This article is about Morocco's administration of Western Sahara. For other territories, see Southern Province
The Southern Provinces
: الأقاليم الجنوبية
) or Moroccan Sahara
are the terms used by the Moroccan
government for Western Sahara
. These two official Moroccan denominations explicitly include all of Western Sahara, which spans three of the country's 12 top-level administrative regions
(although only one region lies entirely within Western Sahara). A frequent use of the term "Southern Provinces" is found for example in Moroccan state television
(weather forecasts, displayed maps on the news, government statements, etc.).
Current map of the territories controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Southern Provinces of Morocco
Prior to 2015, the regions of Morocco within the claimed territory of Western Sahara (as well as prefectures to the north). These regions were further divided into ten provinces.
The Moroccan government controls and administers roughly four-fifths of Western Sahara (the part west of the Moroccan Wall
), while the rest makes up the Free Zone
held by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
). Government and private companies exploit coastal areas for fishing and the land areas for phosphate mining.
The two thirds of Western Sahara that are controlled by Morocco are treated by the government as normal Moroccan territory. The government conducts various economic and social development programs and includes these "Southern Provinces" in the national budget of government funding, national sport competitions, education programs, and national parliamentary elections. Following the Green March
and the Madrid Accords
signed with Spain and Mauritania in 1975, Morocco took control of Saguia el-Hamra, and the northern part of Río de Oro
, while Mauritania
took control of the remaining part of Río de Oro, renamed as Tiris al-Gharbiyya
A locally based Saharawi
national liberation movement
, the Polisario Front launched a guerrilla war
, with the crucial financial and logistical backing of Algeria
, aiming to win independence of the territory under the "Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
" (SADR). Following bloody clashes with the Polisario troops (SPLA) and deteriorating ties with Algeria, Mauritania pulled out in 1979 and gave up its share in the Western Sahara in order to avoid further complicated conflicts with the Sahrawi
Republic, Algeria, and Morocco. Morocco then seized the opportunity and took control of the remaining part of Río de Oro as well, which had been recognized by the Moroccan regime as Mauritanian a few years earlier.
Since a United Nations
-sponsored ceasefire agreement in 1991, about two thirds of the territory is administered by Morocco, including the majority of the coast. This territory is separated by fortified berm from the Polisario Front-controlled remainder, which has a population of about 30,000.
Polisario's army is considered incapable[by whom?]
of covering the vast one-third of Western Sahara, east of the Moroccan berm.
Moreover, most of Polisario's army is thought to be concentrated in the Tinduf area inside Algeria, protected by Algeria from the long arm of Morocco's artillery and air force.
The ceasefire line corresponds to the route of the Moroccan Wall (the military berm). Both sides claim the territory of Western Sahara in its entirety. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic had been recognized by 84 nations
, and is a full member of the African Union
, but not of the UN. Moroccan territorial integrity is implicitly recognized by the Arab League
with strong reservations from Algeria and Syria.
Administratively, Morocco divided the territory under its control into administrative units (wilayas
). Flags and coats of arms were created for the three wilayas of Boujdour
There were further changes in the territories in 1983, with the area becoming four wilayas through the addition of Dakhla
In 1990 Wadi al-Dhahab (Río de Oro
) was added.
References and notes
- ^ "Boujdour province, Morocco". crwflags.com. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
- ^ "Laayoune province, Morocco". crwflags.com. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
- ^ "Dakhla (Oued Eddahab-Lagouira) Province, Morocco". crwflags.com. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
- ^ "Western Sahara's stranded refugees consider renewal of Morocco conflict". the Guardian. January 6, 2015.
- ^ "South African Institute for Security Studies"(PDF).
- ^ Canadian Government Website report on SADR offer of citizenship to Moroccan settlers[permanent dead link]
Last edited on 14 April 2021, at 22:45
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