Bargaining and Western Sahara

Since 1967 the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have been fighting for independence from other countries under the name of the Polisario Front. First they fought with Spain, which was the country that first colonized the Western Sahara territory. Then once Spain left the territory in 1976, Morocco and Mauritania moved in to control it. With Spain out of the picture, the Polisario Front started fighting a guerrilla war against Morocco and Mauritania. The Polisario Front reached some success and managed to make Mauritania relinquish control over their part of Western Sahara in 1979. Currently, the Polisario Front is fighting for independence and self-determination from Morocco and this is becoming a resource draining conflict for the Moroccans.

Through the conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco, many different aspects of bargaining can be observed. Most importantly, we can see how bargaining has failed to succeed and is at a stalemate due to indivisible issues and a limited bargaining range.

The goals that the Polisario Front and Morocco want to reach are different, in fact they are completely opposite of each other. The Polisario Front wants a referendum on independence and the right to self-determination. The Polisario Front seems to have a high resolve to continue their fight, which is evident by the fact that they simply have not given up yet after more than forty years. On the other hand, the goal of Morocco is to get recognition of its claim of sovereignty in Western Sahara. Morocco has a very high resolve when it comes to not letting Western Sahara become independent because of the resources in that region. Recently, Morocco has been granting oil licenses to numerous companies who want to drill exploratory wells offshore of Western Sahara. If oil is found off the coast of Western Sahara then it is highly probable that the Polisario Front will be reaching its goal of self determination in the near future.

Their goals are important to note since when both parties have bargained and attempted to find a solution, it is quickly seen that the right of self-determination for Western Sahara is an indivisible issue. This issue limits the bargaining range of both parties. One example of how the bargaining range is limited is seen in a 2007 Moroccan proposal. This proposal stated that the Moroccans would hold a vote in Western Sahara for either full integration into the kingdom of Morocco or autonomy within the kingdom. The Polisario Front disagreed with this proposal because full independence and self-determination was not an option on the referendum. As you can imagine, the proposal never went through and both parties are still in conflict. What are your thoughts on the Moroccan and Western Sahara stalemate?

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3 thoughts on “Bargaining and Western Sahara

  1. This stalemate is very intense indeed, and the possibility for self-determination is heightening the tension dramatically. It will be interesting to see what happens in that region and if it is able to split off into independent separate states with the potential oil findings.

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  2. Very interesting post, there is much going on in this region that is not considered “headline” news and this is a good insight to this particular region’s struggles.

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  3. This is an issue that is rarely discussed in the modern news media landscape but one that is still important nonetheless. I think it is an issue that will not be resolved anytime soon due to the lack of international attention and the resolve of both parties to stand their ground with an almost non existent bargaining range. The Polisario front have been fighting for independence for decades and appear to have reached the point where they can not win but they can not be defeated either. On the other hand Morocco’s sovereignty over the region has not been recognized by any other country, leading to the conclusion that the Western Sahara will remain a non self-governing territory for the time being

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