What’s the deal with Western Sahara?

Everytime I see a data map on some topic, Western Sahara is always filed under ”No Data” or something similar. I know that the area is disputed by Morocco and some self governing body in the area, but that’s all I know. Is this like an Israel-Palestine thing, or something else?

@Rigal@lemmy.world avatar

Spanish here, and not really versed on the matter, but I’ll share what I heard. It borderlines conspiracy theories so take it with a stone of salt.

Basically it was part of Spain, with the civil war and following years it was considered a hassle and left abandoned, despite saharauis can get Spanish nationality. During decolonization the UN said that spain should decolonise it and help to stablish an autonomous government. Spain did nothing because it stopped recognising the territory as their own. Therefore it becomes no body’s land. Morroco has interest on that area and saharauis has interest on being independants. Spain doesn’t care and just use it for politics with Morroco.

The far left say say that saharauis should be protected, but the rest doesn’t really care and sometimes it is used as a political leverage with Morroco. There are even conspiracies theories that the king Juan Carlos was a CIA agent or at least sympatizer and has helped on maintain the ignore policy on west Sahara issue among other policies with north africa.

It’s like palestina in the sense that is being colonized and abused by Morroco.

In the last year’s Morroco has become an strategy ally to nato and Spain has moved further apart from Sahara to improve nato relationship with Morroco. In the last year’s I belive USA has made accords to open military bases on Morroco, sell fighter planes and integrate it with NATO. Even more since in the recent times africa has become a theater for china’s and Rusia private military corps, and has been several coup d’tat in center and north africa states that has forced European and nato armies to retreat from that territory.

To sum up. UN sais it’s a Spanish colony. Spain sais it is not their territory. Morroco sais it’s rightfully theirs. Polisarian front sais it’s an independant land.

chuso avatar

Another Spaniard here, for the record.

I wouldn't say it's like Palestine, there are relevant differences between both cases. The basis of the Palestinian conflict and the reason why two states were created were mostly religious and ethnic. I don't think any of that plays a significant role in the Saharan case and it's all down to Moroccan expansionism and access to oil reserves in the Saharan sea.
In the Palestinian case, it was a former British colony that was being decolonized and tensions between two communities living in that territory led to the current situation. I'm not going into the details because it would be too long, you can just go to Wikipedia.
In the Saharan case, it was a Spanish former colony which, in the process of being decolonized, was invaded by a neighbouring country for political and economic reasons.

You are basically saying Western Sahara ended up in this situation because Spain abandoned it unattending the UN's mandate to decolonize it.
Spain was indeed attending the UN's mandate to decolonize it as it did with Equatorial Guinea a few years before, which is an independent country nowadays. But both Mauritania and Morocco had aspirations on Western Sahara and wouldn't accept an independent Sahara, so taking advantage of one moment of political weakness in Spain with the dictator retired to die, Morocco invaded Western Sahara and mainland Spain was more concerned about their internal issues and was not in the position to defend the Sahara against Moroccan invasion.

Mauritania eventually gave up on their aspirations on Sahara and that's how we ended up in the current situation with a Morocco-occupied Sahara with a self-proclaimed government that fights back against the occupation with very little support (other than Algeria) because Morocco has much stronger diplomatic ties.

The current situation, de jure, is that Western Sahara is a Spanish former colony in the process of being decolonized.
But de facto, it's a territory governed by Morocco and disputed with the Polisario Front, which was already fighting against Spanish occupation before Moroccan one and has declared an independent Republic which has very little recognition.
De jure, Spain would be continuing the decolonization process, but that's not realistic when the territory has been occupied by Morocco for half a century.

It's true, however, that this is not an issue that raises a lot of interest currently in Spain for anything else than playing internal politics.
Also, Morocco and Spain have a lot of common interests so Spain is very careful to not upset Morocco with this topic. On the other hand, Algeria is the biggest supporter of the Polisarian cause and another Spanish strategic ally and probably the reason why Spain hasn't fully abandoned yet the Saharan cause. So Spain usually tries to play a low profile on this trying to balance their position between not upsetting Morocco and not upsetting Algeria.

For more details, Wikipedia is still your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_March

And the former Spanish king being a CIA agent? Yeah, I don't think it's even worth to add any comment to that.

And, of course, when I say "Spain", "Morocco", "Algeria", etc., I am referring to the regime that ruled the country at that moment.
I'm not trying to imply that every Moroccan or Algerian is responsible for what their rulers do the same way that a lot of Spaniards were not Franco supporters by that time.

@Rigal@lemmy.world avatar

Thank you for correcting me.

About the cia agent, as I said it borderlines conspiracy theory but it’s possible to find media about the subject : meneame.net/…/rey-juan-carlos-borbon-fue-espia-ee…

Basically after the green march Juan Carlos was providing information to the CIA about Francos movements in western Sahara. The CIA has declassified this papers recently and we’re previously exposed by Wikileaks.

Supposedly Juan Carlos was betraying and providing information in exchange for the United States supporting the monarchy in the future.


From what I can gather, that is pretty much the reason.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is the self governing body you mentioned but it is only recognised by about 50 nations.

My guess is that, to avoid upsetting Morocco most demographers just give it the "No Data" flag and move on.

@FlyingSquid@lemmy.world avatar

That’s part of it, but the other part is that, like its name suggests, it’s the Sahara. Most of it is unknown territory for most of the world. Maybe a tribe here or there has been through it, but that’s it.

@charlytune@mander.xyz avatar

I’m a bit confused by your comment and what you mean by “a tribe here or there has been through it” and that it’s unknown territory? It’s sparsely populated, but according to Wikipedia about 500k people live there, and they’re mostly in urban areas. Surely the lack of data is more down to the political disputes over who governs it? I’d imagine the locals are reluctant to share information with the Moroccan government who they see as the occupiers.

@FlyingSquid@lemmy.world avatar

Exactly. There are a few urban areas, a few tiny villages, and a lot of nothing but desert. We have satellite pictures of that desert, but that’s about it. You’re not going to have much data about who governs those areas at all, because they’re not really governed by anyone.

I’m not trying to diminish Morocco’s unwarranted pseudo-annexation of a sovereign nation, I’m saying there’s more than one element at play here.



Are you sure that something like that has happened? I have heard it the other way round (but I am not sure about my source either).

a sovereign nation

Was it one before?

  • All
  • Subscribed
  • Moderated
  • Favourites
  • nostupidquestions@lemmy.world
  • Mobpsycho100
  • rhentai
  • Islamabad
  • DreamBathrooms
  • exegypt
  • BeAmazed
  • Gonewildcouples
  • Radiomaster
  • plantedtank
  • QPR
  • silesia
  • Youngstown
  • jailbait
  • SlimeRancher
  • RealDayTrading
  • USExpatTaxes
  • askwomen
  • Babyfurs
  • slotface
  • LipsThatGrip
  • InstantRegret
  • Recollectr
  • onlyfansadvice
  • oldschoolgamer
  • LegendOfDragoon
  • TeamSpeak
  • Durango
  • osvaldo12
  • All magazines