Africa had but two independent countries a century ago; today, just one colony remains – an area along the Atlantic Ocean that borders Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania called Western Sahara.
Since the mid-1970s, control of Western Sahara has been disputed between the Polisario movement, liberation-oriented entity working for independence with the support of Algeria, and the Moroccan government, which has offered autonomy.
And for more than 30 years, the United Nations has been working to broker a deal to end the dispute.
Its latest bid is scheduled for Nov. 8-9, when representatives of the Moroccan government and the Polisario will meet at the UN’s offices in New York, along with officials from Algeria and Mauritania, to try to find a solution.
If they fail – as usual – the bad blood could get worse. The UN’s latest envoy, Christopher Ross, says the status quo is “unsustainable,” reports The Economist.
“The row has been going on since November 1975, when Morocco’s Hassan II “encouraged” 350,000 of his people to mass on its southern border, in order to bully Spain, which had controlled the territory since the late 19th century, into ceding the territory,” according to the publication.
Spain, in the midst of a sea change following the death of dictator Francisco Franco and a slow return to Republican government, duly did so. The following month, the Moroccan army marched in, prompting a 16-year war with Polisario fighters backed by neighboring Algeria, according to The Economist.