International Dimensions of the Western Sahara Conflict

International Dimensions of the Western Sahara Conflict

International Dimensions of the Western Sahara Conflict

International Dimensions of the Western Sahara Conflict


Although the war in the Western Sahara recently entered its 16th year, until now very few scholarly works have dealt with the regional and international dimensions of the conflict. In particular, no significant works have been published over the past three years, even though there have been a number of key developments during this period, especially the increasingly important involvement of the UN. This book constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of the role of outside powers in the war, of the efforts of the Maghrebi states to overcome regional conflicts, and of the role of the UN in attempts to resolve the conflict.


Representative Mervyn M. Dymally

As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, I am heartened by the scholarly endeavors contained in the International Dimensions of the Western Sahara Conflict, edited by Daniel Volman and Yahia H. Zoubir. I have attempted during my tenure on the subcommittee to heighten public awareness of this problem by sponsoring legislation on the Western Sahara, holding hearings, and generating joint letters from Members of Congress to U.S. and United Nations officials.

The Polisario Front has been fighting against Morocco for the independence of the Western Sahara since 1975. For over ninety years, the Western Sahara was a Spanish colony. When the Spanish were driven out, the Moroccans crossed the border and occupied the territory which was formerly the Spanish Sahara.

Despite the United Nations' adopting a peace plan calling for a free and fair referendum of self-determination in the Western Sahara on April 19, 1991, resulting in a cease-fire currently in effect, the referendum of self-determination for the Western Sahara is in jeopardy. The Polisario Front continues its protracted battle on behalf of the Sahrawi people in the face of huge obstacles.

Many Americans have never heard of the Sahrawi people, African Arabs who speak Spanish and have survived over sixteen years of exile in the Algerian desert and throughout Europe. They are struggling for the right to vote on their future, as to whether they will have their own country or be a part of Morocco. The international community, through the United Nations, has granted them the right to choose, but whether or not they are able to exercise that right depends on the support they are able to amass throughout the world.

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