Morocco: Model of Volatility, Not Stability

The article ``US Boosts Morocco Ties in Bid to Stabilize Region,'' April 14, reports that Polisario is a Moroccan separatist organization. That is false.

The Polisario Front was established in 1973 to end nearly one century of Spanish colonial rule over Western Sahara. The people of Western Sahara, the Saharawis, were promised independence by Spanish authorities. But as Spanish troops left, neighboring Moroccan and Mauritanian forces invaded, illegally claiming the territory.

In an attempt to settle the dispute over the territory, the United Nations requested that the International Court of Justice give an advisory opinion on Morocco's claims to Western Sahara. In 1975, the ICJ decreed that ``the Court does not support Morocco's claim to have exercised territorial sovereignty over Western Sahara.''

Today, the Clinton administration is rewarding Morocco for its efforts in the Middle East peace process and for resisting extremist Islamic movements that are taking control in neighboring North African nations. It is ironic that Morocco, which the United States holds as a model of stability, is on the verge of renewing hostilities against the neighboring Saharawis. Now that an independence referendum, to be conducted by the UN, is two years overdue and the US and the UN are continuing to give in to Morocco's intransigence, the Front is preparing for battle once again.

Like Bosnia and Rwanda, the situation in Western Sahara is volatile. The US and the UN Security Council could prevent re-ignition of this unacknowledged war by pressuring Morocco to adhere to the UN peace plan to which Polisario and Morocco agreed in 1991, which allows for a free and fair referendum. Shelley Wagner, Fallston, Md.

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