Quicksand in the Western Sahara? From Referendum Stalemate to Negotiated Solution

In: International Negotiation
Jacques Eric Roussellier
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The thirty-year old proxy conflict that has pitted Morocco against Algeria over the status of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara, together with indigenous independence aspirations, continues to challenge conventional wisdom in conflict resolution. Largely ignored by the international community, the question of Western Sahara's future continues to have increased strategic relevance in geopolitical and economic terms. Not merely a standard post-colonial conflict among territorial integration, independent statehood, and partition, the Western Sahara issue elicits a deeper resonance of clashing national and ideological identities. No lasting settlement of the Western Sahara question seems imminent unless the current negotiation process factors in post-independence nation-building dynamics that underpin the conflict, feeds its resilience, and informs its complexity.

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