Moroccan Sahara beyond Western Sahara

Moroccan Sahara: Despite the campaigns operated by some NGOs who are getting rich off the suffering of others, the rights of Morocco to the Sahara desert go way past the conflict in the Western Sahara.

They say that relations between right and left are nothing but a joke. The myth they are keeping up regarding the Western Sahara is one such example.

Anyone who knows the story of Africa knows that the Moroccan claim over the Sahara is completely incontestable and that this territory has been Moroccan for such a long time that there can be no reasonable doubt on the subject.

There were no more no less than five royal Moroccan dynasties which emerged from what we today call the “Western Sahara”, the great Saharan south. Just to mention one of them, the first of these dynasties was the Almoravid Dynasty. It extended then from the Senegal Valley to Spain, constituting what was known as the “empire of the two banks”, and this was a Moroccan Empire.

The Almoravids (in Arabic al-Murābitūn, المرابطون “the people of the ribat”) were an Amazigh (Berber) dynasty, originating from the Adrar who practiced a nomadic civilization between what is now Senegal and the Moroccan Sahara.

There were also political and economic realities. In fact, the entire Senegal River valley and the Niger River valley were turned toward Morocco. In the 16th century, Timbuktu was indeed a Moroccan city, and prayers were pronounced in the name of the Sultan of Morocco. The Pasha of the Timbuktu jurisdiction was also Moroccan. As for Mauritania, it was also a Moroccan dependency and it was invested by its emirs.

These Moroccan historical roots engendered an inferiority complex in certain states like Algeria, where Morocco is looked upon jealously because of how ancient a nation-state it is. In the year 987, when Hugues Capet was King of France, the Moroccan monarchy was already two centuries old.

This strategic country in northern Africa nevertheless had the misfortune of being deeply dissected in the East and the South during the colonial period.

France was seriously at fault for amputating pieces of Morocco. By creating Algeria, the country was deprived of a large territory in the East, and pushing the borders of Morocco further west.

On this point, in his memoirs entitled “Mauritania against the winds and tides”, Mokhtar Ould Daddah confirms the position of Charles de Gaulle when he insisted on how important it was for the Republic of Mauritania to resolve its disputes with Morocco. He also pointed out how committed France was to defending the integrity of Mauritania’s borders. Mokhtar Ould Daddah recalls how de Gaulle said: “France would be in an awkward position if it had to fight against Morocco should it choose to invade Mauritania.”

This was a distinct possibility because then Morocco would restore Tindouf to its governance after the end of the Algeria war. Firstly, both the region and the city were Moroccan and had been ceded to Algeria by France, which felt that a restitution to the Cherifian authority was obvious. Second, there was an accord between Morocco and the PGAR to perform a correction to the borderlines between the two countries after Algerian independence. This correction was probably supposed to include restoring Tindouf to the territory of Morocco.

French naturalist and explorer Théodore Monod also noted that there was no doubt at all about the fact that, in terms of its architecture and inhabitants’ culture and style of dress, Tindouf was an obviously Moroccan city. “In Tindouf, we arrive at the southern-most Moroccan Ksar (castle), there’s no doubt about it.”

Meanwhile, Tindouf had been annexed by the French government of Algeria in 1934. After independence, the Algerians simply flouted a 1961 accord signed by Morocco’s King Hassan II and Ferhat Abbas, who was at that time the provisional governor of the Republic of Algeria. This treaty stipulated clearly that Morocco was not obliged to respect the Saharan borderlines that Algeria inherited from the colonial period.

Algeria 1830-1930


In reality, it is absurd that independent countries respect colonial borderlines imposed by the Europeans. It is just as absurd to need authorization from the Algerian government to fight for the independence of a territory, but this is the case of the Saharans.

At the hands of the Spanish, Morocco also endured a significant loss of territory in the South, which many today refer to as “Western Sahara”.


Thus the roots of several dynasties of Moroccan kings were cut off by this Spanish occupation or by the French occupation; together they established the artificial borders created by European conquerors. The dispute with Algeria was to be expected since it had already annexed the East of Morocco up to the region of Colomb Beshar, which had always been part of Moroccan territory, just like Tindouf. Morocco did however manage to restore its territory known as the “Western Sahara”. Given the uncertainties of the situation, Spain wanted to make the region independent so that it could maintain its influence in Africa, because its African colonies had always been linked to the nationalist pride of the Spanish Army.

In response to these pretenses, King Hassan II addressed the International Court of Justice to accuse Spain of creating a fictitious entity called the “Western Sahara”, inventing an artificial state, just like the French had done when they created “Algeria.”

To survive, the “Saharan” state had to rely on the support of Madrid. This fictitious country was fragile, unstable, and totally dependent on Spain. The interventionist posturing was maintained by Algeria, which had always suffered from an inferiority complex with respect to Morocco, due to Algeria’s lack of historical roots, and also to justify its own existence as a nation-state. Tunisia and Morocco have always existed, whereas when the French arrived in the territory we know today as Algeria, it had been disorganized and under the authority of the Turks.

Of course, there was the Kingdom of Tlemcen and other entities, but the country of Algeria did not exist.

German-Italian poet Arturo Graf said that wisdom and madness are two countries

that lie next to one another, with borders that are so indistinct that it is impossible to know for sure which of the two territories you’re in. You could say the same thing about those who claim they are fighting for independence by joining in Algeria’s designs on the Sahara, even if you’re talking about NGOs who claim to have an altruistic clause just so they can sink their teeth into international aid resources.

Luis Agüero Wagner

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Diario Siglo XXI


Translated by: @StolenSahraoui