PRAGUE, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The United States and Europe should worry that the conflict over the Western Sahara is souring relations between Morocco and Algeria and preventing them from joining forces to work together against Islamist violence and extremism. As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recently warned, the ongoing conflict in Mali threatens to spill over into the Western Sahara, whereby there is a possibility of infiltration by foreign militant groups in this region. The recent U.S. policies to the Western Sahara and rising security risks for both the U.S. and EU stemming from the unresolved dispute over the territory are analyzed by an international expert team comprising Dustin Dehez (Global Governance Institute), Dr. Alex MacKenzie (University of Salford) and Dr. Daniel Novotny (Global Europe) in a newly released briefing paper entitled "United States' U.N. Proposal and Policy on Western Sahara: A Dead-End?".
In late April 2013, the "U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara" (MINURSO), a not much noticed United Nations' peacekeeping mission in the disputed territory of the Western Sahara, was extended by the U.N. Security Council for another year after Washington practically abandoned its highly controversial proposal that called for an expansion of the U.N. mission's mandate to include human rights monitoring. According to the briefing paper, it is hard to see what tangible and long-term benefits such as U.S. proposal would have brought to the United States, Morocco, and the Maghreb region in general, if the U.S. had been successful in their effort to get its draft resolution through. Most importantly, it questions if a new, amended mandate for the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) would have unfreezed this protracted conflict or fostered its resolution.
In the context of the deep-rooted mistrust between Morocco on the one hand and Algeria and the Polisario Front on the other, the expansion of the U.N. mandate to include monitoring and reporting mechanism concerning real or alleged human rights violations would ultimately run against the main underlying objective of the U.N. mission - to design and implement confidence building measures. Had the U.S. proposal found its way into the U.N. resolution, it is easy to envision an endless chain of mutual accusations of human rights abuses by both Morocco and the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria - a scenario that would hardly serve as a good example of an effective confidence-building strategy.
The U.S. proposal was all the more surprising as the terrorist threat is endangering the region more than ever. The Malian crisis is but an instance of what extremists and terrorists can do, when central power is weakened and the army is disorganized. Mali also provides additional evidence, if need be, that a weak state can easily descend into civil war and become a breeding ground for terrorism. Moreover, the fall of the former Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi and the ensuing instability in this other North African country has clearly demonstrated how a political vacuum can engender dangerous processes that can in turn destabilise a wider region.
The paper further elaborates on the prospects for progress on the Western Sahara - one of the most divisive and hotly contested issues on the geopolitical landscape of North Africa that has already been going on for over 30 years. Since 1994, the border between Morocco and Algeria remains closed, hampering all efforts to foster economic and security cooperation between the two countries and in the region in general. With the negotiations stalemated, this situation generates an overall atmosphere of instability with dire effects on the economic prospects for the whole Maghreb. The briefing paper argues that the protracted conflict in the Western Sahara should draw renewed attention from both Washington and Brussels as the disaffected Sahrawi population is losing patience and radical elements could further destabilise North Africa.
The briefing paper "United States' U.N. Proposal and Policy on Western Sahara: A Dead-End?" provides a unique and complex analysis of the recent developments in the Western Sahara from the European perspective. The full version of the briefing paper published by Global Europe is available at: http://www.global-europe.org/detail-articles.php?articles=0000000045
Global Europe is an independent, not-for-profit think tank whose mission is to stimulate independent thinking on European Union's external affairs. We organize international conferences, workshops and seminars, promote international research collaboration and publish highly readable briefing papers, policy briefs and commentaries that aim to stimulate the much needed debate on different policy-security challenges facing Europe. Global Europe is committed to presenting a diversity of voices and ideas both from within and outside of Europe with the aim of achieving a balanced dialogue between different stakeholders and constituencies.
SOURCE Global Europe