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April 1, 1979
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Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1A The Western Sahara Conflict: Morocco's Millstone F... ct.?rcr PA 79-113/67 -ter ' IY!V Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A00080Q,,~0002-1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 25X1 25X1A 25X1A #4iQ Release 2005/07/20: CIA-RDP80T00942A00080 oreign Assessment Center 130002-1 The Western Sahara Conflict: Morocco's Millstone (s) An Intelligence Assessment Research for this report was completed on 23 March 1979. This assessment was prepared at the request of and coordinated with the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Secret Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800'M0'~1 V prr I 9 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80TOO942AOOq The Western Sahara Conflict: Morocco's Millstone (s) Morocco has lost the initiative in its effort to maintain its hold on the former Spanish Sahara in the face of unrelenting harassment by the guerrillas of the POLISARIO Front. The tide of war is running in favor of the POLISARIo and we do not believe that Morocco will be able to reverse this trend as long as the flow of military supplies from Algeria continues and the Algerian safehaven for POLISARIO guerrillas is main- tained. The Moroccan problems have been com- pounded by Mauritania's withdrawal from the fight- ing, allowing the guerrillas to concentrate their offensive against the Moroccan-administered sector o the Western Sahara POLISARIO'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 rice of staying there unacceptable to Morocco King Hassan won popular support by his 1976 annexation of Morocco's portion of the Western Sahara, Tint since then the cost in men and resources has become a political liability. A political settlement is badly needed, but he would lose considerable Several developments in the dipute seem plausible over the next few years: 25X1 ? 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- 25X1 ? The POLISARIO 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 POLISARIO may become less and less disposed to compromise. A political settlement would most likely have to take the form of Moroccan acknowledgment of Saharan self-determination and territorial concessions to the new Saharan state. prestige If he were to back ? If a Saharan ministate were created in the down on his claims. Mauritanian sector, such an arrangement would be unstable. POLISARIO leaders would view their ministate Algeria's new leadership has not slackened from the as a liberated zone from which they would continue late President Bournediene's commitment to the cause their insurgency in the Moroccan Sahara. They would of Western Saharan nationalism. Algeria continues to turn to Algeria for military support when threatened refuse to recognize the Moroccan-Mauritanian annex- by Morocco. ations and provides the POLISARIO guerrillas sanctuary and material support . There appears to be little ? Most countries have not acknowledged the partition immediate prospect of a negotiated settlement to tl1is pf the Sahara between Morocco and Mauritania, and conflict without the prodding of outside mediation. he POLISARIO'S government-in-exile will slowly gain 25X1 roader recognition. Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 Approved i ? Costly and embarrassing attacks from Algerian- based POLISARIO guerrillas seem likely to continue and King FIa`ssan_may be pressured into a more aggressive policy toward Algeria. Given the military balance, which is greatly to Morocco's disadvantage, Hassan is likely to restrict cross-border operations to commando raids that carry minimal risks of drawing a major response from Algerian regular forces, but also afford 25X1 only minimal promise of slowing the insurgency. Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80TOO942AOOq The Western Sahara Conflict: 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 Ittle ability to detect and respond to concentrations of OT.ISARIO forces. in order to maintain the current level of pressure on Moroccan troops. The guerrillas would have to scale down their operations considerably if these supplies were reduced or cut off. The loss of Algerian military support would not mean the end of POLISARIO resist- ance, but it would probably be reduced to a level that could be contained by the Moroccan forces.E 25X1 he POLISARIO forces are well armed and supp ie . 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 POLi-SARIO probably hopes that a pro- tracted guerrilla war will force Rabat to accept a political settlement creating an independent a aran state. POLISARIO Military Advantages/ Limitations POLISARIO Front Political Orientation The PoLlsARlo Front (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro)' was formed in May 1973 by members of its predecessor organization, the Saharan Liberation Front, a guer- rilla movement that opposed Spanish control of the territory.' The POLISARO'S goal, enunciated at its second congress in 1974, is the establishment of an indeipendent, nonaligned, socialist Arab republic. In POLISARIO militants have d d f i ence, epen n or their drive mobilized and politicized large numbers of Saharans and conducted an effective public relations campaign. More important, thePOLis--- has grown in the past five years-with strong Algerian backing-from an insignificant band of fighters into a well-organized and equipped force that has driven Mauritania from the war and forced Morocco into a defensive posture. It has become a relatively independent political and military force that will have to be reckoned with in any The guerrillas continue to take advantage of their ability_ to-move virtually at will through southern Morocco, Mauritania, and the Western Sahara. They also have benefited from the 10 July coup in Mauritania, which has resulted in a cease-fire in Mauritania and the Mauritanian-controlled section of the Sahara and allowed the poLisARio forces to enhance their logistic capability through the establish- ment of additional base camps. Since the coup in Mauritania, Moroccan casualties have increased to about 100 men killed per month. Moroccan troops based in Mauritania are not expected to undertake offensive operations against the POLISARIO forces. The POLISARIO lacks the manpower base to pursue anything other than a guerrilla strategy_. POLISARIO'S objective is not to defeat the Moroccans, but to force them to the bargaining table or to withdraw. The guerrilla forces are dependent on military aid pri- marily from Algeria, and to a lesser extent from Libya, future settlement of the Saharan dispute. 25X1 25X1 The majority of POLISARIO partisans are Reguibat tribesmen, probably the most powerful of the Saharan peoples.; They traditionally have followed a nomadic ' Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro were the former names of the two regions comprising the Spanish Sahara. The acronym is derived 25X1 from the Spanish translation Frente Popular para la Liberacion de .Saeuia el Hamra y Rio de Oro. Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 CPYRGHT 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X`4 25X1, Guerrillas in Land Rovers departing for mission in Western Sahara. lifestyle, ranging with their camels across wide ex- panses of northwest Africa. They are known for their ferocity, pride, and skill with firearms and have dominated the eastern part of the territory for some time tary approach as the only effective means of achieving independence. tentative conclusions on its political orientation, ideology, and objectives. The key figures are single-minded young men in their thirties who seem prepared to fight as long as necessary to achieve inde endence The dominant ideological orientation within the I POLISARIO leadership reportedly is Arab nationalism. Secretary General Mohamed Abdelaziz and most influential POLISARIO leaders stress non-Marxist Arab socialism and unity, the fight for independence, and nationalism as the main features of the POLisARIo struggle. POLISARIO leaders advocate a hardline mili- The POUSARIO Front has been concentrating on strengthening its shaky political credentials while g guerrilla operations against Morocco and, until last July, Mauritania. In February 1976 the POLISARIO Front announced the creation of the Saharan Democratic Arab Republic, in effect, a government-in-exile-'The SDAR consists of a skeleton cabinet of little-known figures and a legislative coun- cil. The Front, however. is the dominant authority. A Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A0008001300 Pt Saharan D emocratic Arab Republic (SDAR) President Mohamed Abdelaziz Countries That Recognize the SDAR Date Council of Ministers (October 78) Prime Minister Secretary General of Mohamed al-Amin Ould Ahmed Ministry of Commerce (Lamine Amin) Moulay Ahmed Ould Baba Minister of Defense Secretary General of Ibrahim Ghali Ould Moustapha Ministry of Communications and Energy Minister of Interior Hamoudi Ahmed Ould Baba Mahjoub Laroussi Secretary General of (Mahfoud All Beiba) Ministry of Education Minister of Foreign Affairs All Ould Mahmoud Ibrahim Hakim (Hakim Adel) Secretary General of Minister of Information Ministry of Health Mohamed Salem Ould Saleck Saleck Ould Boubeh Minister Without Portfolio Mohamed Ould Sidati Algeria Angola Benin Burundi Congo Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Guinea-Bissau Madagascar Mozambique North Korea Panama Rwanda Sao Tome & Principe S h l 3-6-76 3-11-76 3-9-76 2-29-76 6-2-78 11-3-78 2-24-79 3- -76 3- -76 3- -76 3-16-76 7- -78 - -76 6-20-78 eyc e les 10- -77 South Yemen 2-1-78 President 41 members, Tanzania 11-9-78 Sidi Ahmed Ould Mohamed including a 21-member Politburo Togo 3- -76 Vice President Bashir M t Vietnam 3-3-79 us apha Siyed al-Quail nine-member Executive Committee is the formal executive body, but we suspect the shadowy Revolu- tionary Command Council-perhaps an amalgam of the party's political and military wings-is the real power center.' There may be otherinflue-tial bodies representing specific interest groups, for example, the, commanders of fighting units based at Tindouf._l Nineteen governments recognize the Saharan Demo- cratic Arab Republic Eight, including Vietnam and states that value relations with Morocco. Among the Arab states, only South Yemen has f Algeria's _Q11Qj lead in recognizing the SDAR. 25X1 The POLISARIO leadership is closely allied politically to Algeria, with which it shares the common objective )T~ weakening Morocco. That tie, however, should not o scure the fact that Saharan nationalists have their own interests and objectives and are not mere ap- Ethiopia, have granted recognition in the past 13 onths, suggesting that the Front'sdiplomatic effort-j! An independent Saharan state would form close ties aining momentum. Morocco's decision in March to with Algeria and Libya, the latter probably the efuse to discuss further the Naha ra ,c . o , t ? - - ----- .. second most important backer, and would national forums inevitably will strengthen the e heavil de I d t y n en on them for financial assistance. OLISARIO'S Position. Rabat's decision in March 1976 ne S h w a aran re ime would robabl emulate these to break relations with Algiers served as a deterrent t tates in establishing an Arab socialist political and recognition of the Saharan government-in e-xjle by pen ages of Algiers. 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 POLISARIO Front (October 78) Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Secretary General Mohamed Abdelaziz Deputy Secretary General Bashir Mustapha Siyed al-Quail Habib Allah Ahmed Baba Miske Jumal Zakari Hamdi All Revolutionary Command Council Mohamed Abdelaziz Mohamed al-Amin Quid Ahmed Ibrahim Ghali Ould Moustapha Mahjoub Laroussl economic system. It would seek close political ties with Mauritania Drops Out "progressive" Third World states and adopt a nonaligned posture. POLISARIO leaders would probably Coup and Disengagement retain interest in a relationship with the United States- The military coup_in Mauritania on 10 July 1978 25X1 they appear to appreciate US policy of denying nnded 1 _ Years of rule by Moktar Ould Daddah and 25X1 arms to Morocco for useinlthe Sahara. rought to power a goyc_rnmentcommitted to ending 25X1 25X1 taurit ahara cow oriented. They might, however, be susceptible to he decision to cast its lot with Morocco in partitioning efforts by the Soviet Union and Cuba to wield he territory ofthe former Spanish colony proved fatal infl uence locally. The USSR, Cuba, and other Corn o the Ould Daddahp~Ewernment. Algerian President monist states currenfl g ve.limitedpolitical and oumediene warned Daddah in November 1975 that nonmilitary support to the POLISARIO cause. This could siding with Morocco would be his undoing. As the provide an opening wedge for Communist penetration conflict unfolded in 1976, the POLISARIO Front shifted The leaders of an independent Western Sahara- though presumably socialists-are probably not Mos into a newly created Saharan state. The Soviets and the focus of its attacks to Mauritania, the weaker of its Cubans, however, might proceed cautiously for fear of causing strains in their relationship with A gena and Morocco. 0 Executive Committee (nine members) Mohamed Abdelaziz Secretary General, POLISARIO Bashir Mustapha Siyed Deputy Secretary General, POLISARIO Mohamed al-Amin Quid Ahmed Prime Minister, SDAR Ibrahim Ghali Ould Moustapha Defense Minister, SDAR Mahjoub Laroussi Interior Minister, SDAR Ayoub al-Habib Mohamed al-Amin Bouhali Sidi Ahmed al-Batal Omar Hadrani (Mohamed al-Quail) 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Secret Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 two antagonists. The relentless pressure of the guerril- las on the poorly trained and equipped Mauritanian forces ultimately broke the Mauritanians' will to fight. I The new military government, led by President Mohamed Saleck, has, in effect, already withdrawn from the war, and it appears determined to extricate Mauritania from the dispute altogether. Mauritania has worked to preserve a cease-fire that the guerrilla declared unilaterally last July shortly after the coup. Nouakchott's leaders have made a permanent peace the Western Sahara their overriding objective, but many key factors are beyond their control. II Moving cautiously in deference to Rabat, the Mauritanians have made extensive contacts with Algeria, the POLISARio Front, and a number of potential mediators, including France, Libya, and Mali. Since the beginning of the year, the Mauritania iverge on tactics and Morocco is much tougher on leadership, faced with growing POLISARIO impatience, terms. Ki Hassan recognizes that a harsh Moroccan has inched closer to a unilateral withdrawal from the reaction ag inst Mauritanian peace feelers might Sahara. Public and private Mauritanian statements backfire and drive Nouakchott to renounce its claims have indicated that Nouakchott now: to its portion of the Western Sahara, leaving Rabat even more isolated internationally. For the near term, ? Accepts the principle of Saharan self-determination. Mauritania will probably continue to press the 25X1 Moroccans to take a more flexible approach toward ? Would agree to a referendum under OAU or UN negotiations in return for a pledge from Nouakchott auspices. not to conclude a separate peace with the guerrillas.i ? Admits tacit POLISARIO control of the Mauritanian The principal constraint on Mauritanian freedom to sector of Western Sahara. II seek a unilateral settlement is the presence in ? Mauritanian diplomatic recognition of the Saharan Democratic Arab Republic. By early March, Mauritania's talks with Algeria and the guerrillas appeared to have reached an impasse. 25X1 Troubled Relations With Morocco Mauritania's courting of Algeria and the PoLISARIo Front has created strains in its relations with Raba 5X1 Such is the intention of the Algerians, and the uerrillas, who exploit each opportunity to drive a edge between Rabat and Nouakchott. o l he obvious inability of Mauritania to continue its role n the costly conflict has encouraged Morocco to eassess its position and look for a political rather than ilitary_solution. Both Morocco and Mauritania now gree on the need for a negotiated settlement, but they Mauritania of a 6,000- to 8,000-man Moroccan military force sent there in 1975-76 a_t the request of the Ould Daddah government. After the coup the new government requested their withdrawal. King Hassan grudgingly acceded, apparently in the belief that th 5X6 political costs internationally of using Moroccan forces in Mauritania to block a se arate neace prohibitive. 25X6 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 Economic Imperatives 25X1 Arab countries provided $400 million in financial sins on the budget in the past two_ reated severe ears even en though Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other ,ion to withdraw from the Saharan conflict was based argely on its_WOrsenmg_eeonomic situation The war From Nouakcho f zerspective, renewal, of hostilities ould be economically disastrous. Mauritania's deci- Combined with falling iron ore prices, this cut into foreign exchange earnings. Iron ore export earnings f 1977 were $127 million below the average for the he war cut deeply into Mauritania's foreign exchang arnings. Last year repeated guerrilla attacks agains he vital iron ore rail line from the Zouerat mines to t port of Nouadhibou sharply reduced iron ore exports Morocco ontheir dispute n part derives from internal power.po.~it,jcs,. Prexs denLjfendjedic] does not enjoy -and depends_on- Boumedjerte's._pnchallenJg! d authority the support of the Army_t lntil power relationships are sorted out, .Bendjedidand his military backers will probably hold fast, to Boumnediene's Saharan policy to deny powerful rivals any exploitable openings.n upport. During this period an estimated 60 percent of Algeria has noterritoriaj laims oa the Saharan he budget was spent on defense, while nonmilitary although it has steadfast maintained that it is an pending wasreduced by at least 20 percent.interested Harty with pojjtical and security interests to f 11 1 d t t 25X1 previous four years Although a settlement in the Western Sahara would L 25X1 improve Mauritania's long-term economic prospects, several factors preclude a quick recovery. The price of ron ore-which constitutes 86 percent of Mauritania's xports-is depressed on world markets and is not xpected to recover soon. Mauritania therefore will eed to diversify its exports and encourage more rivate participation-both foreign and domestic-in evelopment schemes. Saudi Arabia and other affluent rab states will remain necessary important sources of nvestment capital and financial assistanc4 ew Regime's Position Toward Conflict There is no slackening of support for the POj,1 xiQ Front in the new Algerian Government under Chadli Bendjedid, who was elected President on 7 February. as become clear that Algerian support for the nediene's death was government policy as well as a ersonal commitment by Boumediene. The new leadership has emphasized continuity with Boumediene's Saharan policy, implying support for naximum POLISARio objectives. The inflexibility of Algeria regarding a face-saving compromise with rva e protect. in keeping with its care u y cu anticolonial image, Alger' a has publicly supported a referendum on self-determination for the people of Sahar The realities of Algeria's position are more complex; Western Sahara is but one aspect of the larger problems of Algeria's relations with Morocco and M ghrebstability. Algiers opposes Moroccan absorp- tion of the northern Sahara, with its rich phosphate deposits, because this could reduce Algerian pre- eminence in northwest Al rica. The ideological diverg- ence between socialist Algeria and the traditional monarchy of Morocco ha,- intensified their geopolitical competition. Moreover, the specter of an irredentist Morocco, which has laid claim to part of Algeria, and memories of the 1963 border war have not faded Views Toward a Peaceful Settlement Algeria's role will be crucial if there is to be a negotiated settlement oft he Western Sahara conflict. Only Algeria has the leverage to persuade the guerril- las to come to the conference table. The Algerians provide the YOLISARIO F,t-ont with vital military assist- ance-sanctuary, arms, and training-without which the guerrillas' fighting Capability would be seriously impaired. The chances are very slip-: that Algiers.-Will decrease its support of the guerrillas in an effort to force them to accept asettlement that falls short of Saharan self- determination. There would seem to be little incentive for Algiers to abandon a 'iolicy that is succeeding in weakening its regional rival at relatively little cost. 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 "25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A00080013000 c1ret The Algerians have little interest in extricating Hassan from a war t aecoming an increasingly serious poffical liability for him. They would probate prefer keeping the Moroccan Army bogged down in a long and costly insurgenc y in the hope that Moroccan -- _ military coup plotters, war-weary and disgruntled with Morocco's mounting economic problems, will topple Hassan. Algerian leaders would see the end of the Alaoi ffiasty as forestalling indefinitely Moroccan aspirations for hegemony in North Africa and clearing Small Cost of the War Algiers can sustain its commitment, to their. a relatively small cost. It presently provides financing arms aid, logistical support, and a haven for both ro%tsaRlo fighters and some 20,000 to 402000 refugee near Tindouf. Financing the insurgency has not been significant drain on Algerian resources and has not interfered with economic development, Algeria's num ber-one priority. The proportion of Algeria's budget spent on national defense fell from 14 percent in 1976 to 10 percent in 1978,ethe _latter amounting to $469 million. It is not clear that these figures include support for the POLISARIo Front. Such financial outlays, in any event are probably small because the guerrillas have been supplied only with small arms, ammunition, and light equipment. Morocco's Limited Options Political Repercussions The stability of King Hassan's regime is closely tied t the outcome of his Saharan venture. Hassan com- mitted his personal prestige to this policy. His success in forcing Spain in 1 5 to relinquish its Saharan province to Morocco and Mauritania greatly boosted his popular image initially, but enthusiasm has waned in the face oJ' military stalemate and rising costs. (s) Morocco's leadership, despite setbacks in the war, continues to view annexation of Morocco's portion of the Sahara as vital in domestic political as well as national strategic terms. Hassan links the successful absorption of the-Sahara-to his ability to compete `2 "X1 his primary geopolitical rival, Algeria. Having com- mitted hi s personal prestige, moreover, Hassan would lose considerable domestic support he were to back away fr 25X1 The King's objective of absorbing the northern sector of the Western Sahara as an integral part of Morocco is popular, but his failure to achieve results is not. The unending conflict over mineral-rich Western Sahara is Hassan's principal preoccupation. Complaints from Moroccan citizens about the costs of the war and fr25X1 - students about the sacrifices involved in holding on to he Sahara have increased markedly. .The King's 25X1 oderate response to a highly embarrassing POLISAR10 aid in late January on the southern Moroccan tow128X1 antan-even though intended to keep the door open or negotiations-evoked w' overnmen 25)41 he principal constraint on-Hassan in preserving his old on power is the loyalty of the armed forces. That oyalty cannot be taken for granted; the leaders of the wo coup attempts in 1971 and 1972 came from the enior officer corps. Military officers, like their civilian ounterparts, support Morocco's annexation of West- rn Sahara, but they are increasingly frustrated with he unending guerrilla war there. The inevitable trainsotl.troops engaged in a no-win situation in the esolate Sahara have compounded other morale prob- ems-poor discipline, lackluster leadership, and a Foor logistics system.) 25X1 assan's options in_reaching a resolution of the three- ear long_conflict that will leave his power intact are xtremely limited..The Moroccan Army has demon- trated its inability to bring the insurgency under ontrol and_is steadily losing group to the guerrillas. assan recognizes that a political settlement offers the my hope of extricating himself from this predicament. t. is difficult, however, to visualize fruitful negotia- ions given the inflexible positions of his _opponents nd the lack of incentive to push them to compromise. Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Moroccan soldiers and equipment captured during raid on Tantan. Morocco ing it. With the cooperation of or coercion from the 25X1 ilassan's ability to obtain a political settlement de- he may eventuallJ cry some b olchimtitive pends on a shared perception by all parties that a Army, major concessions, to break out of s ilitary solution is impossible and Morocco's willing including hi-'-' to make previously unpalatable territorial conces- increasingly constricting predicament. ions. Algeria and the guerrillas may increasingly elieve that a military solution in their favor is-in -deed Economic Constraints ossible. The cool response of Algeria's new leadership The Saharan venture is unlikely to divert popular o the Moroccan Foreign Minister's peace feeler in an opinion much longer from chronic economic problems pen letter on 1 February does not augur well for an f unemployment, inflation, and depressed wages, arly negotiated settlement which are causing social unrest The Western Sahara conflict has contributed to a marked downturn in he declining fortunes of the Moroccan Army are Moroccan economic growth since late 1977 following __- five years of expansion.other factors contributing to onverging with increasingly pressing domestic prob the economic slowdown are depressed prices for ems; together they encourage domestic opposition and v phosphates-Morocco's leading export--and Euro- eaken the King's position. In the absence of a pean Community import restrictions on other Moroc- everely olitieal tested solution, in the the King's political skills will be 5X1 can exports such as textiles. year ahead. At some point Hassan ma conclude that the risk of ontinuing the present policy outweighs that of chang- 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20: CIA-RDP80T00942A00080013anel1 Morocco's overall economic situation in 1979 appears avoid unnecessarily alienating the Moroccans, with considerably less favorable than it was two years ago. whom they have netiated a major deal involving Foreign exchange holdings have declined steeply since phosphates. In addition, neither the Arab nor African mid-1977. Rabat has been forced to resort to large nations were backing the Algerian position, and the scale foreign borrowing to finance a reduced version of Soviets did not want to be openly identified with a less- an ambitious development program begun in 1975. Morocco's foreign indebtedness rose by about 50 percent to $4 billion during 1977 and by September 1978 was nearly $5 billion. Sizable expenditures on military operations in the than-popular cause. The Soviets have longstanding and expanding military assistance programs, a substantial economic aid pro- ram and significant trade ties with Algeria. The - 25X1 I fS t l Western Sahara have aggravated budgetary problem Although a foreign-financed defense budget-$800 million from Saudi Arabia alone-paid for many of the outlays through 1977, there have been large indirect costs that have fallen on the Moroccans. An estimated 40 percent of Morocco's 1978 budget of $4. billion went for military expenditures and the outlay i likely to be as high this year. Morocco's financial problems reached crisis propor- tionsafter Saudi aid flows were cut in early 1978. Since then, the burden of the Saharan war and the military modernization program has weighed heavily on Morocco. This setback, if not overcome, will force King Hassan to reconsider how much longer Morocc can finance the war. Soviet Role Soviet sympathy for the Algerian position on the Sahara issue is clear. The Soviets have supported Algeria's calls in the United Nations for self-determi- nation for the Sahara, and they have collaborated wit Libya in support of Algeria and the POLISARIO. n egra ion o oviet mi rtary equipment into the lgerian armed forces and its reliance on Soviet echnical expertise have led to an expanded Soviet resence there. An estimated 1,000 Soviet military ersonne7 and 2 500 civilians are currently in Algeria. 25X1 ven so, Algiers has been an inconsistent friend. It has ublicly attacked Soviet aspirations in the Middle East nd has rejected a special Soviet role among the 25X1 onaligned. The late President Boumediene period- ally called for the removal of the Soviet as well as the S Navies from the Mediterranean 25X1 he Soviets have apparently decided that they have ttle to gain by more forthright support for Algiers, Ithough they remaina reliable source of military upplies. Although sympathetic to Algeria's interest in enying the. Western Sah ra to-Morocco, lbIoscow fias - cen publicly neutral on the issue in recent years and as withheld recognition of the Sahar-a-n-5-e-mocid-tic rab Republic. The Soviets do not want to risk their rowing economic stake in Morocco-,and-they will obably keep Algeria uncertain about Soviet backing 25X1 I the event of hostilities. - Indirect support of the POLISARIO offers several advantages to the Soviets. They have been able to avoi being pulled into deeper involvement in the crisis, particularly when direct clashes have occurred be- tween Afgerian/POLISARIO forces and Moroccan forces in the Sahara. The Soviets have also been able t 25X1 he POLISARIO guerrillas currently count for little in oscow's calculations. The Soviets are undoubtedly are of the movemdnt pot ial value, but they cognize that Algeria wants to remain POLiSAxto's rincipalrorcign bilker. Moscow probably would not ant to jeopardize its ties with Algeria by seeking to fluence Algeria's POLISARIO clients. Moscow has not Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 provided the POLISARJo any direct military support, but it has made no attempt to block Algeria's transfer of Soviet weaponry to the guerrillas. Political differences between Morocco and the USSR States moved dramatic, Illy to inre military ship ments to Rabat, the Sox iets would be under much greater pressure to respond with substantial resupply of Algeria. over Soviet and Cuban activity in Africa have not French Interests curbed the growth of commercial dealings that could President Giscard, like 'pis predecessors, sees North make Rabat the Soviet Union's most important Africa as France's natu -al sphere of influence and trading partner in Africa. The short-term prospects for believes France has a special responsibility to ensure Soviet political gains in Morocco are not good, but the stability and preserve French and to a lesser extent Soviets may see in their commercial relations the basis Western interests there A durable solution would for influence over the longer term0 xtricate, France from a conflict that threatens Of enduring importance to both countries is the $2 billion economic aid agreement signed in March 1978 for the development of the Meskala phosphate de- posits. This 30 year arrangement-which could rise to $9 billi n with_trade and credit transactions-is the largest single accord Moscow has ever negotiated with a Third World country. It underscores the importance to the Soviet agricultural program of developing a stable source for this critical fertilizer component. A fishing agreement was signed the following month after Moscow assured Algeria that the agreement did not contain an implicit recognition of Moroccan claims to Western Sahara territorial waters. Moscow has also supplied to Morocco minor amounts of military equipment. 1 f the current level of fighting in the Sahara continues, the Soviets are likely to try to pursue their balancing act. In order to reaffirm their credentials with the new, regime in Algiers, they may expedite deliveries of arms to Algeria, but they would probably couple this with intensified efforts to assuage Rabat. Should large-scale fighting break out, the Soviets would offer political backing to Algeria and probably make at least a limited effort to resupply Algerian arsenals. This might consist of some resupply flights and an increased flow of seaborne arms deliveries. Nevertheless, Moscow is not likely to underwrite an all-out Algerian military effort against Morocco. C The attitude of the United States toward a Moroccan- Algerian conflict would have an important bearing on Soviet policy. The Soviets do not currently view the Sahara issue as a superpower contest. But if the United xtemely important if not vital French interests. Many ousands of French live: and work in the former North frican colonies in.positions ranging from senior dvisers and company directors to mechanics and shop lerksl aris is primarily conce: ned that the moderate govern- ent of King Hassan '. hich faces manifold domestic nd foreign policy probl ms including the Western ahara, will be replace(: by a "progressive" regime as ifficult to deal with as Xlgeria. Although officially eutral in the Western Sahara dispute, France is pro- oroccan because of its, economic interests in and ilitary relationship wit h Morocco and the congruence f French and Morocca i security interests elsewhere Africa he French do not want a -widening of the fighting in he Sahara nor a greats: French military role, but they ave been frustrated by the impotence of the auritanian Army--w iich they have been helping to rain-to control the PCfLISARio or protect French terests in Mauritania. ith the changes of go, ernment in Algeria and auritania, France has tried to adopt a more balanced osition. It has been act ing as broker, but with little uccess. Paris wants to continue to improve its relation- hip with Algeria, with which it has more important rade tiesthan it has wi h Morocc ranee has demonstratc3 in-the past, however, that it is illing to risk Algerian hostility as well as domestic nd international criticism by taking military action gainst the POLL' ARION+ hen it believes its interests are hreatendd: Tn the wince r of 1977-78 and again in May 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130058T4 1978 France carried out effective air strikes in _---- .__-- retaliation against the POLISARIO in Mauritania for the taking ofFrenc-l hostages from the mining complex at Zouerat.- 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 su_bsequen-t 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 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. If unsuccessful, they probably would expedite delivery o 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 ho the Mediterranean coast of Morocco are coveted by Moroccans; grid 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, are vulnerable to Moroccan-,Algerian-, and POLISARIO-sponsored attacks the fishing grounds Wihe Saharan coast 25X1 The transition to democracy in Spain has also brought pressure on the government from the socialists-the principal opposition party-who threw their support 25X1 the Algerian-backed POLISARIO Front in 1977. 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 POLISARiO; he also seemed to be moving toward a rapprochement with Algeria last fall when Boumediene's declining health interrupted negotiations. I 25X1 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 possi6Ty offering to mediate. 25X1 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. Spain continues to pay lipservice to the Madrid Tripartite Agreement of November 1975, in which Madrid surrendered administrative power over the SpanjT ahara to Morocco and Mauritania. This position-is- calculated t 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, whos aspirations toward independence must be determined in a UN-sponsored referendum. 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 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 b Spanish forces in early 1976 and perhaps a lltate S apish access to the phosphate deposits in he-SaTara. - - 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X6 25X1 25X6 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 No Settlement in Sight There seems to be little immediate prospect of a peaceful solution to the Saharan dispute, and the war is likely to drag on through its fourth year. Desultory settlement efforts between Morocco and Algeria had stalled at the time of Algerian President Boumediene' has yet shown a willingness to back away from its basi position. Although changes of governments in Algeria and Mauritania might have been expected to break th stalemate, the dispute now seems even less tractable,.. The continuing negotiating deadlock is attributable t Western Sahara are growing relative to those of the increasingly frustrated, dispirited, and ineffectual Moroccan Army. The guerrillas' battlefield successes are reinforcing the Algerians in their rigid Saharan policy. The Algerians show no sign of considering the withdrawal of their support to the guerrillas, the one pressure tactic that might compel the guerrillas to settle for something less than independence in all of th, former Spanish Sahara. The POLISARio Front seems more concerned with consolidating its military gains against an increasingly isolated Morocco than with formulating a negotiating position. For his part, King Hassan is presently consider compromises-self-determination and terri- torial concessions-that might encourage Algiers - to press the guerrillas to adopt a more flexible posture. Hassan is likely to continue to temporize, perhaps hoping that outside powers-France or the United States, for example-will encourage Algeria to chang its policies. He may, also believe that he needs Arab_ mediation to provide a suitable framework to rationalize territorial concessions in the interests of Arab unity. The ou1linea pf a politieta settlement are hard to "visualize, given the prescnt positions of the parties, and the likelihood s,high t,b~ t the insurgency will continue to thr.ea.t_en regional stability for some time. Restraints Against a Moroccan-Algerian War Costly and embarrassinj; attacks on Moroccan terri- tort', f,,rQm_ lgerian Abased POLISARIO guerrillas no doubt will continae, aijO. King Hassan may be pres- sured into a more aggressive military policy toward Algeria. There is wide support in Morocco for direct strikes against POLtsARtj) sanctuaries near Tindouf in Algeria, even at the risk of war with Algeria.F Hassan's military alternatives for mounting a punitive operation against Algeria appear as bleak as his options to reach a politic-al settlement of the conflict with the PoLISARIO. WJule the King may permit commando raids against PoLtsARio outposts near the Algerian border to assuage public opinion, he is unlikely to mount operations that would draw Algerian regular forces into the fighting. Given Algerian military strength in, tb,g Tindouf area, the chances of a successful Moroccan conventional attack are slight, and the costs are likely to be high. II Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1 Next 32 Page(s) In Document Exempt Approved For Release 2005/07/20 : CIA-RDP80T00942A000800130002-1