Monday, August 6, 2012

Foreign Policy, Culture and the Past
                Romney's assertion considering Russia as the U.S. number one geopolitical strategic foe was intriguing. Clearly, Romney was, among other things, reiterating talking points his foreign policy advisors taught him. The fact politicians are influenced by their advisors is not a troublesome phenomenon; politicians can't process on their own eve every issue or opportunity and must rely on a large staff dedicated to analyze complex situations and provide the decision-maker with their insights and recommendations. A rational decision making process involves weighing the pros and cons of conflicting ideas. The person of authority decides the best course of action using a process that balances the proposals with his core beliefs and values. Romney’s pool of advisors consists simply of individuals from the previous administration seeking to restore their failed policies rejected and changed by the current government. This pattern can be observed in the international system as a whole; states’ foreign policies change and shifts, sometimes radically, based on the ideology driving the policymaking. In order to ascertain the root causes of these dynamics, we must comparatively and critically analyze whether culture or the past is the overreaching theme shaping the interactions in the international system. The post Arab Spring environment makes such analysis crucially needed in order to predict the interactions involving both state and non-state actors and the possible spread of inter and intrastate conflicts validating Huntington's apocalyptic civilizations clash prophecy.

            Comparative foreign policy contrasts the foreign policies of various States to determine general empirical connections between the attributes of the State and the traits of its foreign policy. The study of foreign policy distinctively links international relations and domestic politics by taking into account both internal and external events’ influence on state conduct. The goal of comparative foreign policy is to confirm recurring and recognizable archetypes; in the quest to distinguish norms of behavior events are not considered historically exclusive, therefore, studying the past is at the core of this discipline. Discovering past patterns is essential to achieve broad awareness and a better ability to anticipate future actions; knowing the factors shaping the choice of entering into a conflict enables us to forecast, influence, and perhaps even avert potential international conflicts. Many scholars argue the past is the driving force of foreign policy due to continuum from past to future; armed with historical knowledge, policy makers caught up in a living moment with no certainty of how things would turn out, approach, analyze, and react to the current challenge based on the lessons learned from the historical past.

            Certainly, traumatic and pleasant experiences take part in molding a state’s identity and its politics and stay resilient in the communal consciousness for numerous generations who have not witnessed the initial or seminal experiences. Ted Hopf asserts past interactions lead individuals to develop habits; habits are spontaneous, oblivious, automatic, and impetuous. Succumbing to habits eliminates shrewdness, agency, and ambiguity, therefore leading to the adoption of a distinct understanding of collaboration, security quandaries, persistent enmities, and security communities in interstate interactions (Hopf, 2010). Habit contrasts with learning because habitual stereotypes are self organized; since individuals are oblivious of their processes they develop a cognitive underpinning for self-fulfilling prophecies. In the case of Russia, it is clear that habit is influencing team Romney’s assessment; Russia’s past since the Tsars was based on a totalitarian culture and political system which always compelled the Kremlin to rely on the Western menace image domestically and undertake a revisionist behavior.

            The past has a dual role; it gives individuals historical icons or "pointers" to associate themselves with and to assemble around, it also provides the essential connection between past and present and future. Dreyer, Colaresi, and Thompson focused on the causality between interstates’ historical past and persistence of rivalries, intractability of conflicts, and escalation of conflicts. Dreyer found that issue conflict buildup is likely to boost the possibility of armed conflict (Dreyer, 2010). Historical memories, either genuine or fictitious, are capable of causing conflicts, prejudice, nationalism, and cultural identities. Due to these historical memories, international rivals frequently vie over numerous issues concomitantly, hence multiplying the antes of the competition. Because of their past, the parties develop deep mistrust towards each other and any gesture from the other side, even if positive, will be viewed with suspicion and interpreted as a threat. Colaresi, and Thompson share the same opinion, they contend disputes in the realm of historical enmity is more complex than conflicts among non rival states (Colaresi and Thompson, 2002). According to their research, a small number of dyads which relations are plagued by an intractable conflict are to blame for the majority of the international conflicts; their past promotes the escalation and amplifies the expectation of continued rivalry. Finally, Cederman revisited Kant’s democratic peace theory and reinterpreted it as a dynamic and dialectical learning process, as it failed to explain why other non democratic dyads have shown a pacifying trend among them (Cederman, 2001).

            Historical memory is the quintessence of communal knowledge that is stored and construed through the socialization process. The usefulness and importance of the lessons of history are undisputed; learning from the past becomes important for providing a sense of direction to policy makers when they face an unfamiliar situation. Nevertheless, making the past the major source of foreign policy hinders the pursuit of national interests. While the past may have influence on foreign policy undertakings as the researchers above contend, deriving foreign policy from the past becomes problematic because all knowledge of history is subjective; the way individuals recall historical information and what they learn from it is subject to interpretation and re-interpretation. The past is static and cannot be changed, foreign policy, however, is never static; it must respond to and initiate actions as circumstances change. Culture is impacted by an ever-changing world as new phenomena of social, intellectual, economic or technical nature emerge. Culture determines the affective and cognitive behaviors which an individual selects to meet environmental demands and in doing so develops or changes current policies. In foreign policy, the notion of culture could be depicted as broad and general beliefs and attitudes about one's own state, about other states, and about the relationships they can realize or that they should realize between the self and other actors in the international system.

            In order to comprehend decision making processes, we have to grasp the influence of information processing and various biases. Culture represents a group’s favored method to sense, evaluate, and systemize the concepts, circumstances, and incidents they come across. Cultures do vary considerably as distinct cultural communities have dissimilar customs, live through different histories, and engage in different practices; therefore a divergence in their styles of thinking and thus in their action is likely. The most important influence of culture is perhaps the gradual formation of one’s way of thinking, which has a strong impact on one’s perception of the outside world and interpretation of oneself and others. This can explain how Rabin's practices and policies created a cultural space in Israeli politics in which a withdrawal from the occupied territories became attractive and well-founded. This cultural shift was facilitated by the Palestinians' own adaptation to the new realities; changing the Charter to remove the destruction of Israel clause was a significantly important trust-building action in the peace process.

            Many scholars developed a culture focused research to determine causality between war and state formation. Taylor and Botea found that ethnic diversity and promulgation of unifying national ideology affected the state formation in post war Afghanistan and Vietnam differently; relative ethnic homogeneity was a significant contributing factor in the building of Vietnam after the long war (Taylor and Botea, 2006). Theis focused on the state building in South America and found that interstate wars did not improve the extractive capacity of the state; in those countries internal rivalries as much of an impact as external threats. This political culture impacted the foreign policy and state building process of  causing it to focus on balancing between the two threats (Theis, 2005). Some however disagree, Duffield contends there is no discernible pattern of influence of culture on Germany’s behavior after unification; Germany’s political culture is greatly shaped by its past experiences and therefore it favors policies of continuity, stability, and restraint rather than resorting to unilateral aggressive behavior (Duffield, 1999). Culture also contributes to trust building, cooperation, and attitudes towards international institutions. In the U.S. Democrats favor cooperation and building alliances to boost legitimacy of foreign policy undertakings, however, Republicans view treaties in their international operations as political obligations restraining the U.S. sovereignty.  This is emphasized in Rathbun’s social psychological theory of international cooperation in which he argues that “multilateralism is a dispositional trait” rather than a reaction to tangible security situation (Rathbun, 2011).

            Perhaps, Huntington’s clash of civilizations theory, due to its grim outlook,  sparked much research that eventually supported the effect of culture on foreign policy, and the likelihood of a future devastating conflict with the Islamic civilization. According to Huntington, “A civilization is the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have.” Extreme divergences and increased contact and visibility will strengthen “civilization consciousness and awareness of differences and commonalities,” thus choices to engage in major conflicts will be based on cultural parameters  (Huntington, 1993). Haynes, shares this concern as he realizes globalization caused many of these cultural differences to be heightened (Haynes, 2005). While is it true that the increase of civilizational conflict with Islamic civilization from Western perspective, the Islamic civilization have cultural conflict with all other civilizations as their past conflicts have always been civilizational (Fox, 2001). This civilizational conflict has been latent as most state actors confined in the Islamic civilization favored secularism and fought radical Islam. Terrorist groups and non-state actors have been so far the flagship in this Civilizational clash; radical Islamists’ culture is based on moral commands and aspirations that are rigid and impregnable. Their belief system is totalitarian, that is, it prohibits coexistence with different ideals and morals and asserts an absolute authority to regulate every aspect in the life of people under its jurisdiction. The civilizational clash is looming in a post Arab spring world where radical Islamist groups have become state actors, the civilizational clash will be twofold; radical Islamists as state actors will attempt to eradicate alternative forms of moral, social, and political though such as secularism and modernism from Muslim societies, and in order to avoid disturbance from the West they will keep them preoccupied with threats from non-state actors; Diasporas in the West will feel the blunt of any civilizational conflict.

            In this particular case, the Muslim and Arab Diaspora in Western societies is experiencing a harsh environment since the terrorists attacks in the host countries involving radicalized and alienated young and well educated Muslims, this environment has results in more quotidian political and social violence which increased radicalization. Western societies are based on the citizens’ commitment to liberal-democratic and humane principles and not to an ethnically-based, cultural community (Shain, 1995). The post 9/11 environment generated mistrust towards this Diaspora; authorities waived privacy rights of certain groups a covert war is being waged to prevent a widespread homegrown terrorism phenomena, some politicians even warn against Muslim extremists’ infiltration of Western governments and call for their dismissal. This will at the end lower the groups’ collective self-esteem, make them reconsider their national identities and allegiances, and increase the likelihood of intergroup bigotry, repression of liberties, and aggression (Spinner-Halev and Theiss-Morse). The problem is, Arab and Muslim diasporas vary widely in degrees of religious involvement and include those who are ultra-orthodox, those who rarely attend mosque, and non-practicing or ex-Muslims who are still part of a Muslim community. Many of them have left their countries because of  home dictatorial regimes supported by the west for decades in the name of combating Islamic radicalization; these people resent radical Islam because they consider it the cause of their grievances. Because the Diaspora is not united their identity has no implication on Western foreign policies (King and Melvin, 2000), however, should a Civilizational conflict erupt they may relate more to the home states and be used as a tool to shape their host states foreign policies through terrorist acts.

            According to Darwinism, species that adjust to their environment prosper; those unsuccessful to progress risk annihilation. Human wellbeing was enhanced as new knowledge defied and ultimately defeated prevalent dogmas, including revered but idiotic beliefs that had been around for centuries. The foreign policy goals and priorities of individual nation states are more impacted with globalization, as such they are compelled to adapt their cultures to an interdependent, multi-polar international environment. However, the challenges facing the international community within the context of globalization include a possible civilizational conflict which may wreck havoc and greatly impact foreign policy choices. In conflict situations several factors influence decisions making processes which at times turn out to be irrational. Occasionally decisions have to be made with incomplete and insufficient information; culture, Judgment, intuition, experience and knowledge all come together when making these decisions.

Colaresi, M. and Thompson, W. R., (2002), "Strategic Rivalries, Protracted Conflict, and Crisis Escalation",      Journal of Peace Research 39(3): 263-287.
Cederman, L. E., (2001), "Back to Kant: Reinterpreting the Democratic Peace as a Macro-historical Learning Process", American Political Science Review 95(1): 15-31.
Dreyer, D., (2010), "Issue Conflict Accumulation and the Dynamics of Strategic Rivalry", International Studies Quarterly 54(3): 779-795.
Duffield, J. S., (1999), "Political Culture and State Behavior: Why Germany Confounds Neorealism", International Organization 53(4): 765-803
Fox, J., (2001), "Two Civilizations and Ethnic Conflict: Islam and the West." Journal of Peace Research             38(4): 459-472.
Haynes J., (2005), "Religion and international relations after '9/11'." Democratization 12(3): 398- 413.
Hopf, T., (2010), "The Logic of Habit in International Relations", European Journal of      International Relations 16(4): 539-561.
Huntington, S. P., (1993), "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs 72(3): 22-49.
King, C., and Melvin, N. J., (2000), "Diaspora Politics: Ethnic Linkages, Foreign Policy, and Security in Eurasia", International Security 24(3): 108-138.
Rathbun, B. C., (2011), "The 'Magnificent Fraud': Trust, International Cooperation, and the Hidden Domestic Politics of American Multilateralism after World War II", International Studies Quarterly 55(1):, 1-21.
Shain, Y., (1995), "Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy" Political Science Quarterly 109(5): 811-841.
Spinner-Halev, J., and Theiss-Morse, E., "National Identity and Self-Esteem" Perspectives on Politics 1(3): 515-532
Taylor, B. D., and Botea, R., (2008), "Tilly Tally: War-Making and State-Making in the Contemporary Third World", International Studies Review 10(1): 27-56.
Theis, C. G., (2005), "War, Rivalry, and State Building in Latin America", American Journal of    Political Science 49(3): 451-465.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The research objective of this paper is to provide background information on the Western Sahara conflict dynamics over the past four decades and explore the effects of this long lasting conflict on the parties. The paper will also identify and analyze the root causes or attractors of the dispute and the influence of the parties’ behavior on the intractability of the conflict. This research about the Western Sahara conflict is relevant because after 16 years of armed conflict the parties reached a stalemate and agreed to a ceasefire, however, after two decades of UN interventions and third party mediations the opposing parties failed to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. This situation is troublesome as any catastrophic change in the Polisario‘s leadership and/or cohesiveness, or political change in Algeria may endanger the cease-fire or push the Sahrawi Nationalists to switch from nonviolence to terrorism. To achieve this goal the research will be focused on the roles and interactions of Polisario and Morocco as concerned parties, and the contributions of other parties in the intractability of this conflict. The point of the departure of the research will be the identification of the groups within the conflict and examine their interactions using the intergroup conflict theory, the research will use the dynamical system theory to analyze the attractors and ascertain the feasibility of a new approach to the conflict that will lead to a fruitful outcome, and the reasons one or both parties may resist conflict resolution. This paper will be based on qualitative methods with case study as strategy focusing on a concise historical background and the concerned parties’ interests. The research expectation is that the theoretical framework will provide a sufficient explanation to the reasons of the conflict’s intractability, with recommendations to prevent escalation provided as a conclusion of the paper.

Western Sahara, Africa’s Last Colony
The Never-ending Conflict: Sovereignty Claims and Self-Determination Rights

            Conflict is at the bedrock of human interactions, it is the foundation of a true democracy as disagreements and disputes often lead to a change beneficial to all parties and provide for accountability and better governance. A serious discrepancy in power distribution leading to exploitation and dominance by the high power group will lead to an increase feeling of depravation among the low power group members and they subsequently chose to confront the other group. The conflict becomes destructive when competition trumps cooperation as the one or both belligerents view the dispute through the zero-sum lens. When the conflict lingers for an extended period and additional components such as identity, ideology, and emotions add to the mix, it becomes intractable. No matter the conditions that feed the fight, intractable conflicts share a common characteristic: they defy settlement because leaders believe their objectives are fundamentally irreconcilable and they have more interest in the ongoing war than in any known alternative state of being. During the first half of the twentieth century, aside from the two devastating world wars, many intractable conflicts were in progress across the globe centered on the independence from colonial powers. Some of these conflicts were violent and extremely deadly such as Algeria and some were characterized by their nonviolence such as India, eventually the United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 Dec. 1960 settled these conflicts as it preserved the rule of self-determination and the right of colonized peoples to independence. 
             The post-colonialism era is an example of a complete change in the interactions between former bitter foes as they became cooperative in many aspects such as economy, defense, education, and allies in the international arena. One country however is still a colony and despite twenty years of UN led mediation effort following a long war, Morocco is still inflexible in its position disallowing the Sahrawi people to opt for independence. I suggest the causes of this entrenchment are the negative political impact of a withdrawal, the cohesiveness of the Moroccan society around the issue, the vested economical interest in continued occupation, and the passivity of the United States and France to enforce the UN resolution through the Security Council. This conflict can regenerate into violence again as the ranks of the Sahrawi are splitting as some no longer believe in a peaceful resolution. In keeping with the duty to protect doctrine and the realistic paradigm, there is a need to enforce the international rule of law in order to avoid a re-escalation of this conflict that could destabilize a region where extremist terrorist groups are active and seek a chaotic environment where they can thrive and prosper.
            The Western Sahara is a vast, sparsely populated territory bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria. A former Spanish colony, the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination was affirmed through a series of resolutions by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly (UNGA, 1966), as well as a milestone 1975 decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ, 1975). Unhappy with these resolutions King Hassan II instigated the “Green March” of over 350,000 unarmed Moroccans into Western Sahara to claim the kingdom’s sovereignty over Western Sahara; subsequently both Mauritania and Morocco invaded the disputed land which led to an exodus of Sahrawi refugees to Algeria (USIP, 2006). The “Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y Río de Oro” (Polisario) proclaimed the independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a government-in-exile, and waged a ferocious war on the invaders.  The Polisario defeated Mauritania in the south; however, Moroccan forces moved into the former Mauritanian occupied territory and established control over the totality of the disputed land (ICG, 2007). From 1975 to 1991, Morocco and the Algerian backed Polisario fought a ferocious guerilla war characterized by violations of Human rights and the Geneva Convention as prisoners of war were held for over 20 years subjected to torture and forced into hard labor. Morocco’s complete control over the coast and central areas of the territory allowed it in later years to build a defensive sand wall that physically partitioned Western Sahara along a 2,000 km line (Appendix: Map of western Sahara). This changed the dynamics of the war as the Polisario became confined to the eastern side of the wall along Western Sahara’s frontiers with Algeria and Mauritania (Zunes and Mundy, 2010). This wall also caused the Sahrawi in the Moroccan controlled territory, who did not swear allegiance to the crown, to be permanently separated from their families (Lippert, 1997).
            By the mid-1980s, a military stalemate became a reality, and both sides became increasingly cooperating with the UN secretary-general attempt in conflict resolution (UNS, 2006). In 1991, following negotiations between the parties, the UN brokered a ceasefire agreement after the Security Council approved a proposal to organize a referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara to allow them to decide between independence and integration with Morocco (USIP, 2006). The plan established a permanent US mission to enforce the cease-fire, facilitate the exchange of prisoners of war, and monitor the decrease of Moroccan forces in the area, and confinement of the belligerents to particular positions (Daadaoui, 2008). From 1991 to 1998 Morocco tried but was not able to register tens of thousands of its green marchers as native Sahrawi eligible to vote (USIP, 2006). Convinced a referendum will not serve its interest, Morocco refused to live up to the terms of the 1991 ceasefire agreement by refusing any referendum that includes independence as an option for the Sahrawi (Shelly, 2004). 
              From that point on several UN envoys and regional mediators failed to bring the belligerents to a mutually acceptable solution, meanwhile tension is rising among the disfranchised Sahrawi trapped in the occupied territories as well as the refugee camps where a new generation calls to resume the armed conflict (ICG, 2007). A linear approach to the conflict reveals that Morocco and the Polisario have diametrically opposed positions on two fundamental issues in the referendum process. The first dispute is related to the identification of Sahrawi entitled to vote. The second and most important issue is whether the Sahrawi would have an option of independence among choices for self-determination. Both parties have not budged from their position with Morocco rejecting every plan by mediators and resorting to hardball tactics. However, the dispute cannot be oversimplified to just an issue of claim of sovereignty versus the right for self-determination.
            The intergroup conflict theory is crucial to understand the cause of the parties’ intransigence, in this process we must identify how the group formed and the driving forces of their motivations to fight one another. A group is formed when several individual who are interacting share mutual traits making them sense they form a distinct unit, as such they collectively seek to realize interdependent objectives which they are conscious about (Deutsch, 1973). The groups in this conflict are divided among the issues; the exiled Sahrawi and those trapped in the occupied territory and didn’t pledge allegiances to the Moroccans are the group challenging the current situation. The members of this group were originally several nomadic tribes roaming the desert, however, Spanish colonialists built cities and as more and more nomads moved to the cities the Sahrawi nationalism grew like nationalism did in most of the colonies. Sahrawi nationalist movement started with pacifist demonstrations on 1970 in Al-‘Ayun, subsequently a group of Sahrawi students formed the Polisario on 1973 and started a war of independence against Spain (Zunes and Mundy, 2010). By the time Spain withdrew from the territory, the Sahrawi national identity was forged and the Polisario had combatants from all the tribes; this group consciousness was reinforced after the invasions of the Moroccan marchers and Armies (Hodges, 1983). 
               The level of cooperation and trust among the Sahrawi is significantly high; despite four decades of depravation they have established statehood in exile recognized by 80 nations, they elect an assembly every three years, and their nonviolent activism within the occupied territory is coordinated (Stephan and Mundy, 2006). Group awareness among Sahrawi is further strengthened by the recognition of the UN, the cultural dissimilarities with the Moroccan settlers, their unique language, and for those confined in the territory, their shared depravation with the refugees as 86% of positions are filled by Moroccans settlers to promote exodus into Western Sahara (Bahaijoub, 2010). All struggles for self-determination have strong local causes: these generally combine cultural differences with economic and political inequalities and deprivations. The Sahrawi have strong restraining bonds, their ascribed social identity amplifies the drive towards positive self-esteem and thus leads to prejudiced opinions, reliance on stereotypes, and aggressive behavior towards the settlers and the “traitors” (Tajfel and Turner, 1979). They are also attached and committed to their cause because of the investment they made throughout four decades in defying the Moroccans and living deprived in refugee camps or slums with a firm belief they will be vindicated in the future (Jensen, 2005). The time perspective and the overwhelming feeling of injustice prevented the dilemma with the instrumental disadvantageous bond from breaking their group solidarity (Deutsch, 1973).  
            In the other hand, the Sahrawi allied to the monarchy and the Moroccan settlers, Army, and security apparatus in Western Sahara with the whole Moroccan nation’s support forms the group guarding the status quo. After two attempts to overthrow the Monarch and widespread social restlessness have shaken the throne and stability of the regime, King Hassan II rallied the nation around the Western Sahara conflict (Hodges, 1983). Morocco’s move into Western Sahara was driven by internal politics as King Hassan II increased Moroccan nationalism in order to increase group cohesiveness within the society and keep the Army busy in the south (Fisher, 1990). Eventually the political opposition in Morocco adopted the "Moroccanness" of the Western Sahara, as the conflict became part of a wider struggle for dominance in the region with Algeria; Algeria was essential to Polisario’s survival and successful military stalemate against Morocco (Zoubir and Volman, 1993). The stability and viability of the Moroccan regime became interlinked with the future of Western Sahara, as the issue of Western Sahara became a national question (Mundy, 2009). The Moroccan regime created a conformity pressure within its society as politicians declared those who question the status of Western Sahara are not Moroccan, therefore they created a rule that nobody can depart from without facing harsh consequences (Fisher, 2006). Additionally, the military, the settlers, and the Sahrawi allied to Morocco have an economical vested interested in the conflict as they were benefiting from the subsidies they get from the government and the licensing fees they charge for activities in the territories, a withdrawal from Western Sahara will negatively impact their social status (Kreisberg, 2005).
            Clearly, the intergroup conflict theory shed light on the intractability of this conflict, but the identity, group cohesiveness, and vested interested of some groups alone does not explain why the conflict has resisted twenty years of intervention. Intergroup hostilities are also generated from incompatible needs and objectives between groups, with the incompatibility increased by scarcity of resources (Fisher, 1990). Other factors such as the negative emotions, impact of external support for the parties, unaddressed new grievances produced along the conflict contribute to the intractability of the conflict (Kreisberg, 2005). Looking at these factors individually will lead to a distorted analysis of the conflict because all of them strengthen each other and worsen one other; the collapse of multidimensionality creates an infernal machine with its elements working in unison towards destructiveness (Coleman, 2011). The dynamical system theory is essential to analyze the intractability of this conflict and identify those areas that can be targeted in order to modify the broad pattern of relations between the parties towards a more productive and fruitful outcome (Coleman et all, 2006). The seemingly intractable nature of the Western Sahara conflict is driven by several attractors. The attractor illustrates the long term dynamics of the system; it is a state or a regular order of change toward which the dynamical system progresses over time, and to which the system goes back after it has undergone a perturbation (Vallacher and Nowak, 2007). Conflict attractors come from prior life events, personality dissimilarities, and interaction to particular events or from a personal history of conflict, positive feedback mechanisms stimulate emotions or actions along their current path or trajectory often increasing their strength thus keeping the system in the negative basin of attraction (Coleman, 2006).
            The attractors for Morocco, aside from the ones identified above such as identity and political survival (Roccas and Brewer, 2002) are economical; Western Sahara contains rich deposits of phosphates, iron ore and significant marine fishing reserves, it is also believed to contain oil deposits (Haugen, 2007). There are also geopolitical attractors as Morocco worries about a dominance of Algeria in an independent Western Sahara due to its continuous support to the Sahrawi cause; Algeria has a vested interest in an access to the Atlantic ocean to export its iron (Mundy, 2004). Morocco invested heavily in the infrastructure of Western Sahara at the expense of many Moroccan provinces; a withdrawal will yield a heavy loss in investment (Omar, 2008). The attractors for the Sahrawi are the final hope for victory following years of war and harsh conditions in desert refugee camps and the slums, safeguarding of national honor and a determination to be in control of what they consider to be their ancestral land (Haugen, 2007). Conflicts are inherently dynamic; they escalate and deescalate, change form, expand into new groups, and can be passed from generation to generation. Therefore, when the UN and AU mediators got involved in the conflict, they did stimulate change, but were rather disturbing a system that has its own strong dynamics. Other than the ceasefire, the external pressures had no visible effects on the parties as they completely withstood the external involvement and preserved the status quo. The perseverance of sufficient positive feedback coupled with the relative absence of negative feedback provides a mechanism for the stabilization of the status quo of the conflict; in this case the Moroccan side is overwhelmed by positive feedback loops.
            In conclusion, Morocco’s rational behind accepting the cease fire and prolonging the negotiation is to frustrate and abolish any tendencies towards independence and dissipate the idea of Sahrawi cultural distinction (Kreisberg, 2005). Morocco’s hope to change the reality by spending millions of dollars annually in lobbying efforts and propaganda in the United States and Europe to legitimize their occupation and portray the Polisario as an ally to Al Qaeda is fruitless because reality is across the wall in the camps of Tindouf, and the Slums of Western Sahara. It is time for third party mediator to think seriously about pressuring the United States and France to adopt the only measure available to force Morocco to obey international law; break the cohesiveness of the Moroccan side through economic sanctions. Endorsing the expansion of a country’s territory by military force establishes a very dangerous and destabilizing precedent and will provide for more anarchy in the international relation systems and thus more intractable conflicts in the future.


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