European Commission 11 June presented proposed amendments to EU’s association agreement with Morocco aimed at aligning it with Dec 2016 European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that no EU trade or association agreements with Morocco could be applied to Western Sahara. Polisario Front independence movement said European Commission’s consultation process with Morocco did not involve any representatives of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and 15 June filed complaint at ECJ. UN Envoy for Western Sahara Horst Köhler held new round of talks in Morocco and Algeria 23 June-1 July to push for return to negotiations over disputed territory.
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