Western Sahara Hostilities: Aggressive Economy at Risk

The Moroccan army has come under attack in Western Sahara, a disputed territory it has occupied since 1975. They are in conflict with the armed wing of the Polisario Front, the country's national liberation organization.

By the end of 2023, the wars had intensified. After the visit of US Ambassador Joshua Harris to the region. The Sahrawis believe they are being excluded from any solution to the conflict, and the United States and Europe consider the occupation of Morocco already complete.

The Polisario will try to draw attention to their plight by harassing leading Moroccan military units. This would endanger economic activity in the occupied territory, which is relevant for Europe.

Small, mobile Sahrawi units often launch rockets at the frontline. Some of the attacks were concentrated on Moroccan military positions Mahbez And Smara, cities north of Western Sahara in the so-called „useful triangle”. Includes images provided by the Polisario Front Soviet-era self-propelled artillery.

The name „Beneficial Triangle” in Morocco comes from the highly populated area and concentration of manufacturing industries. The region is rich in phosphates, iron and fisheries. Morocco is also developing wind and solar power industries in the region.

The Moroccan military has also retaliated by using drones to attack Sahrawis across the desert. Polisario Front says Drones kill four Mauritanian civilians Two more were injured this year. They would be laborers on their way to a mine.

„In this part of the Sahara desert, there are really no boundaries, it's open land,” says Qaisi Na. Sahrawi Mining Operations Coordination OfficeWestern Sahara, the region between Mauritania and Algeria.

“It is true that Sahrawi military units are moving in this area, but civilians are also traveling or carrying goods. Moroccan drones target Mauritanians, Algerians and other nationalities just like us Documenting in detail From our office. The latest happened on January 5Th.”


What is escalation?

An increase in Western Sahara would have far-reaching economic implications, especially if the „triangle of utility” is targeted. Already, NLM vandalism has disrupted phosphate and iron ore mining.

Also, Morocco is working to build large renewable plants, mostly for wind and solar, to export energy to Europe. Its power grid is connected to Spain under the Strait of Gibraltar and thus to most of the European Union.

Renewables are produced to personally benefit Morocco's ruler, King Mohammed VI, from the power company. NarevaOwned by him and the royal family through the holding company Al Mada.

Beyond electricity production, the risk of war—or conflict—may also affect the positions of foreign companies involved in occupied territories. European companies Siemens and Enels are involved in the installation and maintenance of wind farms for Nareva.

Various activist organizations have condemned the exploitation of natural resources in the occupied territories. Western Sahara is not for sale And this Western Sahara Resource Monitor. EU courts ruled that goods from the disputed land could not be considered Moroccan.

In 2018, Maersk has stopped shipping phosphates from occupied territory. In 2020, Swedish mining equipment company Epirock announced it The Bou Craa phosphate mine can no longer be served, which is in Western Sahara but operated by Morocco. Others may follow suit over time.


Why is the feud starting again?

Western Sahara is a „region in process of decolonization” according to the UN. It was a Spanish colony until 1975, but instead of becoming independent it was occupied by Morocco – and for a short period between 1975 and 1979, the southern third was controlled by Mauritania.

Rabat claims Western Sahara as its own, although only the US and Israel have recognized its sovereignty since 2020. that year, The three struck a deal As part of the Trump administration's „Abraham Accords.”

A government led by the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), is recognized. 84 Govts and the African Union are the legitimate rulers of the territory. However, they only control part of it, and half of the Sahrawi population lives in refugee camps in Algeria. It is near the Algerian city of Tintouf, where the government-in-exile is headquartered.

As 2024 begins, Sahrawi military units have launched attacks on and into Morocco.Perm”, a 1,700-mile (2,700km) long defensive construction encircled part of the occupied territory.

These clashes are the first since November 2020. Before that, since 1991, both Morocco and the Polisario Front had pledged a ceasefire until a mutually satisfactory political solution was found.

Rabat rejected any proposal to grant self-determination: three referendums did not take place due to their veto, meaning „Baker project”, named after James Baker, who became the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.

„Morocco has been blocking the referendum for three decades,” he said John Bolton, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump. He worked for Baker at the State Department and the UN to resolve the Western Sahara conflict.

Even Morocco A referendum rejected the plans Its citizens settling in the area would be allowed to vote: it would question land claims or allow democratic surprises under an autocratic monarchy.

At the end of 2020, Morocco was emboldened by the Trump administration to cross the cease-fire line, occupies an additional area to connect with the coast of Mauritania. This caused conflicts in Perm, although it did not escalate further.

The main danger is that the new generation of Sahrawis see no hope after more than 30 years of humiliating peace. They may live as second-class citizens under occupation or live in impoverished refugee camps. Many have chosen to emigrate, while others believe that resuming hostilities is their only option.

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