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Intel: Why Bolton’s Africa comments must be freaking out Morocco

An UN vehicle arrives to the headquarters of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) on May 13, 2013 in Laayoune, the main city in the disputed territory. Six Sahrawi activists arrested this month after pro-independence protests in Western Sahara said they were tortured by Moroccan police and made to sign confessions, Amnesty International charged on May 16. The Western Sahara is a highly sensitive subject in Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975 in a mov

When US national security adviser John Bolton unveiled the Donald Trump administration’s new Africa strategy at the Heritage Foundation on Dec. 13, his comments about great power competition with Russia and China stirred much excitement. But remarks every bit as controversial on an obscure, half-century-old dispute between Morocco and Algeria over the status of Western Sahara slipped by unnoticed.

Bolton said the future of more than half a million Sahrawis who inhabit the phosphate-rich former Spanish colony sitting on the edge of the Sahara should be decided in a referendum. Bolton asserted, “All we want to do is hold a referendum for 70,000 voters. It’s 27 years later, the status of the territory [is] still unresolved … Is there not a way to resolve this?”

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