Western Sahara conflict

The Western Sahara conflict is the conflict between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco. Polisario Front is a national liberation movement of the Sahrawi tribe with an aim to end the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara.

Key Points for UPSC Prelims

  • Western Sahara region which shares a border with Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania was a Spanish colony. The region is home to the Sahrawi tribe.
  • In 1975, as part of the Madrid Accords with Mauritania and Morocco, Spain was to leave the region on February 28, 1976. As per the accord, the Spanish Governor-General would administer the territory, with help from two Mauritanian and Moroccan Deputy Governors until its exit.
  • But the Polisario Front opposed the agreements. As a result, both Mauritania and Morocco sent their troops to Western Sahara to claim the region.
  • On February 27, 1976, before Spain's exit from the region, the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in Western Sahara.
  • SADR in Western Sahara is recognized by the African Union, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as well as the European Union.
  • However, no referendum has been made between the front and Morocco regarding the Western Sahara region.

Present Status of the Western Sahara Conflict

  • The conflict between Morocco, the Polisario Front, and Mauritania continued for 4 years after 1976. In 1979, Mauritania signed a peace treaty with Polisario and withdrew its military forces from the region. At the same time, Morocco advanced its troops and the war then continued till 1991 between Moroccan troops and the Polisario Front.
  • In 1991, a ceasefire was reached; upon the promise of holding an independence referendum in the region, Morocco had taken control of about 80% of the territory.

Morocco-Israel deal and its effect on Western Sahara

The Trump administration has agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over disputed Western Sahara territory, as a part of the Israel- Morocco deal.

Written by IAS POINT

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