Portal:Western Sahara

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The Western Sahara Portal – بوابة الجمهورية العربية الديمقراطية الصحراوية

Coat of Arms of the Sahrawi Republic
Sahrawi flag
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic-controlled areas ("Free Zone")
A map of Western Sahara

Western Sahara is the name of a disputed region in northwest Africa. The legal status of the territory and the issue of sovereignty are unresolved; the territory is contested by Morocco and the Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro), which in February 1976 formally formed a government-in-exile of what it refers to as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). The Polisario views the SADR as incorporating the entire territory of Western Sahara, referring to the region controlled by Morocco as the "Occupied Territories" and the remainder, of which it claims control, as the free zone. Morocco also claims the entire territory, which it refers to as its "Southern Provinces". The Moroccan government refers to the Polisario controlled regions as its "buffer zone", claiming these regions as part of Moroccan territory. On the ground the Moroccan controlled zones are physically protected by a series of defensive works constructed by the Moroccan armed forces and manned by an estimate 160,000 Moroccan troops. It is estimated that several thousand Polisario troops are present in the area behind the Moroccan Wall of defense, which they regularly enter. Troop movements of Polisario are regularly subject to severe condemnations by the UN. The government-in-exile of the self-proclaimed SADR is headquartered in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the vicinity of the town of Tindouf in Algeria, situated close to the Algeria-Western Sahara border.

Western Sahara was appropriated by Spain at the Berlin Conference in 1884 along with other provinces that were returned to Morocco (Sidi Ifni and Tarfaya). After the colonial era the Polisario Front has fought guerrilla war against Morocco, and Mauritania for independence of Western Sahara. The war ended in a 1991 UN-brokered cease-fire; a UN-organized referendum on final status has been repeatedly postponed. Today, 50 states, mainly from Africa and Latin America, recognize the SADR as the legitimate government in Western Sahara. It is a member of the African Union, but not the United Nations nor the Arab League. Morocco is considered by the UN and many other countries as the administrative power of Western Sahara, though they don't recognize its sovereignty over it. Several thousand Sahrawis live in refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطيةal-Jumhūrīyah al-‘Arabīyah aṣ-Ṣaḥrāwīyah ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah, Spanish: República Árabe Saharaui Democrática) is a partially recognized state that controls a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara region and claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara. The SADR government controls about 20–25% of the territory it claims.[1] It calls the territories under its control the Liberated Territories or the Free Zone. Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces. The SADR government considers the Moroccan-held territory to be occupied territory, while Morocco considers the much smaller SADR-held territory to be a buffer zone.

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Location of Western Sahara in North Africa

The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Arabic: بعثة الأمم المتحدة لتنظيم استفتاء في الصحراء الغربية‎; French: Mission des Nations Unies pour l'Organisation d'un Référendum au Sahara Occidental; Spanish: Misión de las Naciones Unidas para la Organización de un Referéndum en el Sáhara Occidental; MINURSO) is the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, established in 1991 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 as part of the Settlement Plan, which had paved way for a cease-fire in the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front (representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) over the contested territory of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).

MINURSO's mission was to monitor the cease-fire and to organize and conduct a referendum in accordance with the Settlement Plan, which would enable the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara to choose between integration with Morocco and independence. This was intended to constitute a Sahrawi exercise of self-determination, and thus complete Western Sahara's still-unfinished process of decolonization (Western Sahara is the last major territory remaining on the UN's list of non-decolonized territories.) Read more...

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  • ...that Bou Craa has the longest conveyor belt in the world?

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