Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Confict Irresolution

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Confict Irresolution

Article excerpt

Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution. By Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010.319 pp. $49.95.

Western Sahara is an informed, richly detailed study of an unresolved and largely forgotten conflict, now almost four decades old, over the future of the "Spanish Sahara," the last African ex-colony with juridically undefined status. It is also a work of unabashed advocacy for Western Sanaran independence, written by a long-time critic of U.S. foreign policy, Zunes, and Mundy, a younger scholar who has done credible work on the subject. Some may be persuaded by their insistence that independence is the only solution that could be just, durable, and lasting. Others will not.

The authors make a good case that international law, as generally understood, supports the right of the territory's population to self-determination and independence, and that this has been prevented by a U.S. -Franco consensus supporting Morocco's rejection of independence and incorporation of the territory into the kingdom. Western Sahara also provides a window into the repeated dysfunction of the U.N. secretariat-general and its more than two decades of unsuccessful peacemaking efforts. Less persuasive is the authors' insistence on the existence of a coherent Western Saharan nationalism among the region's tribally organized population (especially at the beginning of the dispute ) and their downplaying of the Algerian contribution to the conflict. …

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