Freedom Without Freedom: The "End" of Colonialism (Western Sahara Special II)

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This is Part II of the Western Sahara Special.  If you missed Part I, click here

After World War II
The Post-World War II climate was one of decolonization.  In the decades following the war, numerous Western European empires relinquished control of their colonial lands.  In some cases, provisions were made to secure peace and stability in the newly independent states, but Western Sahara was not one of those cases.

Spain's Exit
Spain had been pressured by Western Saharan citizens and by the United Nations to leave Western Sahara after holding a referendum in which the colonists could decide their future.  The exit request was followed through in 1975, but Western Sahara was never allowed to hold its referendum.

Morocco's Arrival
Morocco gained independence from France in 1956 and after Spanish troops left Western Sahara, Moroccan troops occupied the region.  The Polisario Front, a Western Saharan independence group that had fought against Spanish control, now saw itself taking up arms against the Moroccan military.

Further Complications
Mauritania and Algeria, both newly independent from French control, also tried to exert control of the situation.  For a short time Mauritania claimed to be the rightful rulers of Western Sahara, but eventually gave up its claims.  This left the future of Western Sahara in the hands of Morocco, Algeria, and the Polisario Front; with intervention from the United Nations also playing a major role.

Tomorrow we will look at the development of this fight over Western Sahara.

Thanks for reading!

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