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Western Sahara /
Polisario
From Spanish: Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia El-Hamra y Rio de Oro



Polisario

Polisario

Polisario

Army of Western Sahara, that was for years fighting the Moroccan and for 4 years Mauritanian occupation of Western Sahara, an occupation that started in 1975 (for Mauritania until 1979).
Polisario was formed in 1973, as a reaction towards several broken promises on Saharan independence from the Spanish colonalist regime.
Polisario has since 1975 been stationed in Tindouf, the westernmost town in Algeria. While the exact numbers of the troops are not known, most estimates set it at around 10,000, but this number is probably declining.
Polisario was led by a former member of the Communist Party in Morocco, Mustapha Ouali, at the time of the occupation. His fighting with the Polisario started well into the period of Spanish colonization.
Polisario had so much success fighting Mauritania, which for the first years was the main enemy, that the occupation ended on this side. But despite the peace treaty between the two parties, signed August 5, 1979, the southern third of Western Sahara was passed on to the far stronger Morocco. Morocco has since then managed to fight off Polisario, apparently now for good, as a 1,600 km long sand wall has been built along the border, making it very difficult for Polisario's army to pass. The result has been the UN peace plan of 1988, that in reality has given Morocco a carte blanche in the region, and the proposed referendum on the future of Western Sahara, has been put off time after time for the last 12 years.
At the present, Polisario's cause seems to be lost, their troops are outnumbered by Morocco's, Libya's and especially Algeria's support for Polisario — a precondition for their continued fighting — has dwindled quicker than international and African attention to the claim on independence for Western Sahara has disappeared from the news headlines.

History
2003 September 1: Polisario releases 243 Moroccan prisoners after an initiative by the Red Crescent.
2005 August 18: Polisario releases the last remaining 404 Moroccan prisoners.




By Tore Kjeilen