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December 12, 2016
Document Release Date: 
June 6, 2001
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April 1, 1979
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PDF icon CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2.pdf1.66 MB
App~eve~d~~For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 ,, ~.?~~~ The 'Nest ~r~~ -a~ ~ ~-~. %~~n~ icy: 1V~or ARio's 3,000 to 5,000 combatants are exploiting the tactical advantages of the sparsely populated desert terrain, and while they probably cannot drive the Moroccan Army out of the Western Sahara, they can probably make the price of staying there unacceptable to Morocco, (s) King Hassan won popular support by his 1976 annexation of Morocco's portion of the Western Sahara, but since then the cost in men and resources has become a political liability. A political settlement is badly needed, but he would lose considerable prestige-and possibly his throne-if he were to back down on his claims. (s) Algeria's new leadership has not slackened from the late President Boumediene's commitment to the cause of Western Saharan nationalism. Algeria continues to refuse to recognize the Moroccan-Mauritanian annex- ations and provides the roLtsnRto guerrillas sanctuary and material support .There appears to belittle immediate prospect of a negotiated settlement to this conflict without the prodding of outside mediation. (s) NOTE-This study addresses the principal developments leader- ship changes in Algeria and Mauritania and Mauritania's with- drawal from the war that have occurred in the two years since publication of the Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, The C'ort/7ict in the Western Sahara. Several developments in the dispute seem plausible over the next few years: ? Growing domestic opposition to the war in Morocco may within a year or so seriously weaken Hassan's negotiating position. In the absence of negotiations, political, economic, and military constraints will prob- ably keep the conflict from escalating into a conven- tional war. (s) ? The Yot.[sARio will continue to move at will through the countryside, scoring occasional military successes and inflicting heavy casualties on Moroccan forces. Some guerrilla attacks-notably those in southern Morocco proper-will have considerable propaganda value. For their part, Mauritanian forces will continue to honor their cease-fire with the guerrillas and may pull out of their sector altogether. Buoyed by the guerrillas' battlefield successes, Algeria and the ro~tsnxro may become less and less disposed to compromise. A political settlement would fnost likely have to take the form of Moroccan acknowledgment of Saharan self-determination and territorial concessions to the new Saharan state. ? If a Saharan ministate were created in the Mauritanian sector, such an arrangement would be unstable. Por.tsnxto leaders would view their ministate as a liberated zone from which they would continue their insurgency in the Moroccan Sahara. They would turn to Algeria for military support when threatened by Morocco. ? Most countries have not acknowledged the partition of the Sahara between Morocco and Mauritania, and the NoL> a,xro's government-in-exile will slowly gain broader recognition. Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 secret Apjproved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 !~J1J1?'OKN-NOCONTKAC' - a ~Z? ~~N -~ ~.~~stly and embarrassing attacks from Algerian- i,ased eoLisARto guerrillas seem likely to continue, and Hassan may be pressured into a more aggressive r~t~3icy toward Algeria. Given the military balance, which is greatly to Morocco's disadvantage, Hassan is like-iv to restrict cross-border operations to commando ;-=~i~is that carry minimal risks of drawing a major ~;nonse from Algerian regular forces, but also afford =~a~l ~ minimal promise of slowing the insurgency. (s) ?ret ~~' Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 Secret Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A00080013,0Q0k~N000NTRACT- ORCON The Western Sahara Cont7ict: Morocco's Millstone (s) After more than three years of conflict, Morocco's military capability to fight an effective counter- guerrilla war has been seriously eroded. Moroccan forces are increasingly defensive minded and show little ability to detect and respond to concentrations of Yol.ISnRIO forces. Other factors contributing to declin- ing Moroccan effectiveness are failures resulting from inadequate maintenance, lack of spare parts, poor intelligence and security operations, command fail- ures, and low morale. (s rrF) The rot,tsARlo forces are well armed and supplied. They have not yet attempted to occupy and hold territory, preferring to operate from bases in Algeria and thereby deny superior Moroccan forces a fixed target. The roLlsnRlo probably hopes that a pro- tracted guerrilla war will force Rabat to accept a political settlement creating an independent Saharan state. (s tvF) roLisnR>i3nses of northwest Africa. They are known for their ~~,?rucity, pride, and skill with firearms and have a~jminated the eastern part of the territory for some +.@#51e. (U~ t ragmentary information on the Pot,tsARto Front's ;d~ai.dowy leadership permits us to draw a few tentative ;c?nclusions on its political orientation, ideology, and :~~?icctives. The key figures are single-minded young ~~~~r in their thirties who seem prepared to fight as long .:> accessary to achieve independence. The Front-does ~,t seem to be tied to a single ideology but is a coalition ,i f=ictions representing diverse political leanings. (s uF ed authority and depe~ids on the support of the Arm}~ Until power reJadonsh:ps are sorted out, Bend~edid ar.J his military backers veil( probably hold fa:;t to B~:.imediene's Sa:+raran policy to deny powerful ri.~als an exploitable openings. (s) Algeria has no tcrrituri, claims an the Sahara, although it has s~eadfas iy maintained that it is an interested party with p?as tried to adopt a more balanced position. It has been icting as broker, but with little success. Paris wants ' ~ continue to improve its relation- ship with Algeria, with which it has more important trade ties than it has with Morocco. (s) France has demonstr :fed in the past, however, that it is willing to risk Algeri to hostility as well as domestic and internatic,nal cri cism by taking military action against the rout sArtt :~ when it believes its interests are threatened. [n 1.he wi rter of 1977-78 and again in May Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A00080013~~~Ir2 1978 France carried out effective air strikes in retaliation against the YoirtsAxto in Mauritania for the taking of French hostages from the mining complex at Zouerat. (s) France wanted to display its determination to protect French citizens and demonstrate to pro-French gov- ernments in Africa that Paris would use force when necessary to safeguard its interests. The raids were well received by the French public, which greeted with enthusiasm the subsequent release of the French hostages. The government recognizes, however, that military intervention usually pays few dividends do- mestically, especially should there be French casual- ties. Thus, France has been careful to emphasize the selective and defensive character of its strikes in Mauritania. (s) Should military hostilities break out between Algeria and Morocco, France would support Morocco militarily-discreetly, if possible. The French have continually stressed the need for a political solution and initially would probably offer to mediate. ]f unsuccessful, they probably would expedite delivery of previously ordered equipment to the Moroccans and might send some advisers. They might also provide pilots for restricted use in Morocco and the Western Sahara. Paris continues to promote the idea of an African mutual security organization, and the French might try to aid Morocco under the guise of an ad hoc African defense force. (s) Spain's Residual Ties Madrid's policy toward the Western Sahara is also based on a need to maintain a rough balance in its relations with Morocco and Algeria. Spai~i continues to pay lipservice to the Madrid Tripartite Agreements of November 1975, in which Madrid surrendered administrative power over the Spanish Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania. This position is calculated to please Morocco. Madrid has sought to hedge its bets and placate Algiers by insisting that sovereignty over the region resides with the people of the Sahara, whose aspirations toward independence must be determined in a UN-sponsored referendum. (s) Strong Spanish security interests in North Africa are closely tied to the struggle between Morocco and Algeria. The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco are coveted by Moroccans, and Madrid worries that friction with Rabat could provoke a "green march"6 against the enclaves. Spain is even more determined, however, to keep its Canary Islands-where Algiers has demon- strated an ability to stir up trouble among a small separatist group in order to apply pressure on Madrid to renounce the Sahara settlement. Spanish fishermen, moreover, arc vulnerable to Moroccan-, Algerian-, and NoLtsnttto-sponsored attacks as they ply the fishing grounds off the Saharan coast. (s) The transition to democracy in Spain has also brought pressure on the government from the socialists-the principal opposition party-who threw their support to the Algerian-backed r'ot.tsnttto Front in 1.977. Partly in order to protect his government from charges of favoring the Moroccan monarchy, Prime Minister Suarez has encouraged informal public contacts be- tween leaders of his party and the roLtsARto; he also seemed to be moving toward a rapprochement with Algeria last fall when Boumediene's declining health interrupted negotiations. (s) Torn by conflicting pressures, Madrid is likely to stay aloof from direct involvement in any negotiations. The Spanish Government believes that Spain pulled out of the Sahara just in time to avoid a colonial war, and it is determined not to be drawn back into the fray. in the event of hostilities between Morocco and Algeria Spain would keep its distance, while possibly offering to mediate. (s) Should a settlement create an independent Saharan state, Madrid would probably offer what limited financial and technical aid it could to bolster the new regime. The Spanish Government would hope that such support would be favorably received internation- ally. Spain's support to an independent Western Sahara would also assuage guilt feelings over the precipitate withdrawal of Spanish forces in early 1976 and perhaps facilitate Spanish access to the phosphate deposits in the Sahara. (s) Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 Approved For Release 2001/08/10 :CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130001-2 'v'~~ .Settlement in Sight ~l~lrcre seems to be little immediate prospect of a g~eaceful solution to the Saharan dispute, and the war is likely to drag on through its fourth year. Desultory ?;~:i.tement efforts between Morocco and Algeria had ~~talled at the time of Algerian President Boumediene's fi~;ath last December. Neither Morocco nor Algeria Las yet shown a willingness to back away from its basic ~aaasition. Although changes of governments in Algeria :a-~d Mauritania might have been expected to break the ,taiemate, the dispute now seems even less tractable ~':ra.n when the war began more than three years ago. it lire continuing negotiating deadlock is attributable to several factors. Pot.isnRto military capabilities in the ~~~estern Sahara are growing relative to those of the ~lcreasingly frustrated, dispirited, and ineffectual i'vtoroccan Army. "l'he guerrillas' battlefield successes ;rc reinforcing the Algerians in their rigid Saharan ,policy. The Algerians show no sign of considering the ~,~~~thdrawal of their support to the guerrillas, the one l~ressure tactic that might compel the guerrillas to stile for something less than independence in all of the l~~_3rmer Spanish Sahara. The poLisnxto Front seems ;v,ore concerned with consolidating its military gains .z~ainst an increasingly isolated Morocco than with fE~rmulating a negotiating position. (s) i~4~r his part, King Hassan is presently unwilling to