

Algeria, although originally suspicious of the movement, took the organisation under its wings after the Polisario’s Second Congress in Alger in August 1974.  Under Algerian patronage, this dissident unit rejected its former beliefs and espoused Alger’s desire to see a separatist, “independent” state on its borders.  With additional Libyan support for the “balkanisation” of African nations which gained independence from colonial powers, the Polisario has pursued the agenda of their masters.  Substantial military and financial aid is provided by the Republic of Algeria to the dissident, which seems to be supplemented by the misappropriation of international humanitarian aid intended for Sahrawi Refugees confined to appalling conditions in camps in Tindouf in south-west Algeria.

January 1976

Spanish departure from the Sahara.  Border incursions and attacks across the Moroccan-Algerian frontier carried out by Algeria and the dissident front, culminating in the Battle of Amgala, led to Morocco beginning the construction of five walls of sand to protect its Sahrawi territory.  This barrier, built between 1980 and 1987 on Moroccan territory well within the Kingdom of Morocco, covers a distance of 2,300 km and provides an additional boundary between Algeria and Mauritania and extends to the Atlantic Ocean.

27 February 1976

Declaration of the “Democratic Saharwi Arab Republic” with overt Algerian support and encouragement.  This “state” has never recognised by the United Nations, the Arab League or the Organisation of Islamic States.

1981-1984

On 25 June 1981 at an African Union summit in Nairobi Morocco declared its intention to hold a referendum on self-determination for the Southern Provinces of the Sahara.  This proposal was supported by the African Union, but Algeria and their acolytes spearheaded an organised diplomatic campaign of opposition and succeeded in persuading the African Union to recognise these dissidents into the Polisario Front and its “Republic” at the African Union’s 38th session in February 1982 in Addis Ababa.  Morocco subsequently announced its intention to resign from the organisation, which it did in 1984.

2001

In his report to the Security Council on 20 June 2001, Kofi Annan declared that the Polisario Front and their masters were creating obstacles and that the Moroccan Plan offered the opportunity to realise a meaningful and consistent transfer of power to the Sahrawi population and did not exclude the holding of a referendum after a transitory period of five years.  This “Framework of Understanding” was adopted by the Security Council as resolution 1359 on 29 June 2001.

Although Morocco accepted this Plan with reservations, Algeria and the dissidents rejected it categorically, arousing bitter feelings within the international community.  James Baker travelled to Rabat to inform the Moroccans of Algeria’s rejection (resolution 1380 of the Security Council dated 27 November 2001) and of a proposal by Algeria and the Sahrawi dissidents to discuss partition of the Sahara, which was categorically rejected by Morocco.

February 2006

After torrential floods in Tindouf in south-west Algeria, the Polisario Front insisted on using vast sums of money, donated by the international community to ease the suffering of the Sahrawi Refugees in Tindouf, to “celebrate” the thirtieth anniversary of its so-called “state”.  Vast columns of military vehicles and hardware were put on display to international visitors invited to the “festivities”, which in contravention of UN statutes were held in the de-militarised zone along the Algerian-Moroccan border. 

11 April 2007

The Kingdom of Morocco presents its “Initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara Region” to the United Nations’ Security Council.

30 April 2007

The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution calling for negotiations “to be conducted in good faith, without pre-conditions bearing in mind the developments which have taken place during past months, with the aim of achieving a just political, lasting and mutually acceptable solution”.

June 2007

Moroccan and Polisario representatives met in Geneva, prior to substantive negotiations taking place in New York, 18-19 June. 

July 2007

Resumption of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario in New York under the auspices of the United Nations.

August 2007

Resumption of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario in New York under United Nations’ auspices.

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