An independent Western Sahara would be “not viable,” and a “disaster” for the region; the international community should “take the sensible step of communicating to the Polisario and Algeria that independence for Western Sahara is not a viable option, and that it should accept Morocco’s offer of autonomy”:
There is one generalization, however, that holds true much of the time: Creating new nations doesn’t solve problems so much as create new ones. The past quarter century has seen two new nations born in Africa — Eritrea and South Sudan. Neither has thrived. Since its founding in 1993, Eritrea has launched wars against all of its neighbors — including Yemen, which is separated from Eritrea by the Red Sea. Since its creation in 2011, South Sudan has headed straight into civil war and humanitarian catastrophe. (This is not to say that new sovereign nations shouldn’t be considered when they can bring stability out of chaos, as with the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, or the case of Somaliland).
So the somewhat-remote possibility of a new nation in the Sahara should be seen as a cause for concern. That possibility exists in Western Sahara, a little-known but large swath of land on the Atlantic side of the desert. Long part of Morocco, Western Sahara was reclaimed by Morocco in the 1970s as the Spanish ended their colonial rule there. Unfortunately, local rebels teamed up with Algeria, Cuba, and other Soviet-era comrades to launch a war against the Moroccans. In 1991, the sides reached a ceasefire, with Morocco controlling nearly all of its former territory.
The rebel forces, known as the Polisario, retreated to camps in the Algerian portion of the Sahara. The United Nations began to plan for a referendum on the future of Western Sahara, but after a decade of international efforts, no consensus emerged on who, exactly, would vote. At the urging of several nations, including the United States, Morocco has put forward a plan for an autonomous region in Western Sahara, but under the ultimate sovereignty of Morocco. The Polisario has refused to consider the plan, and has threatened a return to violence…[FULL STORY]