Diplomats have struggled to broker negotiations over the disputed territory of Western Sahara since late 2020, when a ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front broke down. If it steps up its engagement, Washington may be able to get the ball rolling.
Attack reported in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara for first time since ceasefire collapsed in Nov 2020.
Bombing reportedly damaged phosphate facility in Western Sahara. NGO Western Sahara Resource Watch late May reported explosion in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara destroyed section of conveyor belt transporting phosphates from mine to export facility; neither Morocco nor Polisario Front independent movement commented on incident which, if confirmed, would be first attack in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara since ceasefire collapsed in 2020 and highlight unexpected vulnerability of Morocco’s security apparatus.
Israel pledged to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. During visit to Morocco, Israeli Parliament Speaker Amir Ohana 8 June said Israel will soon support Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara; move could lead to full upgrade of Israeli-Moroccan ties, with countries’ respective missions, now designated as liaison offices, becoming embassies, and free trade agreement in medium term.
We're seeing a diplomatic war [over Western Sahara], where both sides [Algeria and Morocco] are resorting to anything short of open conflict.
On 29 October, the UN Security Council will vote on the UN mission in Western Sahara’s renewal. Following last year’s resumption of hostilities and the appointment of a new envoy, Council members should signal their commitment to relaunching negotiations and an even-handed approach to the conflict.
Hugh Pope is joined by North Africa experts Intissar Fakir and Riccardo Fabiani to ask whether Morocco holds a winning hand in its conflict with the pro-independence Polisario Front in Western Sahara as Europe looks on timidly, wary of direct challenges to the regional power.
The fighting in Western Sahara, which broke out again in November 2020, remains of low intensity. Yet outside powers would be wrong to assume that it will not escalate. With U.S. support, the new UN envoy should pursue confidence-building measures that could facilitate negotiations.
Clashes have broken out in Western Sahara, ending a 30-year ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front. Fighting could intensify absent outside help. The UN should fill its empty special envoy post, while the U.S. leads international efforts to restart diplomacy.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Rob Malley and guest host Richard Atwood talk with Dahlia Scheindlin and Crisis Group’s North Africa Project Director Riccardo Fabiani about the normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco and the accompanying U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, have long been run by the Polisario movement, which seeks an independent state in Western Sahara, also claimed by Morocco. But a new generation of Sahrawi refugees is growing fractious as aid dwindles and diplomatic efforts fail to deliver a settlement.
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