home1911 A group
of South Africans took part in the Trans-Saharan Ostrich Expedition
to claim the Barbary Ostrich from French West Africa. They then sold
the expensive plumes to milliners in across American and Europe.
(Econ, 6/4/11, p.95)
1974 A Spanish census was
conducted in Western Sahara.
(SFC, 4/24/98, p.A12)
1975 May, Spain moved out of
Spanish Sahara and the native Sahrawi called for independence. Both
Morocco and Mauritania laid claim to Spanish Sahara (Western Sahara)
following Spain’s withdrawal. The Polisario Front, an armed
nationalist movement, sought to turn Western Sahara into an
independent state for its largely nomadic people.
6/7/00, p.A1)(Econ, 9/24/05, p.56)
1975 Nov 6, Morocco occupied
Western Sahara. King Hassan dispatched 350,000 unarmed Moroccans on
a "Green March" to the former Spanish Sahara. This began a long war
with the Polisario Front guerrilla group, tribal Bedouin who sought
(SFC, 5/7/97, p.C2)(SFC, 7/24/99, p.A9)(WSJ,
6/7/00, p.A1)(SFC, 11/27/00, p.A8)
1976 Sahrawis of Western Sahara
proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
(Econ, 8/28/04, p.76)
1988 Dec 19, Polisario Front
fighters opened fire on two DC-7s chartered by USAID to spray for
locusts over Morocco. One crashed, killing all five crew onboard.
1991 A cease-fire was declared
between the Polisario Front and Morocco. The 2 parties agreed on an
all-or-nothing referendum to be held in 1998.
(SFC, 5/15/96, p.A-10)(SFC, 4/24/98, p.A12)
1996 May 15, The UN closed its
offices in Western Sahara due to a deadlock over election
registration. 4/5 of Western Sahara is under Moroccan
administration. The Polisario Front claims that Morocco is packing
the electoral rolls with supporters having only tenuous links with
the territory. Polisario has declared an independent republic and
said this is recognized by more than 70 countries.
(SFC, 5/15/96, p.A-10)
1997 The UN sent former James
Baker, former US Sec. of State, to negotiate a new agreement between
Morocco and the Polisario Front of Western Sahara, but Morocco
rejected his plan.
(Econ, 9/24/05, p.56)
1998 Apr 24, It was reported
that the referendum on independence would be postponed until 1999
due to difficulties in counting eligible voters.
(SFC, 4/24/98, p.A12)
1998 Oct 30, The UN extended
its 460-member peacekeeping force in the Western Sahara over land
contested between Morocco and the Algerian-based Polisario Front.
(SFC, 10/31/98, p.A15)
2002 Nov 6, In Morocco King
Mohammed VI said the call for a referendum in Western Sahara to
determine whether the people want independence is "null" and
"inapplicable," his first public dismissal of the plan first put
forward in 1991.
2003 Jul 12, Western Sahara's
rebels unexpectedly accepted a peace plan for the mineral-rich
region, but Morocco remained opposed.
2003 Sep 1, A rebel group
trying to win independence for the Western Sahara has released 243
Moroccan prisoners, some of whom have been held for nearly three
decades. It was the first prisoner release since the UN Security
Council voted in July to urge Morocco and the Polisario to accept a
new plan to settle the long-running dispute over the Western Sahara.
2004 Sep 15, South Africa
formally recognized the pro-independence government in the annexed
Moroccan territory of Western Sahara (Sahrawi statehood), prompting
Rabat to recall its ambassador from Pretoria in protest.
(AP, 9/16/04)(Econ, 10/30/04, p.53)
2004 Toby Shelley authored
“Endgame in the Western Sahara: What Future for Africa’s Last
(Econ, 8/28/04, p.75)
2005 Aug 18, Western Sahara
guerrillas released their last Moroccan prisoners, 404 soldiers held
for up to 20 years from a long-ended war over the barren but
2006 Mar 25, Morocco's King
Mohammed VI wrapped up a 6-day visit to Western Sahara with talks on
a plan to give the territory greater autonomy which will be
submitted soon to the UN.
2006 Apr 22, Morocco's King
Mohammed VI pardoned all prisoners from the disputed territory of
Western Sahara currently being held in jails in the kingdom.
2006 Nov 27, Authorities of
Western Sahara recovered the bodies of three children which washed
up at a beach, bringing to 13 the number of migrant children who
drowned when their small boat sank in the Atlantic.
2006 Dec 5, Pro-Moroccan
leaders in the Western Sahara presented a self-rule plan for a
government, parliament and legal system in the territory, while
acknowledging Rabat's sovereignty.
2007 Feb, In Western Sahara
Muhammad Abdelaziz, leader of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab
Democratic Republic, marked the 31st birthday of his would-be state.
An estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees languished in Algeria
subsisting on foreign aid.
(Econ, 3/10/07, p.43)
2007 Apr 11, Morocco presented
its plan to grant self-rule to the disputed Western Sahara territory
to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon.
2007 May 20, Police in
Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara arrested three leading human rights
campaigners following weeks of crackdowns against students and
activists in the territory.
2007 Jul 2, UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reissued a report on the Western
Sahara that eliminated controversial recommendations on the future
of the disputed region.
2008 Jan 9, The latest round of
UN-led peace talks between Morocco and the pro-independence
Polisario Front ended in stalemate, with the two sides agreeing to
try again in March to resolve a 32-year dispute for control of
2008 Apr 27, A summit aimed at
kick-starting Maghreb economic integration was disrupted when
Moroccan and Algerian government ministers clashed over the disputed
Western Sahara region.
2008 Jun 30, The Socialist
International (SI), meeting in Lagonissi, Greece, granted observer
status to the Polisario Front, a group fighting for full
independence in Western Sahara. The disputed Western Sahara region
is largely controlled by Morocco, but the Algerian-backed Polisario
Front is committed to securing independence.
2008 Sep 16, Malawi withdrew
its recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR),
proclaimed by the Polisario Front in the disputed territory of
Western Sahara. SADR was declared in 1976 by the Polisario Front, a
rebel movement that wants independence for Western Sahara. Their a
guerilla war against Rabat's forces ended with a ceasefire in 1991.
2009 Apr 11, Morocco blamed
Algeria for a "serious and blatant" violation by the Polisario Front
of an 18-year-long ceasefire in the disputed Western Sahara and
urged the UN to intervene.
2009 Nov 13, Moroccan
authorities detained a Western Sahara activist close to the
Polisario Front rebels, Aminatou Haidar, in the disputed territory's
main city. Haidar, the winner of several human rights awards, was
arrested on her arrival in Laayoune from Spain's Canary Islands.
Immigration officials immediately sent her back to Spain’s Canary
Islands after confiscating her passport. She used her Spanish
residency permit to re-enter the country and began a hunger strike
in Laayoune at midnight on Nov 15.
(AFP, 11/13/09)(AFP, 11/21/09)
2009 Dec 14, Morocco charged
that Aminatou Haidar, a Sahrawi activist on hunger strike in Spain's
Canary Islands, is part of a "systematic, methodical plot devised by
Algeria." Haidar (42) has been on hunger strike for almost a month
on Lanzarote, after being refused entry to the Western Sahara, which
is territory occupied by and claimed by Morocco.
2009 Dec 18, Aminatou Haidar, a
Western Sahara independence activist, returned home after a 32-day
hunger strike at a Spanish airport, defusing a diplomatic spat
between Spain and Morocco and potentially strengthening separatist
2010 Nov 8, In Western Sahara a
paramilitary gendarme and a fireman were killed and almost 70 people
badly injured when Moroccan forces raided a camp outside Laayoune. A
Moroccan raid to clear a refugee camp in the Western Sahara left at
least 12 refugees dead and more than 700 wounded, while another 159
are missing. Moroccan authorities announced 11 deaths on their side
after the clash.
(AFP, 11/8/10)(AFP, 11/9/10)(AFP, 11/11/10)(AFP,
2010 Nov 13, In Western Sahara
a statement from the prosecution services in the territory's main
town of Laayoune said 67 people accused of crimes against the
security forces and destruction of public and private property had
been arrested, seven of whom had been cleared. Moroccan authorities
said they had arrested 96 people accused of inciting violence during
the controversial police raid on a squatter camp near Laayoune.
(AP, 11/13/10)(AFP, 11/13/10)
2010 Nov 25, European lawmakers
voted in favor of an independent, UN-backed investigation into
violence in Western Sahara that has left up to 11 people dead in the
2010 Nov 27, Morocco’s foreign
minister in a published interview rejected a probe into violent
clashes between its security forces and residents of Western Sahara
by the UN. A day earlier, Human Rights Watch said Moroccan security
forces repeatedly beat and abused people they detained during
disturbances in Western Sahara earlier this month.
(AFP, 11/27/10)(AFP, 11/26/10)
2010 Nov 28, Hundreds of
thousands of Moroccans demonstrated against a Spanish political
party's criticism of their country's raid on a protest camp in
2011 Jan 12, Morocco’s interior
minister said soldiers had turned a blind eye to the smuggling of
weapons that were seized in the recent dismantlement of a terrorist
cell with links to Qaida's North African branch. 5 Moroccan soldiers
stationed in disputed Western Sahara were arrested for accepting
kickbacks and allowing smuggled goods into the occupied territory.
(AP, 1/12/11)(AFP, 1/13/11)
2011 Jun, UN Statistics
Division said 70 territories would be holding censuses in 2011. Only
Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Somalia, Uzbekistan and Western Sahara would
fail to hold a count in this ten-year round.
(Econ, 6/4/11, p.71)
2011 Sep 25, In Western Sahara
7 people, including two policemen, were killed in fighting that
broke out after a weekend football match in Dakhla. On Oct 11 jail
terms were announced for 11 people over their involvement in the
(AFP, 9/27/11)(AFP, 10/11/11)
2011 Dec 14, European
Parliament lawmakers blocked a deal allowing special access for EU
fishermen to Moroccan waters, prompting Rabat to issue an immediate
ban on European fishing boats. European lawmakers said they wanted
to wanted to wait until the interests of Western Sahara trawlers
were taken on board before agreeing to a 12-month extension.
2012 May 17, Morocco's said
that it had lost confidence in veteran US diplomat Christopher Ross,
the UN envoy on Western Sahara. Ross was forced to call off plans to
carry out his first official trip to the disputed territory.
2012 Nov 7, Morocco's Interior
Ministry said it has expelled 15 Spanish and four Norwegian
journalists from the annexed territory of the Western Sahara for
entering without permission.
2013 Oct 20, In Western Sahara
bloody clashes erupted between police and pro-independence
protesters as a UN envoy wrapped up his latest visit to the disputed
2013 Dec 7, Moroccan police
violently suppressed a peaceful protest in the Western Sahara
against a planned EU fishing accord with Rabat that covers the
disputed territory's waters.