Opération Lamantin

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Opération Lamatin was a December 1977 – July 1978 military intervention by France on the behalf of the Mauritanian government, in its war against Sahrawi guerrilla fighters of the Polisario Front, seeking independence for Western Sahara. Airstrikes were launched in the provinces, but the results of the operation were not significant. France used Jaguar combat aircraft from Dakar Airbase. The bombings were targeted in the rail route from the iron mines in Zouerat to the coast of Nouadibou, which were obstructed by Polisario.

The disastrous performance in the war was a major reason for the Mauritian armed forces to overthrow Moktar Ould Daddah, the President of Mauritania in 1979 and an immediate cease-fire with the Polisario. Mauritania subsequently pulled out of Western Sahara in 1979 and mended relations with their Sahrawi neighbours and went on to recognize them in 1984.

Background[edit]

The portions of Western Sahara was a Spanish Colony till 1975 and remained the last colonial province in Africa.[1] A war erupted between Morocco and the Sahrawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, which proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government in exile in Tindouf, Algeria.[2] France, who had along with former colonial power Spain, supported the takeover of Western Sahara, backed the regime of Mokhtar Ould Daddah, whom they had installed as President of Mauritania at the end of the colonial era in 1960. Both Mauritania and Morocco were supplied with new military hardware and generous economic aid, to enable them to maintain their grip on the territory. French personnel trained the Mauritanian army and took up important positions in the economy. All through Mauritania allied with Algeria to control the raising opposition of Morocco. But during 1974, they realigned their position and believed to have went on a secret agreement with the king of Morocco. This eventually led to an agreement in 1975 that partitioned Spanish Sahara to both Mauritania and Morocco.[3]

Lamantin operation[edit]

In December 1977, President Giscard d'Estaing ordered the French Air Force to deploy in Mauritania and start bombing Polisario columns with Napalm, after French technicians were taken as prisoners of war in a Polisario raid on the Zouerate iron Mining|mines, Mauritania's most precious economic asset (they were later released unharmed).[4][5]

France used Jaguar combat aircraft from Dakar Airbase.[6] The bombings were targeted in the rail route from the iron mines in Zouerat to the coast of Nouadibou, which were obstructed by Polisario.[7] Ould Daddah's regime still proved unable to fend off the guerrillas, and his disastrous performance in the war was a major reason for the Mauritanian armed forces decision to overthrow him a year later and institute an immediate cease-fire with the Polisario.[7] Mauritania subsequently pulled out of Western Sahara in 1979 and mended relations with their Sahrawi neighbours (Mauritania recognised the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in 1984), who carried on the fight against Morocco.[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ González Campo, Julio. "Documento de Trabajo núm. 15 DT-2004. Las pretensiones de Marruecos sobre los territorios españoles en el norte de África (1956–2002)" (PDF) (in Spanish). es:Real Instituto Elcano. p. 6. 
  2. ^ "Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (paragraph 37, p. 10)" (PDF). 2 March 1993. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Cordesman, Anthony H. (2016). After The Storm: The Changing Military Balance in the Middle East. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 9781474292566. 
  4. ^ Mauritania. Lcweb2.loc.gov. 11 September 2012
  5. ^ Morocco, Mauritania & West Sahara since 1972. Acig.org. 11 September 2012
  6. ^ János, Besenyő (2009). Western Sahara. Besenyő János. p. 107. ISBN 9789638833204. 
  7. ^ a b Falola, Toyin; Thomas, Charles (2013). Securing Africa: Local Crises and Foreign Interventions. Routledge. p. 90. ISBN 9781136662584. 
  8. ^ Pazzanita, Anthony G. (2008). Historical Dictionary of Mauritania Volume 110 of Historical Dictionaries of Africa. Scarecrow Press. p. 209. ISBN 9780810862654. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hodges, Tony (1983), Western Sahara: The Roots of a Desert War, Lawrence Hill Books (ISBN 0-88208-152-7)
  • Thompson, Virginia and Adloff, Richard (1980), The Western Saharans. Background to Conflict, Barnes & Noble Books (ISBN 0-389-20148-0)