Western Sahara

الصحراء الغربية
Al-Ṣaḥrā' al-Ġarbiyyah
Sáhara Occidental
Western Sahara
[[Image:{{{image_flag}}}|125px|Flag of Western Sahara]] [[Image:{{{image_coat}}}|85px|Coat of arms of Western Sahara]]
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: {{{national_anthem}}}
Capital N/A
Largest city El Aaiún
Official language Arabic
(Spanish also spoken)
Government Disputed territory1
 - Relinquished by Spain November 14 1975 
 - Total 266,000 km² (77th)
102,703 sq mi 
 - Water (%) negligible
 - Jul 2005 estimate 341,000 (177th)
 - Density 1.3/km² (228th)
3.4/sq mi
Currency Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Time zone UTC (UTC+0)
Internet TLD .ma2
Calling code +2123
1 Mostly administrated by Morocco as its Southern Provinces. The Polisario Front claims to control the area behind the border wall as the Free Zone on behalf of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
2De facto ".ma" is used. ".eh" is 'reserved'on behalf of the Polisario but not used.
3 Code for Morocco; no code specific to Western Sahara has been issued by the ITU.

Western Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الغربية; transliterated: al-Ṣaḥrā' al-Gharbīyah; Spanish: Sahara Occidental) is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly consisting of desert flatlands. It is a territory of northwestern Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The largest city is El Aaiún (Laâyoune), which is home to over a third of the population of the territory.

Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since the 1960s when it was a Spanish colony.

The Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front's Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) dispute control of the territory. Since a United Nations-sponsored cease-fire agreement in 1991, most of the territory has been administered by Morocco, the remainder by the SADR. The SADR is formally recognized by 45 states, and a full member of the African Union. Moroccan territorial integrity including Western Sahara has been supported by 25 states and the Arab League[1][2],.




This article is part of the series:
The Western Sahara conflict

Western Sahara

  • Spanish Sahara
  • Greater Morocco
  • Green March
  • Madrid Accords

  • ICJ Advisory Opinion
  • Settlement Plan
  • Houston Agreement
  • Baker Plan
  • Western Sahara Authority

  • Politics of Western Sahara

  • Morocco
  • Politics of Morocco
  • Southern Provinces
  • Moroccan Wall
  • Independence Intifada

  • Sahrawi Republic
  • Free Zone
  • Human rights in Western Sahara

  • Western Sahara portal


The earliest inhabitants of the Western Sahara in historical times were black agriculturalists called Bafour. Later they were to be replaced by the Berber population that still lives there. There may also have been some Phoenician contacts but with hardly any remaining influence.

The arrival of Islam in the 8th century played a major role in the development of relationships between Western Sahara and the neighbouring regions. Trade developed further and the region became a passage of caravans especially between Marrakech and Tombouctou in Mali. Soon Almoravids were able to control the area.

The Beni Hassan were the Arab bedouin tribes, that invaded the northern border-area of the Sahara in the 14th and 15th century. From them the Berbers took, over time, the Hassaniya language and a large part of their present cultural tradition.


Spanish province

During the first decade of the 20th century, after an agreement among the colonial powers at the Berlin Conference in 1884, Spain took possession of the Western Sahara and declared it to be a Spanish protectorate. As internal political and social pressures in mainland Spain built up towards the end of Francisco Franco's rule, and as an effect of the global trend in decolonization, Spain began rapidly and even chaotically divesting itself of most of its remaining colonial possessions. Spain planned to divest itself of the Sahara, and in 1974-75 issued promises of a referendum on independence. This had been demanded by the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi nationalist organization fighting the Spanish since 1973.

Morocco and Mauritania have had claims of sovereignty over the territory based on competing traditional claims, arguing that its was artificially separated from their territories by the European colonial powers. The third neighbour of Spanish Sahara, Algeria, viewed these demands with suspicion, influenced also by its long-running rivalry with Morocco. After arguing for a process of decolonization guided by the United Nations, the government of Houari Boumédiènne committed itself in 1975 to assisting the Polisario Front, which opposed both Moroccan and Mauritanian claims and demanded full independence.

The UN attempted to settle these disputes through a visiting mission in late 1975, as well as a verdict from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which declared that the Sahrawi people possessed the right of self-determination. On November 6 1975 the Green March into Western Sahara began when 350,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on the city of Tarfaya in southern Morocco and waited for a signal from King Hassan II of Morocco to cross into Western Sahara.


Demands for independence

After the death of Franco in November, the new Spanish government abandoned Western Sahara in December, repatriating even Spanish corpses from its cemeteries. Morocco then annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces, while Mauritania took the southern third as Tiris al-Gharbiyya. This however met staunch opposition from the Polisario, which had by now gained backing from Algeria and waged a guerrilla campaign. In 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal due to pressures from Polisario, Morocco extended its control to the rest of the territory, and gradually contained the guerrillas through setting up the Moroccan Wall. The war ended in a 1991 cease-fire, overseen by the peacekeeping mission MINURSO, under the terms of the UN's Settlement Plan.


Stalling of the independence referendum

The referendum, originally scheduled for 1992, was planned to give the indigenous population the option between independence or inclusion to Morocco. As of 2007, however, it has not taken place. At the heart of the dispute lies the question of who can be registered as an indigenous voter. In 1997, the Houston Agreement made another attempt to implement the referendum, but failed.

Both sides blame each other for the stalling of the referendum. The Polisario has insisted on allowing to vote only the persons found on the 1974 Spanish Sensus lists, while Morocco insisted on including all Sahrawi tribes that were part of Spanish Sahara a couple of decades earlier. Efforts by the UN special envoys to find a common ground for both parties did not succeed, and by 1999 the UN had identified about 90,000 voters most of them in the Moroccan administered parts of Western Sahara. By 2001, the process stalmated and the UN Secretary-General asked the parties for the first time to explore other third-way solutions. Indeed, shortly after the Houston Agreement, Morocco officially declared that it was "no longer necessary" to include an option of independence on the ballot, offering instead autonomy. Erik Jensen, who played an administrative role in MINURSO, wrote that neither side would agree to a voter registration in which they were destined to lose (see Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate).


Baker Plan

A United States-backed document known as the "Baker peace plan" was discussed by the United Nations Security Council in 2000, and envisioned a future Western Sahara Authority (WSA), to be followed after five years by the referendum. It was rejected by both sides, although it was initially derived from a Moroccan proposal. According to Baker's draft, tens of thousands of post-annexation immigrants from Morocco proper (viewed by Polisario as settlers, but by Morocco as legitimate inhabitants of the area) would be granted the vote in the Sahrawi independence referendum, and the ballot would be split three-ways by the inclusion of an unspecified "autonomy", further undermining the independence camp. Also, Morocco was allowed to keep its army in the area and to retain the control over all security issues during both the autonomy years and the election.

In 2003, a new version of the plan was made official, with some additions spelling out the powers of the WSA, making it less reliant on the Moroccan devolution. It also provided further detail on the referendum process in order to make it harder to stall or subvert. This second draft, commonly known as Baker II, was accepted by the Polisario as a "basis of negotiations" to the surprise of many.[3] This appeared to abandon Polisario's previous position of only negotiating based on the standards of voter identification from 1991. After that, the draft quickly garnered widespread international support, culminating in the UN Security Council's unanimous endorsement of the plan in the summer of 2003.


Western Sahara today

Today the Baker II document appears politically dead, with Baker having resigned his post at the UN in 2004. His resignation followed several months of failed attempts to get Morocco to enter into formal negotiations on the plan, but he met with rejection. The new king, Mohammed VI of Morocco, opposes the concept of a referendum on independence, and has said Morocco will never agree to one[citation needed]. At the same time, he supports, through his advising Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), a self-governing Western Sahara as an autonomous community within Morocco. His father, Hassan II of Morocco, initially supported the idea in principle in 1982, and in signed contracts in 1991 and 1997.

The UN has put forth no replacement strategy after the breakdown of Baker II, and renewed fighting may be a possibility. In 2005, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported increased military activity on both sides of the front and breaches of several cease-fire provisions against strengthening military fortifications.

Morocco has repeatedly tried to get Algeria into bilateral negotiations, receiving vocal support from France and occasionally (and currently) from the United States. These negotiations would define the exact limits of a Western Sahara autonomy under Moroccan rule, but only after Morocco's "inalienable right" to the territory was recognized as a precondition to the talks. The Algerian government has consistently refused, claiming it has neither the will nor the right to negotiate on the behalf of the Polisario Front.

Demonstrations and riots by supporters of independence and/or a referendum broke out in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara in May 2005, and were met by police. Several international human rights organizations have expressed concern at what they termed abuse by Moroccan security forces, and a number of Sahrawi activists have been jailed. Pro-independence Sahrawi sources, including the Polisario, have given these demonstrations the name "Independence Intifada", while sources supporting the Moroccan claims have attempted to minimize the events as being of limited importance. International press and other media coverage has been sparse, and reporting is complicated by the Moroccan government's policy of strictly controlling independent media coverage within the territory.

Sporadic demonstrations and protests were still occurring in late 2006, after Morocco declared in February that it was contemplating a plan for devolving a limited variant of autonomy to the territory, but still explicitly refused any referendum on independence[citation needed]. The Polisario Front has intermittently threatened to resume fighting, referring to the Moroccan refusal of a referendum as a breach of the cease-fire terms, but most observers seem to consider armed conflict unlikely without the green light and re-arming from Algeria.



Police checkpoint at suburbs of Laayoune.
Police checkpoint at suburbs of Laayoune.

The legal status of the territory and the question of its sovereignty remains unresolved; the territory is contested between Morocco and Polisario Front. It is considered a non self-governed territory by the United Nations.

The government of Morocco is a formally constitutional monarchy under Mohammed VI with a bicameral parliament. The last elections to the lower house were deemed reasonably free and fair by international observers, but the capacity to appoint the government, dissolve parliament and other powers, remains in the hands of the monarch. The Morocco-controlled parts of Western Sahara are divided into several provinces treated as integral parts of the kingdom. The Moroccan government heavily subsidizes the Saharan provinces under its control with cut-rate fuel and related subsidies, to appease nationalist dissent and attract immigrants - or settlers - from loyalist Sahrawi and other communities in Morocco proper.[4]

The exiled government of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a form of single-party parliamentary and presidential system, but according to its constitution, this will be changed into a multi-party system at the achievement of independence. It is presently based at the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, which it controls. It also claims to control the part of Western Sahara to the east of the Moroccan Wall, as the Free Zone. This area is more or less unpopulated and the Morrocan government views it as a no-man's land patrolled by UN troops.


Human rights

The Western Sahara conflict has resulted in severe human rights abuses, most notably the displacement of tens of thousands of Sahrawi civilians from the country, the forced expropriation and expulsion of tens of thousands of Moroccan civilians by the Algerian government from Algeria[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] as well as violations of human rights and serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions by the Polisario Front and Algerian government.[13]

Both Morocco and the Polisario accuse each other of violating the human rights of the populations under their control, in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, respectively. Morocco and organisations such as France Libertés consider Algeria to be directly responsible for any crimes committed on its territory, and accuse the country of having been directly involved in such violations.[14][13]

Morocco has been repeatedly criticised by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International[1][2][3], Human Rights Watch[4][5] and the World Organization Against Torture[6][7][8], Freedom House[9], Reporters Without Borders[10], the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[11] for its actions in Western Sahara.

Polisario has received criticism from the French organization France Libertes on its treatment of Moroccan prisoners-of-war[15], and on its general behaviour in the Tindouf refugee camps in reports by the Belgian organization ESISC, or European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.[16][17][18]. A number of former Polisario officials who have defected to Morocco accuse the organisation of abuse of human rights and sequestration of the population in Tindouf [19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26].

During the war (1975-91), both sides accused each other of targeting civilians. Moroccan claims of Polisario terrorism has generally little to no support abroad, with the USA, EU and UN all refusing to include the group on their lists of terrorist organizations. Polisario leaders maintain that they are ideologically opposed to terrorism, and insist that collective punishment and forced disappearances among Sahrawi civilians[12] should be considered state terrorism on the part of Morocco[13].


Administrative division

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Currently, Western Sahara is largely administered by Morocco. The extent of Morocco's administration is north and west of the border wall, approximately two-thirds of the territory. The official Moroccan government name for Western Sahara is the "Southern Provinces", which indicates Río de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra. When the territory was a Spanish protectorate, the same subdivision existed.

Not under control of the Moroccan government is the area that lies between the border wall and the actual border with Algeria. (for map [14] see external links) The Polisario Front claims to run this as the Free Zone on behalf of the SADR. The area is patrolled by Polisario forces [27], and access is restricted, even among Sahrawis, due to the harsh climate of the Sahara, the military conflict and the abundance of land mines.[28] Still, the area is traveled and inhabited by many Sahrawi nomads from the Tindouf refugee camps of Algeria and the Sahrawi communities in Mauritania.[citation needed] Both Morrocan and United Nations MINURSO forces are also present in the area. The UN forces oversee the cease-fire between Polisario and Morocco agreed upon in the 1991. Settlement Plan.[29].

The Polisario forces (of the Sahrawi People's Liberation Army, SPLA) in the area are divided into seven "military regions", each controlled by a top commander reporting to the President of the Polisario proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic[30] [Not in citation given]. The total size of the Polisario's guerrilla army present in this area is unknown, but it is believed to number a few thousand men, despite many combantants being demobilized due to the cease-fire[31]. These forces are dug into permanent positions, such as gun emplacements, defensive trenches and underground military bases, as well as conducting mobile patrols of the territory.[32] [Not in citation given]

Major Sahrawi political events, such as Polisario congresses and sessions of the Sahrawi National Council (the SADR parliament in exile) are held in the Free Zone (especially in Tifariti and Bir Lehlou), since it is considered politically and symbolically important to conduct political affairs on Sahrawi territory. A concentration of forces for the commemoration of the Saharawi Republic’s 30th anniversary [33] were however subject to condemnation by the United Nations[34], as it was considered an example of a cease-fire violation to bring such a large force concentration into the area. Both parties have been accused of such violations by the UN, but to date there has been no serious hostile action from either side since 1991.

Annual demonstrations against the Moroccan Wall are staged in the region by Sahrawis and international activists from Spain, Italy and other mainly European countries. These actions are closely monitored by the UN.[35][Not in citation given]

Tifariti, 2005
Tifariti, 2005

During the joint Moroccan-Mauritanian control of the area, the Mauritanian-controlled part, roughly corresponding to Saquia el-Hamra, was known as Tiris al-Gharbiyya.


External links

United Nations (Map):



NASA photo of El Aaiún.
NASA photo of El Aaiún.
Satellite image of Western Sahara, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Western Sahara, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library

Western Sahara is located in Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco. It also borders Algeria to the northeast. The land is some of the most arid and inhospitable on the planet, but is rich in phosphates in Bou Craa.



Aside from its rich phosphate deposits and fishing waters, Western Sahara has few natural resources and lacks sufficient rainfall for most agricultural activities. There is speculation that there may be rich off-shore oil and natural gas fields, but the debate persists as to whether these resources can be profitably exploited, and if this would be legally permitted due to the non-decolonized status of Western Sahara (see below).

Western Sahara's economy is centred around nomadic herding, fishing, and phosphate mining. Most food for the urban population is imported. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan government. The government has encouraged citizens to relocate to the territory by giving subsidies and price controls on basic goods. These heavy subsidies have created a state-dominated economy in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara, with the Moroccan government as the single biggest employer.


Exploitation debate

After reasonably exploitable oil fields were located in neighbouring Mauritania, speculation intensified on the possibility of major oil resources being located off the coast of Western Sahara. Despite the fact that findings remain inconclusive, both Morocco and the Polisario have made deals with oil and gas exploration companies. US and French companies (notably Total and Kerr-McGee) began prospecting on behalf of Morocco.

In 2002, Hans Corell, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and head of its Office of Legal Affairs issued a legal opinion [36] on the matter. This opinion stated that while exploration of the area was permitted, exploitation was not, on the basis that Morocco is not a recognized administrative power of the territory, and thus lacks the capacity to issue such licenses. After pressures from corporate ethics-groups, Total S.A. pulled out.

In May 2006 the remaining company Kerr-McGee also left following sales of numerous share holders like the National Norwegian Oil Fund, due to continued pressure from NGOs and corporate groups.

Despite the UN report and the development regarding the exploration of oil, the European Union wants to exploit fishing resources in waters outside Western Sahara and has signed a fishing treaty with Morocco.



The indigenous population of Western Sahara is known as Sahrawis. These are Hassaniya-speaking tribes of mixed Arab-Berber heritage, effectively continuations of the tribal groupings of Hassaniya speaking Moorish tribes extending south into Mauritania and north into Morocco as well as east into Algeria. The Sahrawis are traditionally nomadic bedouins, and can be found in all surrounding countries. War and conflict has lead to major displacements of the population.

As of July 2004, an estimated 267,405 people (excluding the Moroccan army of some 160,000) live in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara. Morocco has engaged in "Moroccanization" of the area, bringing in large numbers of settlers in anticipation of a UN-administered referendum on independence. While many of them are from Sahrawi tribal groups extending up into southern Morocco, some are also non-Sahrawi Moroccans from other regions. The settler population is today thought to outnumber the indigenous Western Sahara Sahrawis. The precise size and composition of the population is subject to political controversy.

The Polisario-controlled parts of Western Sahara are barren and have no resident population, but they are travelled by small numbers of Sahrawis herding camels, going back and forth between the Tindouf area and Mauritania. However, the presence of mines scattered throughout the territory by both the Polisario and the Moroccan army makes it a dangerous way of life.


The Spanish census and MINURSO

A 1974 Spanish census claimed there were some 74,000 Sahrawis in the area at the time (in addition to approximately 20,000 Spanish residents), but this number is likely to be on the low side, due to the difficulty in counting a nomad people.

In December of 1999 the United Nations' MINURSO mission announced that it had identified 86,425 eligible voters for the referendum that was supposed to be held under the 1991 Settlement agreement and the 1997 Houston accords. By "eligible voter" the UN referred to any Sahrawi over 18 years of age that was part of the Spanish census or could prove his/her descent from someone who was. These 86,425 Sahrawis were dispersed between Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and the refugee camps in Algeria, as well as smaller numbers in Mauritania and other places of exile. These numbers cover only Sahrawis 'indigenous' to the Western Sahara during the Spanish colonial period, not the total number of "ethnic" Sahrawis (i.e, members of Sahrawi tribal groupings). The number was highly politically significant due to the expected organization of a referendum on self-determination.

Ironically, many of the independence-minded militants in Western Sahara are Sahrawis from the town of Assa, in the undisputed Moroccan Saharan South, that don't fit in the above mentionned definition.

The Polisario has its home base in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria, and declares the number of Sahrawi population in the camps to be approximately 155,000. Morocco disputes this number, saying it is exaggerated for political reasons and for attracting more foreign aid. The UN takes into consideration the number of around 90,000 "most vulnerable" refugees as basis for its food aid program.



The major ethnic group of the Western Sahara are the Sahrawis, a nomadic or Bedouin tribal or ethnic group speaking Ḥassānīya dialect of Arabic, also spoken in much of Mauritania. They are of mixed Arab-Berber descent, but claim descent from the Beni Hassan, a Yemeni tribe supposed to have migrated across the desert in the 11th century.

Physically indistinguishable from the Hassaniya speaking Moors of Mauritania, the Sahrawi people differ from their neighbors partly due to different tribal affiliations (as tribal confederations cut across present modern boundaries) and partly as a consequence of their exposure to Spanish colonial domination. Surrounding territories were generally under French colonial rule.

Like other neighboring Saharan Bedouin and Hassaniya groups, the Sahrawis are Muslims of the Sunni sect and the Maliki law school. Local religious custom 'urf is, like other Saharan groups, heavily influenced by pre-Islamic Berber and African practices, and differs substantially from urban practices. For example, Sahrawi Islam has traditionally functioned without mosques in the normal sense of the word, in an adaptation to nomadic life.

The originally clan- and tribe-based society underwent a massive social upheaval in 1975, when a part of the population was forced into exile and settled in the refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria. Families were broken up by the fight. For developments among this population, see Sahrawi and Tindouf Province.

The Moroccan government considerably invested in the social and economic development of the Moroccan controlled Western Sahara with special emphasis on education, modernisation and infrastructure. El-Aaiun in particular has been the target of heavy government investment, and has grown rapidly. Several thousand Sahrawis study in Moroccan universities. Literacy rates are appreciated at some 50% of the population.

To date, there have been few thorough studies of the culture due in part to the political situation. Some language and culture studies, mainly by French researchers, have been performed on Sahrawi communities in northern Mauritania.


See also


Notes and references

Cited references

  1. Arab League supports Morocco's Territorial Integrity, Arabic News, Morocco-Regional, Politics, January 8, 1999. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  2. Arab League Withdraws Inaccurate Moroccan maps, Arabic News, Regional-Morocco, Politics, December 17, 1998. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  3. Shelley, Toby. Behind the Baker Plan for Western Sahara, Middle East Report Online, August 1, 2003. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  4. Thobhani, Akbarali. Western Sahara Since 1975 Under Moroccan Administration: Social, Economic, and Political Transformation (in English). Edwin Mellen Press. 0773471731.
  5. [http://www.telquel-online.com/189/couverture_189_1.shtml Maroc/Algérie. Bluff et petites manœuvres], Telquel, not in English
  6. Aljazeera.net, not in English
  7. La "Répudiation massive" de l’Algérie des colonels! La Gazette Du Maroc, February 28, 2005, not in English
  8. Jugement Dernier, Maroc Hebdo International, not in English
  9. Le Drame des 40.000, cinemanageria.ifrance.com, not in English
  10. Mohamed ELYAZGHI au Matin du Sahara: Solution politique au Sahara et refondation de nos relations avec Alger, USFP, not in English
  11. La mal-vie des Marocains d'Algérie, Minorités.org
  12. Revue de Presse des Quotidiens
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Conditions of Detentions of the Moroccan POWs Detained in Tindouf (Algeria), France Libertés, International Mission of Inquiry, April 11-25, 2003
  14. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/040929/2004092916.html Morocco's Memorandum to UN unveils Algiers' responsibility in Sahara conflict, political parties], Arabic News, Morocco-Algeria, Politics, September 29, 2004
  15. The Conditions of Detentions of the Moroccan POWs Detained in Tindouf (Algeria)
  16. The Polisario Front – Credible Negotiations Partner or After Effect of the Cold War and Obstacle to a Political Solution in Western Sahara?
  17. Report of an independent Committee of inquiry into allegations of violations of Human Rights against the Polisario Front
  19. Gajmoula Ebbi raconte son aventure avec le Polisario, ses rêves, son calvaire et ses attentes (4)
  20. Gajmoula Ebbi raconte son aventure avec le Polisario, ses rêves, son calvaire et ses attentes (5)
  21. Guerre de clans et scission inévitable à Tindouf, selon trois ex-responsables du Polisario ayant regagné le Maroc
  22. Les geôliers de Tindouf mis à nu
  23. Polisario leadership lives in wealth to detriment of camps' populations, former Polisario member
  25. Report: Clan wars and unavoidable scission in Tindouf, defectors
  26. Mustapha Bouh, ex-membre du Bureau politique : «L¹histoire du «Polisario» est jalonnée de purges impitoyables»
  27. http://www.newint.org/issue297/wall.html "Up Against the Wall", Chris Brazier, New Internationalist Magazine (297), December 1998 [please verify the credibility of this source]
  28. Landmine Action UK undertook preliminary survey work by visiting the Polisario-controlled area of Western Sahara in October 2005 and February-March 2006. A field assessment in the vicinity of Bir Lahlou, Tifariti and the berms revealed that the densest concentrations of mines are in front of the berms. Mines were laid in zigzags up to one meter apart, and in some parts of the berms, there are three rows of mines.[15] There are also berms in the Moroccan-controlled zone, around Dakhla and stretching from Boujdour, including Smara on the Moroccan border.[16] However, mine-laying was not restricted to the vicinity of the berms; occupied settlements throughout the Polisario-controlled areas, such as Bir Lahlou and Tifariti, are ringed by mines laid by Moroccan forces.
  29. http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/minurso/mandate.html MINURSO homepage - mandate Accessed May 21, 2006
  30. http://www.arso.org/bhatia2001.htm Western Sahara under Polisario Control: Summary Report of Field Mission to the Sahrawi Refugee Camps (near Tindouf, Algeria) by Michael Bhatia, 2001 [please verify the credibility of this source]
  31. http://www.spsrasd.info/sps-e270206.html Commemoration of the Saharawi Republic’s 30th anniversary in liberated territories of Western Sahara Sahara Press Service, February 27, 2006 [please verify the credibility of this source]
  32. http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=S/2006/249 Secretary General's report to Security Council on Western Sahara , 19 April 2006
  33. http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=S/2006/249 Secretary General's report to Security Council on Western Sahara , 19 April 2006 (pdf file)
  34. Letter dated 29 January 2002 from the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, the Legal Counsel, addressed to the President of the Security Council United Nations Security Council, S/2002/161, 12 February 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2006.

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