Motives: The Fight Over Western Sahara (Western Sahara Special III)

Coat of arms of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.svg
Image: Polisario Front Symbol

This is Part III of the Western Sahara Special.  Previous articles: Part I and Part II.

Morocco's Motive
Morocco believes that since Western Sahara had been under its control prior to European colonization, Moroccan authority should prevail now that the Europeans have left.  Morocco also claims that it has improved the overall living conditions of Western Sahara, including education. The Moroccan kingdom also believes that it has been more than gracious in offering to allow autonomous rule in Western Sahara, once the region joins with Morocco.

The Polisario Front's Motive
The Polisario Front fought to expel the Spanish and thus believes it has the right to govern Western Sahara and to accept Morocco's promise of autonomy would be an admission that the region was not completely independent.  After fighting a protracted war (from 1975 until a 1991 ceasefire), the Polisario Front believes the only acceptable result is one of total independence.

Algeria's Motive
Algeria claims that it supports the Polisario Front and wishes for the independence of Western Sahara. Algeria itself fought a protracted independence war with France and sees itself as a defender of independence.  Thousands of Western Saharan refugees fled into Algeria and if Morocco was to leave the region, Algeria believes those refugees could return home

Ulterior Motives
Western Sahara, while mostly desert, is home to some valuable phosphates.  Whoever has control of Western Sahara would therefore have control over those resources.  By siding with the Polisario Front, Algeria is making life more difficult for Morocco.  Morocco wants to make sure its borders are protected and controlling Western Sahara provides a buffer zone between Morocco and its neighbors.

International Motives
Many international nations, especially those that promote democracy and freedom, believe Western Sahara has the right to be independent.  But as a vital member in the War on Terror, Morocco is of more international importance to those nations.  Thus many of them deliver vague political rhetoric without pressuring any side to reach a conclusion.  The status quo is the preferred outcome.

Tomorrow we will look more closely at Morocco's influence in Western Sahara.

Thanks for reading!

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