The sources of protracted conflict in the Western Sahara
Labac, Kai Lee
Hafez, Mohammed M.
Baylouny, Anne Marie
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Since the ceasefire of 1991, Morocco and the POLISARIO Front have maintained a stalemate in the Western Sahara conflict. This obscure war, which recently surpassed forty years of hostilities, is at the center of a complex set of regional and foreign interests that encourage its prolongation. New threats in the Sahel, a region riddled with international crime, have brought the contest into focus as gravely important to world order. The UN and international community recognize the potential of this conflict to destabilize North Africa and southern Europe and seek ways forward. While the conflict has roots in superpower rivalry and Algerian–Moroccan competition for regional hegemony, other forces have contributed to its persistence. This study examines potential explanations for the persistence of the conflict, especially inadequate UN organizational structures, Moroccan nationalism, and Algerian domestic politics. Other factors that have received too little attention include competition for national resources, international geopolitics, the weakness of neighboring states, and lobbying by special-interest NGOs. Critical issues and potential areas of reform are identified and recommendations made to assist policymakers and strategists in reaching conflict resolution.
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