Polisario: Against the Wall of Shame

The Polisario Front  (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro) is a Saharawi rebel national liberation movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco. The Polisario is an observer member of the Socialist International.

The Front is outlawed in Morocco and the occupied part of Western Sahara, raising the Polisario flag is illegal.

In 1980, Morocco begins its construction of a long barrier of simple sand embankments to impede the movement of Saharawi guerrillas. Between 1980 and 1987, five heavily fortified walls are added to the east and south, completely cutting off the Saharawi soldiers and refugees from their home cities. Today, the wall is 1,500 miles long – almost half the size of the Great Wall of China – and consists of alternating sand and rock walls and deep ditches.

The Saharawis refer to the Moroccan barrier as the Wall of Shame. It divides the 160,000 Saharawi refugees in Algeria from their families and friends in the Moroccan-held territory, it threatens the lives and livelihoods of the hundreds of Saharawi nomads that still wander through the Western Sahara’s deserts.

The Polisario traditionally employed ‘ghazzi’ tactics, motorized surprise raids over great distances, inspired by the traditional camel war parties of the Sahrawi tribes. After the construction of the Wall of Shame this has changed into tactics more resembling conventional warfare, with a focus on artillery, snipers and other long-range attacks.

In addition to a referendum on self-determination, the protection of human rights, and the cessation of natural resource exploitation, the Polisario Front leadership demands the dismantling of the Wall of Shame.


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