Friday, June 29, 2012

Global Post: Western Sahara in geopolitical stalemate

Global Post
Western Sahara in geopolitical stalemate.
RABAT, Morocco and WASHINGTON — Relative to large pockets of human suffering in sub-Saharan Africa in the form of widespread famine or civil wars, the fate of Western Sahara, a disputed desert territory and its 120,000 people is easily overlooked.
Yet this particular conflict undermines regional security in North Africa and perpetuates a troublesome humanitarian situation. Amid a changing climate colored by the Arab Spring and the ascent of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Western Sahara is an unfortunate liability.
On April 24, the UN Security council extended for another year its peacekeeping mandate in Western Sahara, a region of sand and Atlantic coastline situated between Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania. This bureaucratic move signaled the UN’s frustration with ongoing failed talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front, Algeria’s armed political group.
For over two decades, the UN Security Council has tried to facilitate resolution of the 39-year conflict. Initially, the UN’s mandate was established to monitor a 1991 ceasefire and referendum on self-determination in the area Morocco began to acquire in November 1975. Both sides have continually disagreed over terms of the referendum, wherein native Sahraouis, an Arab and Berber people, would vote for self-determination and governance (...)
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