March 4, 2024

The conflict in Western Sahara began in 1975 after Spain withdrew as a colonial power, allowing Morocco to occupy the region (where it staked a historical claim). Morocco’s occupation was contested by the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) movement that had been formed to fight for independence from Spain. Initially, the Polisario launched an effective guerrilla campaign against the Moroccan army, with external support from Algeria and Libya. By the mid-1980s however, the COIN force was able to gain the upper hand by attracting significant military assistance from the United States and France and building more than 1,000 miles of defensive sand berms that cut insurgents off from Saharan population centers and their sources of material support.

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Source: JSTOR

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