Sahara Back on the International Front Burner

There are few more volatile flashpoints in Moroccan political discourse, in my experience, than the status of the Sahara, known in my day as a “red line.” Depending on one’s point of view, Morocco has either reasserted sovereignty over its Southern Provinces following the Green March in 1975, celebrated in Morocco as a national holiday, or an oppressive occupation denying the rights of the indigenous Sahrawi people to self-determination.

As the United Nations Security Council endorses renewed negotiations after a recent flare up of the conflict in the southern village of Guerguerat, the Washington Post reports that there may be some hope for a negotiated regional autonomy plan floated by Morocco and supported by France, although the Polisario Front guerrilla opposition continues to hold out for “self-determination through a referendum for the local population, which it estimates at between 350,000 and 500,000.” Wash. Post.

After 40 years under Moroccan administration and a frozen status quo since a cease-fire in 1991, one could be pardoned for being skeptical about the prospect of resolving the conflict in the near future; however the fact that the issue is once again on the international front burner is probably healthy.

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