Polisario Front - Foreign Relations

Foreign Relations

See also: Foreign relations of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

Support for the Polisario Front came mostly from African countries (especially "progressive" countries espousing strong anticolonial views, and those liberation movements who had only recently or not yet gained independence, such as African National Congress, SWAPO or MPLA). Most of the Arab world had supported Morocco; only Algeria and Libya have, at different times, given any significant support to POLISARIO. Iran recognized the SADR in 1980, Mauritania had recognized the SADR in 1984, and Syria and South Yemen had supported the POLISARIO position on the conflict when they were all members of the Front of Refusal. Additionally, many third world non-aligned countries have supported the Polisario Front. Ties with the Fretilin of East Timor (occupied by Indonesia in 1975) were exceptionally strong and remain so after that country's independence; both POLISARIO and Fretilin have argued that there are numerous historical parallels between the two conflicts.

The movement's main political and military backers were originally Algeria and Libya, with Cuba coming a very distant third. Mauritania also attempts to avoid involvement and to balance between Morocco and POLISARIO's backers in Algeria, although it formally recognizes the SADR as Western Sahara's government since 1984 and has a substantial Sahrawi refugee population (around 30,000) on its territory. Support from Algeria remains strong, despite the country's preoccupation with its own civil war. The POLISARIO is practically dependent on its bases and refugee camps, located on Algerian soil. While Algeria recognizes the Sahrawis' right to wage an armed struggle against Morocco, and has helped to equip the SPLA army, the government also seems to have barred POLISARIO from returning to armed struggle after 1991, attempting to curry favor from the US and France and to avoid inflaming its already poor relations with Morocco.

Apart from Algerian military, material and humanitarian aid, food and emergency resources are provided by international organizations such as the WHO and UNHCR. Valuable contributions also come from the strong Spanish solidarity organizations.

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