Updated: Sep 20, 2022
The Western Sahara remains one of the most disputed territories around the world, with Moroccan authority being challenged by the Al-Sahrawi People. Morocco has long claimed the territory as its own on constitutional grounds, yet global recognition over the Western Sahara remains ambiguous. The Polisario Front is the group of resistance fighters formed by the Al-Sahrawi people to fend off Moroccan forces.
Historically, the Polisario Front was formed in order to liberate the Western Sahara from Spanish colonial rule. When Spain had left West Africa, however, it offered the Western Sahara to be partitioned by Mauritania and Morocco. Despite liberating the territory from Mauritania in 1979, the Polisario Front has been in a stalemate with Moroccan forces since the 1991 UN ceasefire. Just two years ago in 2020, however, the Polisario declared the ceasefire as over and outdated. Armed conflict between Moroccan forces and the Polisario Front has since resumed.
The Western Saharan question is one of the most ignored geopolitical conflicts globally. Although the United Nations has emphasised the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination, it has not truly enforced this right. In fact, it remains illegal for the Sahrawi people to cross the Berm Line (a large sand-made border between Moroccan-occupied land and the Sahrawi people's land). It is also illegal for the Western Saharan flag to be waved in the occupied territory.
What remains of the Sahrawi-claimed land is relatively unstable. Humanitarian aid is scarce and the outstanding majority of the Sahrawi people live in refugee camps. The headquarters of the Polisario Front are located in similar refugee camps in the Tindouf Province of neighbouring Algeria. All in all, the Western Sahara has often remained ignored and isolated by the international community.