Case for Moroccan Sahara and the ICJ

5 The Case for Moroccan Sahara and the ICJ Because of Algeria’s objection to Moroccan reuniting with the Western Sahara, King Hassan II took the initiative to engage in a diplomatic mission and moved swiftly to prove to the world the Kingdom’s historical right.

Morocco, through the UN, sought an opinion from the ICJ and the authorities provided all documents confirming Moroccan sovereignty over the Southern Regions for centuries. There is ample evidence of the allegiance of the Sahraoui population to their respective sovereigns in Morocco and in their engagement with the rest of the Moroccan Liberation Army to free Sidi Ifni, Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro. These documents include the traditional Bay’a established first by the Awraba Amazigh Tribe to the Imam Idris I, who married Kenza, the daughter of the Awraba Prince. The mixed Amazigh-Arab dynasty ruled parts of the country from 788 to 985 sharing power with the Imazighen Lords of Morocco, one dealing with spiritual guidance on Chi’a principles, the other with temporal and military art with which to rule and conquer. So the Sahara is in fact the origin of the birth place of Morocco as a nation-state, whether dating back to Idris I and his Awraba Wife Kenza or Her son Idris II or grandson Mohammed who created, with the advice of his Amazigh grandmother, the first federal state system in the world dividing the kingdom into 12 regions and which King Mohammed VI revived in the local and regional elections of 2015, as set down by the 2011 Constitution. In addition and to complete el Bay’a, Friday prayers and religious ceremonies were also celebrated in the name of the Grand Imam the Sultan or the Commander of the Faithful. The Royal Mint produced coins of the sultans being represented on the coinage in Morocco and were circulated throughout the empire bearing the image of their Monarch. Morocco has always felt in its Sahara and the Sahara in its Morocco, or as Hassan Alaoui writes, «Ce n’est pas l’effet d’une vision ou d’une allégorie, mais le Maroc tire ses origines, dira-t-on, du Sahara parce que, des siècles durant, ces provinces ont constitué le prolongement de sa vocation africaine que le colonialisme a baptisé empire chérifien avant de le battre en brèche. L’anachronisme qu’a constitué l’occupation espagnole du Sahara n’avait d’égale qu’une volonté de maintenir cahin-caha un empire en Afrique pour faire contrepoids à la France, au Portugal et à l’Angleterre» . King Mohammed VI confirms this reality in the strongest terms in his speeches addressed particularly to the Algerians, the Polisario and their supporters when he said, “Morocco will remain in its Sahara, and the Sahara will remain part of Morocco, until the end of time.”


The unification of Morocco which ended the Arab Sunni Caliphate or Chi’a Imamate started in the Sahara when the Almoravid Sanhaja Imazighen chased out the Chi’a Arabs and created a Sunni-Maliki Moroccan Amazigh Empire that extended its rule to many regions of Africa and el Andalus, today’s Spain and the Zenata Almoravids consolidated their achievement when they succeeded them in the XIth century . Furthermore, under the first Alaoui reign of Moulay Ismail (14 April 1672 – 22 March 1727), the Moroccan empire remained strong in its Sahara and extended from the Moulouya River in the North East, and with the help of units from the Tekna Sahraoui tribal confederation of Lamta Sanhaja Amazigh reached Timbuctoo in Mali and Dakar in Senegal. Ever since this campaign, the black Africans integrated Moulay Ismail’s army and were selected to form the first Moroccan Royal Guards and still part of the Royal Palace today. In 1880, Hassan I ruled the empire from Tangier to Timbuktu, putting Western Sahara and Mauritania in the heart of his Empire, going further east to control all of the Algerian Sahara to the Sudanese Mali territories. His empire was under threat when European colonialism and the policy of divergence, started to take strong action against humanity starting with the various Berlin Conferences from 1881 to 1885, followed by 1906 Algeciras Conference which the later sealed the fate of an Independent Morocco turning it into a Protectorate Administration. This was reminiscent of the Entente Cordiale of 8 April 1904 which marked the end of the French-British conflicts that dates from at least Napoleon’s presence in Egypt. Its consequence resulted in the Pyke-Sykes Accords secretly signed on

16 May 1916 which was designed to divide for ever the Levant of today’s conflicts. The Europeans increased their aggressions in the Middle East and Africa when Morocco was well embedded in its Sahara. These points clearly demonstrate that Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara is historical, continuous and form an indivisible part of the whole. The Sahraoui Imazighen are the founders and consolidators of the Moroccan Empires throughout the history of Tamazgha, the original inhabitants of North Africa and the Sahel regions extending from Mauritania on the Atlantic to the Sudan on the Red Sea, spreading north to Egypt, covering thus all of North Africa including the Sahel regions which are part and parcel of this history. The Imazighen of North Africa including the Sahel, epitomise the early sedentarisation of Humanity that started some 10 000 years ago, making them culturally contemporary to Anatolia, Sumer and Egypt forming together the first world Civilisation we see today, but ironically hijacked and turned upside down to be called, by some short sighted scholars still living in colonial past history, as ‘Western Civilisation’ . In addition, there are many other documents as the ones signed with Spain or the United Kingdom when Morocco paid a compensation to the British to free its territory occupied by Mackenzie , or the many wars fought in the region over the centuries to the most modern of ‘Operation Ecouvillon-Ouragan’, involving a coalition of the French and the Spaniards fighting against the Moroccan and Sahraoui Liberation Army (MLA) in 1958 . It is also worth mentioning that had the MLA received the support it needed from Rabat at the time, just as had Abdelkrim received the support he needed from central Morocco, Moroccan independence would have been achieved in 1920s and the question of Western Sahara would not be discussed today and would have ended there and then. This may be a pure speculation but with a lot of reasons to believe it.  The other main mistake was made when the Moroccans negotiated the independence of half Morocco in the 1950s and not all of it, as Algeria later did with France over the ‘Sahara Français’ . The Istiqlal and other leaders were eager to get into power, just as a ‘Communist PPS’ headed by Benabdellah, eager to retain his lucrative ministry of housing got to bed with an Islamist fascist and Zionist party, showing their real fight about who should head such ministry of a useful Morocco and rip the benefits by exchanging one colonial rule by another, as explained by Frantz Fanon in his famous theory of violence or the reverse theory on colonialism and neo-colonialism, rather than securing the integrity of Historical Morocco. ‘In fact colonialism did not end immediately but just got transferred as, Frantz Fanon maintains, “National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood,

commonwealth: whatever may be the headings used of the new formulas introduced, decolonisation is always a violent phenomenon. At whatever level we study it – relationships between individuals, new name for sports clubs, the human admixture at cocktail parties, in the police, on the directing boards of national or private banks – decolonisation is quite simply the replacing of a certain “species” of men by another “species” of men.

Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and absolute substitution.”’  ‘Whereas Ben Barka based his concept of neo-colonialism on the continued colonial policies in the Third World after gaining independence. People had a very rudimentary notion of it, thinking that once foreign troops left the barracks, colonialism ended. Unlike Fanon in inverse theory of colonialism, Ben Barka believed, in fact, that real independence required a struggle for economic, social and cultural independence . This was no different to what Emile Roche, a French radical in support of French colonialism wrote in 1955 claiming that an independent state should be able to manage its own economic affairs as well as be able to balance its resources with its needs, but never specified when and who should determine the right time and conditions.  However, Abdelkrim Khatabi, the exiled President of the Rif Republic, condemned completely the negotiations that have taken place and opted for a total defeat of France if fought on all

sides: from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco to Mauritania. This would have paralysed and defeated the coloniser, shortened the war in Algeria and saved many lives that were lost there, thus unifying the Maghreb in one Amazigh nation. He considered that one unified action involving the Amazigh Maghreb

(Tamazgha) with the Arab Mashreq to include the rest of the so-called Arab League and Arab Nationalist Aspirations would achieve liberation. But the fact was that there are no Arabs and even el Hijaz and Nejd opted to be referred to as Saudi, and Islam itself left that country and moved to Sumer Abbasid Baghdad and Assyrian Omayyad Damascus, before they all vanished under the Ottomans in 1517. With this possible union, Abdelkrim predicted that France would have been defeated in Tamazgha and the Middle East, just as it was defeated in Indochina or in the Suez crisis few months later. Because of Fassi converts and their self-interest before national interest, Abdelkrim refused to return to Morocco and left instructions not to be buried there and when he died on 6 February 1963, his wishes were respected and his body is still in Egypt, where he felt, as a pure Amazigh, totally free.


It was only when the Istiqlal Party was marginalised after the adoption of the first Moroccan Constitution in 1962 and Allal el Fassi (IP) failed to share power with the King with his imported neo-Salafism from Egypt linked to the political Concept of “Arabness” that he started to act. He embarked at promoting Arabic which is only a skin-deep and seen as a foreign language by the majority of the original inhabitants of Morocco. As we have seen, even the Arabs of Saudi Arabia refuse to call themselves Arabs but Saudis. The Arab concept did not reflect the inspiration of the Amazigh people or promote their culture and political power sharing, or for that matter the Hijaz and Nejd who consider themselves Saudis and not ‘Arabs’. In addition, they rejected the Hanbali School that was originally accepted and followed in the Arab Kingdom of el Hijaz and Nejd until the country became the property of Ibn Saud family and opted for a new Wahhabi school which was not part of the original Four Sunni Schools. El Fassi, a converted Iberian Christian to Islam, was against restoring the legitimate rights of the Original inhabitants to have access to their language Amazigh, set against multi-party systems in Morocco and became a thorn to other more liberal parties receiving the attention of the King and devised schemes to secure favours from the Palace, by using tactics to divert attention . After his failure, he started to claim the Greater Morocco, the same tactic the Istiqlal is doing under Chabat, an Awraba Bransa amazigh from Taza, by claiming back, and rightly so, the historical right to return Tindouf, but lip service is paid to liberate Ceuta, Melilla and other islands or the Amazigh Gouaches of the Canary Islands or promote Amazigh language and culture.


The ICJ and Moroccan Claim

Morocco has been involved with the UN since the adoption of the UN Resolution

1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, especially Paragraph 6 which rejects any action which disrupts the territorial integrity of a pre-colonial state. It was on the basis of this resolution that Morocco added the question of the Moroccan Western Sahara to the UN list of territories to be decolonised in 1965. Furthermore, Morocco excluded from the Organisation of African Union of the Cairo declaration of 21 July 1964, (Resolution AHG/R.S. 16), the inclusion of the Western Sahara from the agreement.  The Moroccan claim does not start from these dates but it is eternal, as Western Sahara is Morocco and not the other way around, especially since the Sanhaja Sahraoui Almoravid Dynasty founded the Nation-State of Morocco, from the heart of the Sahara extending to Tangiers, Europe, North Africa and West Africa including the Sahel. However, the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation of 1963 declared that Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory to be decolonised” in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, and ever since the UN repeated its calls requesting Spain to decolonise the Territory in accordance with the General Assembly resolution 2072 (XX) of 17 December 1965. After the failure of the repeated calls made by the General Assembly resolution 2229 (XXI) of 20 December 1966, and repeated each year from 1967 to 1973, the situation between Morocco and Spain became tense. As a result of the seriousness of the affair that the Spanish government finally responded favourably to the UN’s request to hold a referendum. It was only in 1973 that Spain conducted a census in order to hold a referendum in the Western Sahara, when the conflict between Morocco and Spain erupted. It was this census that provided in December 1974 the number of the Sahraoui people in the Sahara making a total population of 73,497 inhabitants.


Both France and the US supported Spanish proposals in the UN, but in December 1974, they voted with Morocco, in favour of resolution 3292 (XXIX) acknowledging the need for consultation with the ICJ at The Hague. France, from the very beginning of the Saharan conflict of the 1970s, adopted a policy of understanding and sympathy for the Moroccan claim. France also made some efforts to bring together Spain, Mauritania and Morocco, the main parties involved in the dispute and the solution, as Algeria was not an involved party in the conflict. The issue coincided with a period of very good relations and friendship between France and Morocco in general, and at personal level between Hassan II and Giscard in particular. The latter gave signs to the Government of Morocco, on his official visit to that country from 3 to 6 May 1975, that the Quai d’Orsay would make available to the Kingdom all its documentation on the Sahara in order to support the Moroccan case at the ICJ. In his press conference of 6 May 1975, Giscard declared in Rabat that he was: “très favorable à des conversations directes entre les principales parties intéressées”.


It is on these historical facts and many others that Morocco based its claim as prescribed on the UN Charter guaranteeing the unity of pre-colonial territories. George Joffé writes: “Moroccan claims on the region are based on UN Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960, particularly on Paragraph 6 which rejects any action which disrupts the territorial integrity of a pre-colonial

state.”33 Morocco and Mauritania prepared the ground and unified their actions at the Arab Leaders conference meeting in October 1974 and agreed to present their case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

They finally submitted it to the ICJ to give an advisory opinion to the UN on the Sahara question.34 The ICJ had to look into “resolution 3292 (XXIX), adopted by the UN General Assembly (with 87 votes in favour, 0 against and 43

abstentions) on 13 December 1974.”35 The Court agreed on 9 January 1975 to look into the questions raised by the General Assembly and give an advisory opinion and not a judgement on the following two questions :

I.Was Western Sahara (Rio de Oro and Sakiet el Hamra) at the time of

colonisation by Spain a territory belonging to no one (nullius) And should the majority opinion be “no”, the following would be


II.What were the legal ties between this territory and the Kingdom of

Morocco and the Mauritanian entity?


The Court gave its decision on 16 October 1975.  It was ambiguous giving satisfaction to everyone and justice to none. The compromise judgement rendered was that:  «The Court decided by a vote of 14 to two that it would decide. It was of the opinion, by 14 votes to two, that there were legal ties of allegiance between this territory and the Kingdom of Morocco. Furthermore, it was of opinion, by 15 votes to one, that there were legal ties between this territory and the "Mauritanian entity". However, the Court defined the nature of these legal ties in the penultimate paragraph of its opinion, and declared that neither legal tie implied sovereignty or rightful ownership over the territory. These legal ties also did not apply to “self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.”  Joffé writes that:

The Court found that, although there were legal ties between the populations of the Western Sahara and Morocco, these did not amount to territorial sovereignty. Indeed, as has been discussed elsewhere, the inherent contradictions between Islamic concepts of state sovereignty and those current in international law would have made it surprising if the Court had reached any other conclusion.


The Hague judgement showed clearly that the Bay’a principle, established in Morocco by the Amazigh Awraba Prince in 788 referred to earlier, an Islamic tradition of a quarter of the world’s population was not significant to the ICJ. Nevertheless, the Moroccan Government interpreted the Hague judgement as supporting their historical claim to the territory, and therefore considered the issue as settled and for Rezette, echoing Pierre Messmer, to conclude

that: “geographically and historically the Spanish Sahara from North to South, is a graduated version of Morocco; from Goulmine to Tarfaya and Samara, it is the same country, the same people in ever smaller numbers and ever sparser agriculture.”


As a result of the progress now achieved by Morocco, Algeria changed its views and started to cast doubts on Moroccan legitimacy over the territory.

It officially took a different stand and engaged in diplomatic moves to counter Morocco’s claim and made the Sahara its champion and the raison d’être of what has become now a failed Algerian state.


The Green March and Resolution 377 calling for Spanish-Moroccan Dialogue Once The Hague rendered its judgement, King Hassan II organised his Green March and threatened to send 350,000 unarmed men, women and children to march peacefully into the Western Sahara. After this announcement, the Spanish Government responded swiftly by addressing a letter to the Security Council, dated 18 October 1975, informing them of the Moroccan action and the threat to peace this act might create for international security. The Security Council adopted resolution 377 in 1975,  in which it called for the secretary general to have preliminary discussions with the two parties and report to the assembly, as well as calling for moderation and caution in the region.

France and the United States were in favour of Morocco recovering the territory and the Security Council urged the Spanish authorities to soften their stance on the negotiations. There were also elements from Spain who favoured a Moroccan solution, as Paul Balta writes about “A group of Spanish ultras headed by Jose Solis Ruiz, who was close to the Moroccan Royal family and also encouraged, for regional security reasons by the USA, were

supporting the Moroccan case”.   Jose Solis Ruiz visited Rabat on 21

October for consultations and negotiations moved to Madrid on 24 October when Ahmed Laraki, the Moroccan Foreign Minister, led a Moroccan delegation which was joined by the Mauritanians on 28 October 1975. Because of this high level diplomacy, the ‘Green March’ was postponed until 6 November. On the 29 October the Algerian Minister of the Interior arrived in Madrid with threatening messages from Boumediene and managed to stall the Spaniards for a very short time. In effect, he brought all negotiations to a halt, as Spain relied heavily on Algerian hydrocarbon, as well as the fear of the Algerian threat to support and finance the separatists of the Canary Islands Movement for Independence (MPALAC), as well as supporting the movement as part of Africa and not Europe, thus endorsing their call for independence.  In addition, the Foreign Minister Pedro Cortina y Mauri, a close friend of the regime in Algiers, supported the Algerian view and was in favour of an independent Sahara linked to Algeria.  The Algerian attitude hardened when two weeks after The Hague rendered its verdict, units of the Moroccan army entered the north-eastern region of Western Sahara on 31 October 1975 forcing the withdrawal of the Algerian security services and the Polisario to retreat to the camp in Tindouf. They were given instructions to control the follow of movement of refugees entering Algeria and ready to repel any Algerian military infiltration into Morocco.


The Moroccans, for strategic and security reasons, had the support of the Americans and the French, who put pressure on Spain to resume negotiations with Morocco. The stalemate was broken with the help of Solis Ruiz who had the support of the Ultras as previously stated. He was able to negotiate with Hassan II on Spain retaining 60% of the assets at Bou-Cra’a phosphate mines and a guaranteed fishing rights on the Saharan coasts.  American and French strong support, helped a tripartite agreement to come to fruition.  It appears that France put pressure on Spain in favour of Morocco because Paris, like the Americans, aware of the pressure of the Cold-War, preferred a pro-Western Moroccan-controlled Sahara to a progressive new weak state dominated by a reactionary committed ‘Communist’ inclined regime in Algeria. This would undermine the balance of power and change the geopolitics of the region where a hostile Algeria could surround Morocco in the East from Saidia to Tindouf and closing in with an open access in the south from Tindouf to the Atlantic shores, putting Morocco in danger from four directions; terrestrial East and South, and the Mediterranean Sea in the north with the Atlantic in the west, both accessible to Algerian Navy. On the other hand, as Stone writes: “Boumediene was concerned that Moroccan control of the Western Sahara, which is rich in phosphate deposits, would undermine Algeria’s developing economic, diplomatic and military pre-eminence in the Maghreb.”  Spain realised that any deal struck with Morocco would also secure its interests in the Western Sahara, delay any negotiations on other occupied territories like Ceuta and Melilla; they accepted the deal and signed the agreement on 14 November 1975. The agreement acknowledged Spain’s shares in the Bou Cara'a phosphate, and secured an understanding resolving the frequent fishing disputes of the past or any in the future. The two countries also agreed on the defence of the Canary Islands and the safeguarding of its Spanish sovereignty. This agreement ensured a smooth transition of the coming succession in view of the protracted illness of the Caudillo, and guaranteed that Morocco would not press for the return of Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish military, on the other hand, received orders “not to resist Moroccan military infiltration and indeed to abandon the very territory they had been assigned to defend”.

Balta writes: “Ces militaires ne souhaitent pas mourir pour un territoire qu’ils savent devoir abandonner un jour, mais ils ne veulent pas non plus être trompés ou ridiculisés”.  The territory was lost for the Spaniards and therefore there was no need to lose a single life. All this was made easy by the nature of the peaceful march organised by the Moroccans, who in no way wanted or wished for a direct military confrontation. The agreement was not made public, but it was later revealed that though it did not contain any reference to a referendum, it did have a clause calling for the respect of the views of the Sahrawi people through the Yema’a.  Subsequently, further details emerged outlining the main points of the agreement including the creation of a tripartite administration with the collaboration of the Yema’a; the end of the Spanish presence by 28 February 1976; the views of the members of the Yema’a to be respected and other final secret economic agreements concerning the allocation of 35% instead of 60% of shares of the Bou Craâ company to Spain originally demanded, as well as giving Spain fishing rights on the Atlantic shores as outlined above. They also maintained the right to two military bases in the region and for Morocco to freeze any call for the return of Ceuta, Melilla and the Jaaffarines islands.


However, the peaceful ‘transfer of administration’ to the Moroccans (as the Spaniards carefully worded the agreement) was stillborn as Algeria took a radical stance on the issue for the reasons already outlined. As a consequence of this, violence started to increase between Moroccan forces and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, leading to two proposals being presented to the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1975. The first was proposed by Tunisia, Senegal, and Zaire and asked the signatories to respect the wishes of the Sahrawi people, which the Moroccans claimed to have done by consulting the Jema’a; as agreed and stipulated in the Madrid Accord, and the second proposal, emanated from Algeria, and called for the replacement of the Spanish administration by a four-member supervisory council, representing Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria,  which Morocco rejected, as Algeria had no claim on the region.


As previously indicated, Morocco and Spain signed a Tripartite Agreement on

14 November 1975 whereby the latter handed over the administration of the Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania. The General Assembly approved the Spanish agreement on 10 December 1975 by resolution 3458 B (XXX). France was directly concerned with the Sahara question because of its ties with North Africa and was in favour of the agreement, considering that Algeria was not a party to the dispute, which prompted Giscard to make his views known at the end of January 1976.  Pierre Messmer also was in support of the Moroccan claim and denied the existence of any Sahrawi state ever existed but the population always formed part of the Moroccan fabric within its geographical boundaries, linked with a common economy, language and religion.  In effect, according to Konstantinos Koliopoulos, it is only ‘a return to the governing Dynasty to its original place of birth’.  On 26 February Spain ended its military presence there and later addressed a letter to the Secretary General of the UN in which it expressed its total withdrawal and no longer hold any administrative responsibility over the said territory.  In the same day, the Yema’a met in an extraordinary meeting and ratified the Tripartite Accord as stipulated in the agreement.  It sanctioned the closure of the Sahara file, for both Morocco and Spain, also giving legitimacy to Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, as required by the accord.  The Moroccan Prime Minister and Negotiator in Madrid later said to a Newspaper, «Pour moi, il n’y a plus de problèmes du Sahara! Il a été réglé le 14 novembre 1975, par la signature solennelle de l’accord de Madrid», emphasising that «cet accord s’inscrit dans le cadre de la charte de l’ONU qui, dans le cas des contentieux relevant de la décolonisation, encourage des négociations directes. C’est ce que nous avons respecté et réalisé». And Ahmed Osman added that he was surprised to see the affaire given to different UN envoys and the latest being Christopher Ross. Morocco rejected Ross in 2012 for being more in favour of Algeria where he was Ambassador in the past, and was only accepted after receiving assurances from the Secretary General for the neutrality of the UN special Envoy. The plot thickens when there was further breach of the UN principles for impartiality, but this time, it was the gaff committed by Ban Kamoon himself in March 2016 when he declared that the Sahara was occupied, entered a security zone without Moroccan permission and showed signs of victory when in Tindouf camp, provoking the anger of the Moroccans which led to more than 3 million people marching in the streets of Rabat on 13 March 2016.


As no solution was possible, an armed conflict broke involving the Polisario Front, the Algerian army, the Moroccan and Mauritanian armies which lasted until 10 July 1978, when the Mauritanian government was deposed in a military coup. The Polisario Front declared a cease-fire on 5 August 1979 and signed a peace treaty with Mauritania, thus putting an end to their mutual hostilities and Mauritania's involvement in the conflict. Shortly after that, Morocco moved to reunite the southern region of the Western Sahara that was formerly assigned to Mauritanian administration and ever since became part and parcel of Moroccan territorial claim. This in fact, increased violence and intensified the Algerian-Polisario-Morocco military conflict which lasted till 1988, when a cease-fire was declared by the UN, but no solution as yet reached in 2016.


Nevertheless, it appears that Morocco, as it did with France in 1955, signed a less than a perfect deal to a total recognition of the territories being Moroccan as the Spaniards recognised in the final Accord only the administration of Western Sahara and not sovereignty. This was mainly because they thought they could get away with it easily and present the case as a fait accompli, but regional pressure coming from two powerful oil countries in the region, Algeria and Libya, was even stronger and more significant than first anticipated or even agreed. Their actions opened the way to claims and counter claims from a small fully-fabricated Sahrawi opposition group, educated in Rabat and supported and financed by Algeria and Libya. Now that Kaddafi is no longer available, Algeria hit by physical and mental strokes, crippled by economic realities, the UN run by incompetent Secretary General Ban Cumin and a corrupt Special Envoy, Christopher Ross; all these elements contribute to negative outcomes and run contrary to the positive and peaceful inspiration of the international community striving for peace and security in Tamazgha, Africa and the World.


The Call of Unity and Reunification

Ahmed Osman, the Moroccan Prime Minister, considers the Green March as a risk King Hassan II took but by May 1974 was able to gather a great national consensus on the Sahara question. His real campaign started with his speech to celebrate the Youth Day when he declared “that 1975 is the year of the Liberation of the Moroccan territory”. He was able not only to cut the road to the Spanish, Algerian and the Polisario to reach their objectives, but also created a serious problem of insecurity for the West. In order to explain his decision, he led a diplomatic campaign involving all Moroccan political parties to visit their counterparts across the world and gather support for the Moroccan legitimate historical right. The issue of the Western Sahara may be analysed as an exercise of soft power through public diplomacy manoeuvring and not, strictly speaking, relying on hard power.

Though Morocco had to make use of smart power strategy when some units of the Moroccan army infiltrated into the Eastern regions of the Sahara to face a desperate action undertaken by the Algerian security services and Polisario militia, advised by Viguri, a Spanish General, who were operating in the Sahara. The Polisario and its allies started to kidnap and displace Sahraoui residents on the borders and placing them in a concentration camp created in the Moroccan town of Tindouf, now administered by Algeria. As the Morocco smart power strategy was successful against the Polisario manipulated by the Spanish General, Viguri, and the Algerian government security services, they all fled the region and resorted to kidnapping Moroccan Sahraoui people. They managed to take thousands of Moroccan Sahraoui by force but failed to attract large numbers. Because of this second failure, they then embarked on taking in the Touareg, Mauritanians, Malians and Nigerians who were leading a nomadic life fleeing drought in their regions in the 1980s and in order to swell the numbers, they set them all in the Tindouf concentration camp.


The Sahara question was discussed at all political levels and diplomatic efforts were made at the UN, with the ICJ, at the Arab League and at the OAU.

Hassan II also sent Ali Yata, the PPS (Communist Party) leader to Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany to gather support for the Moroccan cause, as Allal el Fassi was sent to Romania where he died of a heart attack on 19 May 1974, during a visit to meet President Nicolai Ceausescu. It was also a golden opportunity for the army to show its strength in its art away from politics and coups. It was deployed successfully in the border region, first, to organise and control the “Green March” of 1975 and, second, to put pressure on the Spaniards to negotiate. There, the army found its role and Dlimi, General Oufkir’s right hand man, was made the Commander of that region.


On the international front, the risk was considerable as the USA became worried after King Hassan’s 16 October announcement. The CIA, having an observatory bureau in Rabat were well informed (or were they?) and consequently informed the White House of a possible conflict between Morocco and Spain. As a result, the USA put pressure on Spain to negotiate with Morocco and reach an agreement as soon as possible. Nevertheless, Spain was in a state of paralysis as the Caudillo (Franco) was entering a comma he never recovered from and the government was in an internal political hot war which left no room for a hot war in Morocco it could not win but, nevertheless, played hard to maximise its benefits in the region on the Bou-Cra’a phosphate plant, on fishing, on the question of Melilla, Ceuta and other Islands as well as the security and sovereignty of Spain over the Canary Islands. The CIA, under its director, William E Colby informed Kissinger with his sketchy analysis of the danger that Hassan II is running into, and wrote, in a memorandum to the then Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinger, that: “King Hassan has decided to invade the Spanish Sahara within the next two weeks,” which was far from the truth. The memorandum speculated that King Hassan fearing the outcome of The Hague’s Opinion not to be in favour of Morocco, a military invasion is on the Moroccan planning.

Nevertheless, he also pointed out that Hassan II was confident that Spain would not put a serious fight for a territory they will evacuate whatever the outcome and such a conflict would only strengthen the Moroccan case”.


On November 6, 1975, 350 000 unarmed Moroccans crossed from Tarfaya into the Sahara region called “ Spanish Sahara”, brandishing Moroccan flags, portraits of King Hassan II, and copies of the Koran. The green march demanded the return of Moroccan Sahara and this initiative of organizing a peaceful march facilitated the task for Madrid to reach an agreement of 14 November 1975; it was in practical terms, the first step towards the process of decolonization of the Saharan region, as provided for in the UN Resolution

1514 (XV) of 1960. The green march (ⴰⵢⴰⴳⵓⵔ ⴰⵣⴰⴳⵣⴰ), could be described as the master stroke which resolved the dispute between Morocco and Spain. As we have seen, plans for the march were first announced by King Hassan II on 16 October 1975, recruiting offices were set up throughout Morocco, and by 20 of October as many as 524,000 volunteers were registered with enthusiasm throughout the country. The world found itself with a fait accompli even the King could not stop the people running with the Coran in their hands and the slogan of jihad and liberation in their calls. A general mobilisation no one could imagine possible and the logistics became the challenge and the nightmare for the military and the authorities in all

aspects: health, food, water in the Sahara, travel arrangement, tents, security and above all restraint from zealous people to go beyond the remit set by the king. The military proved their organisational skills and the logistics were excellent and transport provided by public and all private individuals, small and big businesses, in other words it was the duty of all and the achievement was beyond expectation and the success was total. The Sahara was back with the will of 350 000 Mujahidin for Islam, as they see it, to triumph over the ideology of Philip II and III, ending thus the remnants of the supporters of the Inquisitions, making reparation for the victims of the Alhambra Decree of 1 March 1492 against Marrano Jews and winning the war set against the Edict of 9 April 1609 involving the freedom of all Moriscos converted Muslims to Christianity and back to the total liberation of the Land of Islam.


The marchers numbered 350,000 volunteers of Moroccan Amazigh, Marranos and Moriscos who gradually assembled in a vast tent city near Tarfaya. It became evident to the Spanish government as much as to western observers of this remarkable mobilization, that King Hassan II would be unable to call off the march or fail in his pledge to send the marchers across the border even if he had wished to do so, he said: “I cannot turn 350, 000 Moroccans who have responded to my call with enthusiasm into 350,000 frustrated Moroccans».

Nevertheless, as soon as Spain accepted the reopening of negotiations, on 9 November 1975, King Hassan II ordered the marchers to return to their homes and the response was jubilant and a peaceful return was as successful as the original march itself. Morocco now achieved its objectives an on 14 November 1975, an accord was signed in Madrid to crown the negotiations with Spain by Morocco and Mauritania, in accordance with article 33 of the United Nations charter, and resolution 380. The difference of opinion over Western Sahara which, until 1975, divided Morocco and Spain does not therefore date from the time when the United Nations organization took an interest in the issue. It dates back to the consolidation of the country by the Almoravids, the Almohads and the Merinids, on the one hand, and the European ambition of the nineteenth century, on the other. The European appetites for domination and their desire to colonise and divide Morocco might have worked in a very limited way, but could not subjugate the people even for a second as the free Imazighen have never been subjugated by anyone, and because of their will and confidence in themselves were able to rule Spain and beyond as well as cohabit with all within certain limits and not further. The will of the Moroccans was stronger than European imperialism and with 350 000 marchers in

1975 defeated injustice and when Ban Kamoon, the UN Secretary general put the Sahara in doubt, more than 3 million Moroccans marched in Rabat on 13 march

2016 to denounce and protest against incompetence as well as the ignorance of the Secretary General to respect the UN Charter.



 Dr Ben Kirat 

 Visiting Professor/Consultant/Journalist Dr. Ben Kirat was educated at Oxford and Nottingham Universities, holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Westminster College Oxford, an M.A in French Studies and a PhD in International Relations from Nottingham University. He has been working as an International Consultant for over 30 years, specializing in European-US affairs, Africa, the Maghreb and the Middle East. He was a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University and M.A Supervisor in French Studies and held other post as Head of Department, Director of Studies and Marketing Manager in Colleges in Oxford and Europe and a Visiting Professor at Marbella University. Spain Dr Ben Kirat is bilingual in English and French, speaks fluent Spanish with a good knowledge of Italian.