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Minurso United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara: Peace Operation Stalled in the Desert, 1991-2021

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The conflict in Western Sahara is one of the oldest ones of recent times, dating back to 1975, when Morocco and Mauritania attacked and occupied the entire territory of former Spanish Sahara. However, the natives waged a guerrilla war against the occupying armies. Having the weaker army, Mauritania defeated and made peace with the Polisario Front - which represents the indigenous peoples - after a three-year conflict. The war between the Sahrawi guerrillas and the Moroccan Army has been raging for years with varying degrees of effectiveness, with significant personal and material losses for the opposing parties. After 25 years fighting, under international pressure, the opposing parties made peace, then in September 1991, the MINURSO peacekeeping operation to implement the referendum in Western Sahara began work. Although the opposing parties had previously agreed to a referendum to decide the fate of the area, it has yet to take place, and even today, contrary to its previous promises, Morocco is now only willing to grant a "high degree of autonomy" in the occupied Western Sahara. The Sahrawis refuse to accept this, thus the conflict has not ended to this day, and even in 2020, hostilities resumed between the opposing parties and a conflict of limited intensity has been going on ever since. MINURSO, which has been in operation for more than 30 years, has not been able to achieve the goal of holding a referendum for which it was set up, and as the only UN mission it cannot address the human rights situation in its area of operation, which also raises questions. The opposing parties have repeatedly violated ceasefire agreements in the past decades and restricted the activities and free movement of the mission and its personnel, which has put MINURSO in a "dormant" state. For years, the world's leading politicians have stressed that while running the mission will cost a lot of money, at least thanks to the peacekeepers, the status quo stands and there is no war. This, however, has not been the case since 2020 and it is not known whether the opposing parties will be able to establish anything similar to the 1990 agreement, or whether the limited conflict will continue or even escalate, leading to a regional war between the opposing parties and Algeria supporting the Sahrawis.

The author of the book, János Besenyő, is a professor at the Óbuda University in Budapest, Hungary, who himself served as a peacekeeper in MINURSO presents the history of the area, the path leading to the creation of the mission, and its operation over the past three decades. In the creation of the book, he used several previously unpublished documents as well as several previously unpublished photographs taken by peacekeepers. This book is recommended not only to military, foreign policy and diplomatic experts, but also to anyone else interested in the history of the region, the events there, and the oldest peacekeeping operation in Africa.

ISBN-13: 9781804512067

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Helion & Company

Publication Date: 05-31-2023

Pages: 96

Series: Africa@War