A forum devoted to current political, economic trends, and news of the Maghreb region.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Riots in La'ayoune

Morocco and the Polisario are meeting in Manhasset, NY for another round of negotiations aimed a resurrecting the 35-year stalemate in the Western Sahara. In its latest issue, the Economist features a piece on the trajectory of the often-maligned process of negotiations. The article accurately points out to the regional stakes involved in the conflict and the dilatory practices that have delayed an ever lasting resolution of the stalemate.

My thoughts are that the plan on the table: autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the best the kingdom can offer given the overwhelming internal support for the "Moroccanity" of the territories. The recent rounds of talks come in the midst of renewed tensions and demonstrations around the Sahraoui city of Laayoune.

Riots took place in the Gadim Izik camp have resulted in 5 fatalities among the forces of order, and scores of injuries amongst the rioters. According to local news, the new cycle of tensions is primarily caused by the attempt of the Moroccan police and auxiliary forces to break the siege laid by a group of protesters calling for equal economic rights and housing in the Gadim Izik. Moroccan media blames the Polisario and Algeria in fomenting the riots.

It is clear that these latest riots and the ensuing allegations will only further complicate the tasks of negotiators at Manhasset. The question is after 35 years of conflict, is there still any real will to move the issue past the status quo of obstructionism?

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