The Western Sahara issue is complex and still relevant, and any research pertaining to this needs to be examined in its full extent. So, it is worth recalling the main stages in the history of this territory in order to identify legal issues raised by the difficult case of Western Sahara. Western Sahara was not always a desert, in fact, we know that during the Neolithic period (5000 - 2500 BC), Western Sahara was a savannah inhabited by animals and nomads.
It was not until the late third millennium BC that the savannah disappeared, giving way to a desert which forced people to migrate south. However, a new wave of migration from the north took place during the first millennium BC introducing Berber nomads in the area. In the eighth and ninth centuries, one sees a regular trade across the Sahara, which paved the way for the settlements of the new people settled, the "Moors". Living in a land barren and unfit for agriculture, the Moors organized themselves to form a community of nomadic pastoralists.
In the late 19th century, while the European powers launched into the "scramble for Africa", Spain, then the least important of the European countries, was feeling insecure about its future in the territory so close to the Canary Islands. Spain finally found support from fishing companies and commercial enterprises to locate in the Sahara. But this business venture was not very conclusive, however, Spain has remained within the territory of the Sahara.
France, meanwhile, ruled Morocco and in the early 20th century sought to gradually conquer Mauritania but anti-French resistance prevented the advance. These opponents are then turned against the sultans of Morocco and drove the Sultan of Morocco, Moulay Youssef Ben, the grandfather of Hassan II, the current king of Morocco. Seeing the Moroccan nationalism take on more importance, the Spanish government decided to separate its administrative settlements. Thus, a decree of July 20, 1946 established the West African Spanish territories. Until the early 1960s, the development of the Spanish colony was very slow. The development of oil and mineral exploration and the arrival of Spanish workers living in the Canaries promoted the settlement in the Sahara including Mauritania.
Even if Spain wishes to retain the territory under its influence, its commitment to decolonizing part of the Saharan Africa was apparent in the early 1970s. Thus September 21, 1973, the head of the Spanish State, General Franco sent to the General Assembly of the Sahara (the Djemaa) a message in which he "reaffirmed that the Saharawi people is the sole master of their fate and no one has the right to commit violence against their will; the Spanish state guarantees the territorial integrity of the Sahara." A year later, on August 20, 1974, the Secretary General of the United Nations (Kurt Waldheim) reported that Hassan II, king of Morocco, stated that he cannot accept a referendum that contains the option of independence.
Tags: Hassan II, king of Morocco, General Assembly of the Sahara (the Djemaa), Moulay Youssef Ben
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