Western Sahara Reconsidered

by Nafaa Mohamed Salem

After 16 years of fighting, The United Nations brokered a ceasefire between the Polisario Front as being the sole representative of the Saharawi people and Morocco in order to hold a referendum that enables the people of Western Sahara, in the exercice of their right to self-determination, to choose between independence and integration with Morocco (Security Council S/21360) of 18 June 1990). A settlement proposals were presented on the 11 of August 1988 and quickly two weeks later, the parties informed the UN Secretary General, in principle, of their agreement. Overall, it must be recalled that:

1- All things considered, needless to say that the UN texts outlines that the ceasefire is linked to the rest of the Settlement Plan and is, as a matter of fact, a part of a broader peace process.

2- Practically speaking, The UN is in Western Sahara to implement a solution not to look for a new one and not to lead any negotiation of any kind as an agreement had been reached before any bargaining on new “ways” took place.

3- by and large, the “Independence” or “Integration” Agreement is a strong statement of terms with no room for adjustment. It is very positional and is the most precise use of the “take it or leave it” treat.

But as expected, a ceasefire signed early in a process, risks promoting a status quo, reinforcing a position of “new claims” as the objective rises to get a portion of (or as much of) whatever is available or gaining “breathing space” and consolidating military and economic positions. That is exactly the case of Western Sahara. The ceasefire enhanced Morocco’s reluctance to implement the Settlement Plan, the Polisario Front threatened every time to resume the fight. This situation engendered a chaos of absurd rounds of negotiations, talks and round-tables which stalled over the UN agenda resulting of all the envoys outrageously pulling out.

Now the bargaining range is fully open. With everything back to the first square, the Polisario Front should resume the armed struggle to impose, as in first place, the right of the Saharawi people to only liberty and independence.


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