UN Peacekeepers in Western Sahara Struggle to Keep the Region Neutral
In Western Sahara, a territory located in North Africa, the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINURSO, is working to keep the region neutral. However, this is proving to be a difficult task as both Morocco and the Polisario Front are vying for control.
The Moroccans claim that Western Sahara is historically their land and insist on incorporating it into their kingdom. The Polisario Front, on the other hand, was formed in 1973 by the Sahrawi people who live in Western Sahara and demand an independent state. They have been involved in a bloody conflict with Morocco since 1975.
Over the years, MINURSO has been unable to broker a peaceful solution to the conflict and the situation continues to worsen. The peacekeepers are now struggling to maintain neutrality as the two sides become increasingly hostile towards each other. In recent months, there have been numerous reports of clashes between Moroccan and Polisario forces, as well as incidents involving MINURSO peacekeepers.
In one recent case, Moroccan troops opened fire on a UN convoy after allegedly being attacked by Polisario fighters. No one was injured in the incident, but it highlights the dangers that peacekeepers face in Western Sahara. Earlier this year, four Moroccan peacekeepers were killed when their convoy was ambushed by Polisario fighters.
The situation in Western Sahara is very complex and there is no easy solution. The UN peacekeeping mission faces many challenges as it tries to maintain neutrality in a region that is bitterly divided.
Western Sahara on the Verge of a New Civil War
The Western Sahara has been a contested territory since the Spanish left in 1975. The indigenous Sahrawi people have long sought self-determination, while Morocco has laid claim to the region since the late 1970s. A cease-fire was reached in 1991, but the situation has been tense in recent years, with both sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations.
In October 2017, protests broke out in the Western Sahara after a Sahrawi man was killed by police. The unrest continued into early 2018, with dozens of protesters killed and injured. In March, the United Nations Security Council called for an immediate end to violence and urged both sides to return to negotiations.
However, these negotiations have made little progress, and talks stalled in August after Morocco withdrew its delegation from the UN-sponsored talks in protest of a new United Nations report on human rights abuses in Western Sahara. The report strongly criticized Morocco’s human rights record in the territory, including allegations of torture and forced disappearances.
Now it appears that the situation may be deteriorating into another civil war. On September 24th, Moroccan forces reportedly crossed into Sahrawi territory and clashed with rebels affiliated with the Polisario Front. The rebels claimed that three Moroccans were killed in the fighting; Morrocan authorities denied this and said that only one soldier had died.
This clash marks a significant escalation in the conflict and raises fears of a new civil war breaking out in Western Sahara. The region is already suffering from high levels of poverty and unemployment, which could be exacerbated by further violence. The United Nations has warned that such a conflict would have devastating consequences for civilians in the region.
It is now more important than ever that both sides resume negotiations and reach a peaceful settlement to this longstanding conflict.
International Community Calls on Morocco to Withdraw from Western Sahara
The international community is calling on Morocco to withdraw its military forces from the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
In a statement released Thursday, the United Nations Security Council urged “the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General with a view to reaching a peaceful and durable solution.” The Security Council also called for “the immediate withdrawal of all members of the Moroccan Armed Forces from the territory.”
This call from the international community comes as tensions flare in Western Sahara. On Tuesday, Moroccan security forces opened fire on protesters in the city of El Aaiun, killing one person and wounding several others.
Morocco has been occupying Western Sahara since 1975, when it invaded after a referendum on independence was rejected by the Moroccan government. The UN has repeatedly called for a withdrawal of Moroccan forces, but to no avail.
In addition to Algeria, which supports the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination, a number of other countries have condemned Morocco’s actions in Western Sahara. These include Spain, France, and most recently the United States.
The Struggle for Western Sahara Continues
For over 40 years, the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have been engaged in a bitter struggle for independence from Morocco. After years of occupying and annexing the territory, Morocco has refused to allow a referendum on independence, as called for by the United Nations. This has resulted in a protracted and bloody conflict which has claimed thousands of lives and left many more wounded.
The Sahrawis are a people who have long fought for their rights. They were one of the last groups of Africans to gain their independence from European colonial rule, and they have never given up their dream of an autonomous homeland. The current conflict began in 1975, when Morocco invaded and occupied Western Sahara after Spain withdrew from the region. For over 20 years, the Sahrawis waged a guerrilla war against the Moroccan forces, but they were eventually forced into exile in Algeria.
Since then, they have continued to fight for their rights, using peaceful means such as protests and demonstrations. They also formed the Polisario Front, a nationalist movement dedicated to achieving self-determination for Western Sahara. Despite international support, including from several African countries, Morocco has refused to allow a referendum on independence. This has resulted in a bloody conflict which has claimed thousands of lives and left many more wounded.
Now, with the help of Algeria, the Sahrawis are making another push for independence. In April 2017, they held talks with representatives of Morocco in order to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. However, no agreement was reached and the talks broke down soon afterwards. The Sahrawis remain committed to achieving their goal of self-determination, and they will continue their struggle until they achieve justice and freedom for their people.
What is Next for Western Sahara?
The Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa. The area is home to a population of around half a million people, most of whom are Sahrawi Arabs. The Sahrawi people are the indigenous population of the Western Sahara and have long sought independence from Morocco.
For many years, the Western Sahara was controlled by Spain. In 1975, Spain withdrew from the territory and it was subsequently seized by Morocco and Mauritania. A bloody conflict ensued, with the Moroccan military forces fighting against the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi nationalist movement seeking independence for the region.
Since 1991, a ceasefire has been in place and the UN has been involved in attempts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. However, progress has been slow and there are still no signs of a resolution being reached anytime soon.
What is next for the Western Sahara? There are several possible scenarios that could play out in coming months and years.
One possibility is that Morocco will continue its military campaign against the Polisario Front and eventually take control of the entire territory. This seems unlikely given that it has not been successful so far, but it cannot be ruled out entirely.
Another possibility is that Morocco will agree to give autonomy to the Sahrawi people within the borders of Western Sahara. This would be a major concession on Morocco’s part, but it may be preferable to a full-blown war. It is also possible that UN-led negotiations will eventually result in an agreement that allows for self-determination for the Sahrawi people.
Whatever happens, it is likely that there will be continued tension and violence in the Western Sahara for some time to come. The UN will need to remain engaged if there is any hope of reaching a peaceful resolution to this long-running conflict.