وثائق تاريخية وسيادة مغربية


Documents & sovereignity

وثائق تاريخية وسيادة مغربية

Since the 1970s, Morocco and the independence-seeking Popular Front for the Liberation of Saqiat al Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) have vied, at times violently, for control of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. In 1991, the United Nations (U.N.) arranged a ceasefire and proposed a settlement plan calling for a referendum to allow the people of the Western Sahara to choose between independence and integration into Morocco. A long deadlock on determining the electorate for a referendum ensued. (The number of Sahrawis, as the indigenous people of Western Sahara are known, is disputed and politically fraught.) The U.N. then unsuccessfully suggested alternatives to the unfulfilled settlement plan and ultimately, in 2007, called on the parties to negotiate. In April 2007, Morocco offered a plan for increased regional autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. The Polisario, for its part, has continued to call for a referendum on independence.
The current Personal Envoy of the U.N. Secretary-General on 
Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, a U.S. diplomat, has attempted to facilitate negotiations.
However, there has been no concrete progress toward a settlement due to an apparent unwillingness on either side to compromise. The stalemate has received new international interest due to concerns over regional security threats, but a breakthrough does not appear imminent.
Morocco controls roughly 85% of the disputed territory and considers the whole area part of its sovereign territory. In line with his autonomy initiative, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has pursued policies of decentralization that he says are intended to empower residents of his Saharan provinces. The Polisario has a government in exile, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which is hosted and backed by neighboring Algeria. The Western Sahara issue has stymied Moroccan-Algerian bilateral relations, Moroccan relations with the African Union, and regional cooperation on economic and security issues.
The United States has not recognized the SADR or Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The United States supports the U.N. mediation effort, has referred to the Moroccan autonomy proposal as “serious, realistic, and credible,” and has urged the parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution—an outcome that would not destabilize its ally, Morocco. The United States contributes funds, but no manpower, to the U.N. Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in the Western Sahara (MINURSO). MINURSO was initially created to organize a referendum, but its role now is to monitor the 1991 cease-fire. Human rights advocates and some international diplomats support mandating MINURSO to monitor human rights, but Morocco is adamantly
opposed, and portrays such proposals as an affront to its sovereignty. 
Morocco and the Polisario, and advocates on both sides, regularly appeal to Congress to support their positions. Many Members have expressed support for Morocco’s position, while others support an independence referendum and/or are concerned about human rights conditions inMoroccan-administered areas. Congressional positions have been regularly expressed through provisions in foreign aid appropriations legislation and related reporting requirements. The FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-76, January 17, 2014) states that bilateral economic assistance appropriated for Morocco “should also be available for assistance for the
territory of the Western Sahara.” It has been the policy of successive Administrations that bilateral foreign assistance funds appropriated for Morocco may not be used in Western Sahara, as this could be interpreted as tacitly accepting Morocco’s claim of sovereignty .

Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs
October 8, 2014
Congressional Research Service
7-5700
RS20962 

 

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