Migrants on Europe’s border: Spain and Morocco’s deadly game

Border fence at Ceuta, North Africa, between territory claimed by Spain and Morocco (photo: Youtrandyoutry. CC BY-SA 4.0)
Border fence at Ceuta, North Africa, between territories claimed by Spain and Morocco (photo: Youtrandyoutry. CC BY-SA 4.0)

In May, Morocco opened its border with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, prompting 8,000 people, including 850 children, to enter the autonomous port city, intending to migrate to Spain. It was a move motivated on Morocco’s part by its relationship with Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony now seeking independence from Morocco. For its part, the Spanish government responded to the influx of migrants with violence and deportations, deploying the Army and other repressive state forces. XABI AIERU reports.


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Western Sahara returns to armed struggle

Sahrawi troops

The Sahrawi movement for independence represented in the Polisario Front has announced a return to the armed struggle in the Western Sahara. Moroccan occupation forces broke the 1991 ceasefire line on 13 November 2020, prompting the Polisario to declare war. Morocco’s king Mohammed VI is downplaying the incident, relying on European and US backing as he represents their interests in Africa. Morocco occupies around 80% of the Western Sahara and the Polisario-led Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) controls the remainder, though most Sahrawis live as refugees in neighbouring Algeria. SADR president Bharim Ghali announced that Sahrawis have waited enough for the UN and the ‘international community’ to mediate a peaceful solution.


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Western Sahara: a risen people

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 28, April 1983

The people of Western Sahara have been fighting an armed struggle for national liberation against imperialist-backed Morocco for the past seven years. For Morocco and the imperialists these have been years of defeat and despair. For the Saharan people under the leadership of the POLISARIO Front they have been years of immense military and political advances. POLISARIO forces have now liberated over 90% of Western Sahara's 127,000 sq miles.


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Western Sahara: an albatross on African Union’s conscience

Western Sahara

We are pleased to publish an article on Western Sahara and the African Union, which we have received from Nizar Visram, a free-lance writer from Tanzania (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). This article is published for discussion and education, and is prefaced by a short introduction, giving the background to the struggle.

In 1975, following Spanish dictator Francisco Franco's death, the Spanish state abandoned its last large colony on Africa, Rio de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra - modern-day Western Sahara. However, instead of becoming independent, it was handed over to Morocco and Mauritania, which claimed the territory. The national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, unilaterally claimed the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and fought back with Soviet and Algerian aid. Polisario was able to defeat Mauritania, with whom it has good relations today. However, Morocco was able to drive out all armed resistance from the strategic locations and major towns. It did so thanks to the consistent military aid from Western Europe and the US. Also, the Moroccan state colonised the Western Sahara with civilians, outnumbering the natives, and built a wall for every area that it secured. The longest is now the ceasefire line, set in 1991 by the UN. About half of the Sahrawi population, around 200,000, lives in Western Algeria in refugee camps, where Polisario's headquarters are based.

Western Sahara is mostly desert, but is rich in various resources. Its coast has become an important source of tuna for Europe. In the interior, there are large phosphate mines and its soil is being tested for oil and natural gas. The Western Sahara's profitability is increased even further as the Moroccan king is, jointly with European companies such as Siemens, building renewable energy sources and farming areas. King Mohammed VI personally owns strategic sectors such as electricity, giving him an increased motivation to continue the occupation.

Western Sahara: an albatross on African Union’s conscience

At the 28th Summit meeting of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa on 30 January 2017, Morocco’s readmission to the continental body generated heated discussion. At the end of the day the Kingdom of Morocco managed to win over sufficient member states on its side and it was allowed to join the fold unconditionally.


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