By Karla Dieseldorff
By Karla Dieseldorff
New York – Moroccan political analyst Samir Bennis, Ph.D., talks about the history and conflict of today’s so-called Western Sahara and provide a number of historical and legal facts that are often overlooked by international media.
In this first episode of a series of videos on the topic of the Sahara dispute, Bennis gives a timeline of the historical facts of the region, explaining the events of the “missing years” of the dispute, starting from 1884 through 1906.
According to him, proponents of the Polisario have been distorting the historical and legal facts that prove that the Sahara has always belonged to Morocco and that Spain’s occupation of the region in 1884 was a violation of international law.
Bennis refutes the argument that the Sahara was Spanish and reveals how Spain acquired full possession and sovereignty of the territory without Morocco’s consent, in total defiance of international law.
To back his statement, he refereed to the agreement signed in March 1895 between Morocco and the UK on the legal status of the Sahara.
“The agreement signed between Morocco and the UK in 1895 recognized that the territory between Cap Juby (the area near Tarfaya) and Cap Bojador (present day so-called Western Sahara), belonged to Morocco. From then until 1904, when the UK signed an agreement with France, the British, as well as the French and the Spaniards recognized that this territory was under Moroccan sovereignty,” he noted.
He went on to say that the agreement signed by France and Spain in October 1904 on the division of their spheres of influence in Morocco was a violation of international law, in that neither Morocco nor the UK were informed of France’s decision to enable Spain to have full sovereignty over the Sahara.
“By virtue of the French-Spanish accord of October 1904, Spain was given possession not sphere of influence of the disputed territory, without informing Morocco or seeking the approval of the British, who had signed an agreement recognizing its sovereignty over the territory,” the Moroccan political analyst stresses.
He quoted American scholar Frank E. Trout who said in his book Moroccan Saharan Frontiers, published in 1974, that France’s decision to give the Sahara to Spain in full possession was a violation of international law.
Bennis said that even if the UK had given its formal approval of the 1904 French-Spanish agreement, Spain’s sovereignty over the Sahara was still contrary to international law, since there was no renunciation of the agreement signed between Morocco and the British government in March 1859.
The British approval of the agreement “would have meant a unilateral- and presumably secret- renunciation of the agreement signed with Morocco in 1859, which have been meaningless since Morocco was not informed of the renunciation,” he said.