Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Earl Conteh-Morgan

Keywords

Northwest Africa, Polisario Front, Sahrawi, Stability

Abstract

Western Sahara has been in a state of political crisis since Spain granted the territory to Morocco and Mauritania in 1975. While Morocco has attempted to incorporate the region within its borders, the Polisario Front (Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro) has challenged Morocco's claims and proclaimed they are the voice of the indigenous Sahrawi people. Algeria, home to a majority of the Sahrawi refugees, continues to support the Polisario and their goal of independence from Morocco.

Yet, does Algeria have an ulterior motive for their actions beyond support for a displaced people? This thesis examines how Algeria has utilized the Western Sahara conflict to undermine Morocco's plans for incorporating the territory. Applying hegemonic stability and rivalry theory to the conflict, Algeria's methods of challenging Moroccan claims are analyzed to see how its actions have weakened the objectives of Morocco towards Western Sahara as well as the perception of Morocco within the Maghreb region and internationally. The thesis suggests that as Algeria continues its support for the Polisario, it may have successfully challenged Morocco's attempt to incorporate the territory within its borders.

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