Western Sahara Conflict in the Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Which historians Yahia Zoubir and Daniel Volman describe this way:

At the same time, they [the Judges] are in accord in providing indications of a legal tie of allegiance between the Sultan and some, though only some, of the tribes of the territory, and in providing indications of some display of the Sultan's authority or influence with respect to those tribes."

For the court to have found in the favor of Morocco based on "historic" claims, would have opened the door of a Pandora's box, and there was simply no way to legally deal with that situation. A finding in Morocco's favor would undo the modern world. Then, strangely enough, and because if he wanted to remain in the dynamics of the argument and struggle for control over Western Sahara, Morocco's King Hussan III interpreted the court's findings in favor of Morocco, and in accordance with Moroccan law. If the referendums on the UN resolutions had been held, then this would have ostensibly made moot Morocco's claim.

Spain never held the referendums, and Zoubir and Volman offer as reasons 1) Spain's own domestic issues, which were preoccupying the political resources of the country. This is a sound reason, because, as Zoubir and Volman point out, Franco's health was failing him, and there would have been political maneuverings and vying for power for the political power players to be concerned with and intensely focused upon. Less convincing is the argument made by Zoubir and Volman that Spain's failure to hold the referendums was as a result of global pressure, and that to do so might have caused Spain to become involved in a confrontation with Morocco. Whether or not Spain held the referendums, it was taking itself out of the African continent, and would not have been threatened by Morocco.

It is unlikely that, given the situation that Morocco was in, and the resources it was already directing towards its claim to the Western Sahara, that Morocco would have pursued Spain individually post withdrawal for holding the referendums. It is more likely that Morocco would have been contentious to whatever entity the referendum transferred power to. That is demonstrated by the fact that the powers instilled in the Sahrawi by the United Nations, remained instilled the Sahrawi even when Spain did not hold the referendums. Spain's inaction brought about the same result that action would have yielded, and, therefore, it was simply in Spain's long-term relationship with Morocco not to act in a statement, such as a referendum. Thus, Zoubir and Volmer's argument that it would have lead to military conflict between Spain and Morocco is not a strong argument in explanation of why Spain did not hold the referendums.

Spain effectively divorced itself of the problems in Africa.

Zoubir and Volmer base their theory of thought on the fact that in 1975 Morocco rallied not just its troops, but Moroccans, too, in what is known as the Green March. Zoubir and Volmer contend that Spain was intimidated by the show of force wit Morcco's military, which was supported by the civilian movement. Zoubir and Volmer think that this was also a sign of the pressure that Morocco was putting on Spain. Zoubir and Volmer's position does not, however, originate from the perspective that Spain had already given in to the UN urgings to leave Western Sahara, and that it was only a matter of logistics that Spain was still in the country at the time that Morocco made its show of force. Also, from Morocco's perspective, the show of force while Spain was still there was necessary in order to give rise to the idea that Spain was being pressured by Morocco, and that Morocco's forces were in some way a threat to Spain.

It is not unlikely that Spain had the same logic as did the United States when the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam; there was no loss, because the United States was a super power pulling out of a situation that could have gone very differently had the U.S. flexed its muscles in a different way. Spain was still counted among the post World War II allies and super powers, and there was no need for it to flex its muscle against Morocco, with whom Spain could better benefit in a post colonial relationship. Morocco had everything to gain from the Green March,
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while Spain had nothing to lose by the March, nor by taking a sideline to sit out the situation as the powers that prevailed and remain in stalemate today, and were vying for power in 1975 when the march took place.

The Executive Summary of 2007 does not provide a good insight into Morocco's position of thirty years ago, but makes good points about Morocco's present day position. Of all the players, Morocco perhaps has the most to lose economically if it is not awarded Western Sahara under its claim. The summary points out that 85% of the Western Sahara Sahrawi population live on territory under Moroccan control, and Morocco has controlled that territory in large part for the past thirty years. The summary points to the fact that in the thirty years that Morocco has had control of its 85% of the land of Western Sahara, the civilians who live under its control have prospered in many ways; which is not to say they enjoy a democratic style freedom. The summary is quick to offset the financial progress of the region, giving credit as is due to Morocco for that economic prosperity; but nonetheless that the Sahrawi who live there are not at liberty to criticize the Moroccan King, or government, and that the elections cannot be verified as occurring without fraud and complicity on the part of the Moroccan governing body. This is, however, much the same as in Morocco, and because Morocco sees Western Sahara as historically belonging to the kingdom of Greater Morocco, one should not perhaps expect the political issues to be different in nature on either side of the Western Sahara border.

The biggest problem that international peace keeping organizations have with Morocco is evidenced in the Executive Summary of 2007. The summary states:

Rabat (seat of Moroccan government) violently stifles any claim of independence, frequently resorting to torture and arbitrary arrests, including against human rights activists. It has repeatedly prevented visits by international delegations wishing to observe the situation and has frequently expelled foreign journalists. Through the numerous benefits it grants, Rabat attracts populations from the north of Morocco to Western Sahara with the effect that the Sahrawis will very soon be a minority in that area, giving them a strong sense of dispossession. Moroccans as a whole have also had to bear heavy costs."

Spain encountered problems when, in 1973, the Polisario began guerrilla attacks against Spanish troops. By 1975, Spain was pulling out of Western Sahara altogether, and ceded control of the region to Morocco and Mauritania. This left Algeria out of the sphere of control, and since that time Algeria has thrown its support and resources behind the Polisario, with Sahrawians seeking refugee protection in Algeria. Morocco is perceived by some human rights organizations as an antagonist to the Sahrawians, because Morocco clings to the idea that the Sahrawians will become a minority at some point in the future. This is difficult to grasp at this point, because the Sahrawians are a majority in Western Sahara. One conclusion that might be drawn based on the Moroccan notion that the Sahrawians will become a minority in the future, gives rise to concerns about human rights violations, and especially concerns of potential genocide. Morocco's 2003 defense budget was 2.3 billion dollars (USD). It keeps a military unit in country, and a second unit devoted to the Western Sahara. While Algeria supports the Polisario Front (PF), Algeria has not made an aggressive military move of its own forces against Morocco. However, the PF is estimated at 3,000 to 6,000 guerrillas, who represent an exiled authority.

It has been more than three decades since the Spanish left the Sahara. During that time Morocco has made a large financial and political investment in the region.

This is the third element in the Moroccan position:

Extensive financial investment in the region's economic sectors

Morocco, if it decided to yield to the autonomy of the Sahrawian population, would have to be compensated for its heavy investment in the economy of the area. The Executive Summary of 2007 is vague in describing the extensive investment, other than defining it as military, which is well understood as to the costs. Then, in the southern of Western Sahara, the Executive Summary refers only to 'investment." It does not define "investment," in the "Southern provinces," leaving the nature of the…

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Works Cited


Borowiec, Andrew. 2003. Taming the Sahara: Tunisia Shows a Way While Others Falter. Westport, CT: Praeger. Book online. Available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=107024757.Internet. Accessed 14 August 2008. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002077928

Dela Rosa, Darrell. 2003. The UN Role in Western Sahara. UN Chronicle, September-November, 22+. Database online. Available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002077928.Internet. Accessed 14 August 2008. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5026946743

Dodds, Klaus. 2008. Western Sahara. Geographical, May, 12. Database online. Available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5026946743.Internet. Accessed 14 August 2008.

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