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This paper aims to investigate the story of a country that was colonized by Spain, abandoned by Madrid, and subsequently claimed by Morocco. Spanish Sahara, now known as Western Sahara, is the territory in question. When Spanish Sahara was left by Spain to fend for itself in 1975, King Hassan of Morocco claimed sovereignty over it. King Hassan saw a potential “Greater Morocco”, which, in his view, encompassed Morocco-proper and the former Spanish Sahara. Since becoming recognized as a non-self-governing territory, most of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco and much of its native population resides in Tindouf refugee camps. These camps, in neighboring Algeria, are home to an organized government body, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, alongside the Polisario Front which has militarily resisted Moroccan occupation. Despite various attempts by the U.N. to hold a referendum on the independence of Western Sahara, such a vote has never happened. Disputes over qualified voters have completely halted the process, an especially convoluted point since the Green March in 1975, in which the Moroccan government enabled hundreds of thousands of Moroccans to march into Western Saharan territory. Morocco now controls some 80 percent of the territory behind a large wall barrier constructed by Moroccan forces and reinforced by American mine technology. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, has called Moroccan presence in Western Sahara an occupation. This raises three questions: how has Moroccan diplomacy frustrated Saharawi independence, what options are still feasible as a solution, and how should the U.S. respond to the recent developments in this longstanding conflict?
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Glaenzer, Léa Gervais, "Self-Determination in the Western Sahara: Obstacles and Obligations" (2021). Senior Projects Spring 2021. 127.
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