Western Sahara. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
announced in January that Sweden does not recognize Western
Sahara. According to the Ministry, the reason was that the
"conditions of international law" were not fulfilled. In
addition, according to Foreign Minister Margot Wallström,
the issue was a decolonization issue in the UN and was on
the UN Security Council's agenda.
The message was received with great disappointment from
the Western Saharan liberation movement Polisario. They had
expected the opposite as both the Social Democrats and the
Environmental Party have party decisions to recognize
Western Sahara. According to analysts, the Swedish
government's turnaround was because they could not afford to
deteriorate relations with Morocco. Since the issue was put
under review last year, Morocco has put pressure on Swedish
politicians, among other things through threats of boycott
by Swedish companies.
For the 43rd time since 1991, the United Nations Security
Council in April extended the one-year UN peacekeeping
mandate of MINURSO in Western Sahara. At the same time, the
Council wanted the 500-strong force to become operational
again, after Morocco, following a dispute with UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, expelled some 80 civilian
members from the force. Whether Morocco would allow MINURSO
members to return was unclear.
Last May, the leader of the Polisario, Mohamed Abdelaziz,
died after a long illness. Abdelaziz died at the age of 68
and has been leading the fight for Western Sahara since the
1970s. In December last year, he was re-elected as Secretary
General of Polisario and President of the Saharan Arab
Democratic Republic (SADR). In Algeria, where Polisario is
headquartered, the authorities announced eight days of
In July, Brahim Ghali was elected new Secretary-General
and President of SADR.
Since Moroccan forces crossed an important barrier near
the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou on the La Güera Peninsula
in August, Polisario warned of war. According to Polisario,
Morocco wanted to establish a military beyond the barrier,
which served as a limit for the Moroccan presence since the
ceasefire was reached between the countries in 1991. By
contrast, the Moroccan authorities had sent forces to the
area to stop car smuggling and illegal trade.
At the end of August, the UN called for calm after the
conflict escalated and both Morocco and Polisario sent
troops to the region.