Polisario Front - History - Withdrawal of Spain

Withdrawal of Spain

Part of a series on the
History of Western Sahara
Background
  • Spanish Sahara
  • Moroccan Army of Liberation
  • Harakat Tahrir
  • Polisario Front
  • Sahrawi National Union Party
  • Madrid Accords
Disputed regions
  • Saguia el-Hamra
  • Río de Oro
  • Southern Provinces
  • Free Zone
Politics
  • Political status of Western Sahara
  • Politics of Morocco / of the SADR
  • Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs
Rebellions
Background
  • Ifni War
  • Zemla Intifada
Since 1973
  • Western Sahara conflict
    • 1973 clashes
    • Western Sahara War
    • Intifada
Issues
  • Sahrawi refugee camps
  • Berm (wall)
  • Human rights in Western Sahara
Peace process
  • Resolution 1495
  • Resolution 1754
  • Visiting mission
  • Referendum mission
  • ICJ Advisory Opinion
  • Settlement Plan
  • Houston Agreement
  • Baker Plan
  • Manhasset negotiations
  • Moroccan Initiative

While Spain started negotiating a handover of power in the summer of 1975, in the end the regime of Francisco Franco decided to throw in its lot with Western Sahara's neighbors instead. After Moroccan pressures through the Green March of November 6 and the Moroccan Army previous invasion of eastern Saguia el-Hamra of October 31, Spain entered negotiations that led to the signing of the Madrid Accords between Spain, Morocco and Mauritania. Upon Spain's withdrawal, and in application of the Madrid Accords in 1976, Morocco took over Saguia El Hamra while Mauritania took control of Rio De Oro. The Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on February 27, 1976, and waged a guerrilla war against both Morocco and Mauritania. The World Court at The Hague had issued its verdict on the former Spanish colony just weeks before, which each party interpreted as confirming its rights to the disputed territory.

The POLISARIO kept up the guerrilla war while they simultaneously had to help guard the columns of Sahrawi refugees fleeing, but after the air bombings by the Royal Moroccan Air Force on improvised Sahrawi refugee camps in Umm Dreiga, Tifariti, Guelta Zemmur and Amgala, the Front had to relocate the refugees to Tindouf (western region of Algeria). For the next two years the movement grew tremendously as Sahrawi refugees continued flocking to the camps and Algeria and Libya supplied arms and funding. Within months, its army had expanded to several thousand armed fighters, camels were replaced by modern jeeps (most of them were Spanish Land Rover Santana jeeps, captured from Moroccan soldiers), and 19th-century muskets were replaced by assault rifles. The reorganized army was able to inflict severe damage through guerrilla-style hit-and-run attacks against opposing forces in Western Sahara and in Morocco and Mauritania proper.

Read more about this topic:  Polisario Front, History

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