IRIN | Western Sahara’s moment in the sun

Part of the problem is that it’s an easy place for major powers to ignore. “Looked at from Washington, Morocco and Algeria fighting over the Western Sahara is like two bald men fighting over a comb,” said Ottoway.It’s true that the conflict is usually low in intensity. But there are occasional flare-ups: at least five people were killed in 2010 when Moroccan security forces broke up a Saharawi protest camp.From another perspective, Western Sahara is left on the sidelines not because it is small and remote, but because it has in fact become a pawn in global politics.As Jacob Mundy, an assistant professor at Colgate University and an expert on the conflict pointed out, Morocco has positioned itself as a key ally of Saudi Arabia and the West in North Africa, sharing intelligence with the United States and even playing host to at least one of the CIA’s controversial black sites. This brings the US closely into line with France, already staunchly on Morocco’s in the dispute.“Anytime Morocco is feeling the pressure on Western Sahara, they probably find ways of making themselves very useful to the United States,” Mundy explained.On Algeria’s side, three current UN Security Council members have officially recognised the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Polisario Front’s government-in-exile: Angola, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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