EU’s General Court 19 July ruled that territory of Western Sahara and its adjacent waters do not fall under Moroccan sovereignty, confirming rulings of European Court of Justice. Morocco and EU 24 July signed new fisheries agreement: EU to give Morocco €52mn per year for allowing boats from EU to fish in Morocco’s waters, including waters off Western Sahara; Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) said deal “encourages the Moroccan occupation” of Western Sahara and “European Commission is accomplice to this robbery”. Polisario Front independence movement’s dissident wing Khatt al-Shahid early July sent letter to African Union contesting SADR’s claim to be sole representative of Sahrawi people, denouncing human rights violations by security forces during crackdown on protesters taking part in sit-in 16 June in Tindouf refugee camps after political activist died in prison early June.
The Western Sahara conflict is both one of the world’s oldest and one of its most neglected.
The combination of Morocco’s recent proposal of a “Sahara autonomous region”, the Polisario Front’s counter-proposal of independence with guarantees for Moroccan interests and the UN Security Council’s 30 April resolution calling for direct negotiations between the parties – due to begin on 18 June – has been hailed as a promising breakthrough in the protracted Western Sahara dispute.
Refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, have long been run by the Polisario movement, which seeks an independent state in Western Sahara, also claimed by Morocco. But a new generation of Sahrawi refugees is growing fractious as aid dwindles and diplomatic efforts fail to deliver a settlement.
Originally published in Al Hayat
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal Europe