Timeline of Western Saharan history

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Western Sahara history starts long before this below mentioned timeline. Timeline of Western Sahara history

  • 1884 - November 28 Three representatives of the Oulad Bou Sbaa tribe and Emilio Bonelli - representing the Sociedad de Africanistas y Colonistas (Society of Africanists and Colonists) - sign a treaty which formed the basis of Spain's legal conquest of the Sahara.
  • 1885 - December Spanish government places Río de Oro, Angra de Cintra, and Bay of the West under its protection.
  • 1887 - April 6 Spanish jurisdiction extended 150 miles into the interior.
  • 1900 - June 27 Spain and France sign a convention which defines the borders between Spanish Sahara and the area which will become French-controlled Mauritania.
  • 1904 - October 3 Franco-Spanish convention extends Spanish control into southern Morocco (see Ifni and Tarfaya Strip).
  • 1912 - November 12 Final convention defining Spanish and French zones in West Africa.
  • 1934 - May 15 Final pacification of Sahrawi in Spanish Sahara. Spanish garrison installed at Smara.
  • 1944 - January Moroccan Nationalist Istiqlal party formed.
  • 1946 - July 20 A decree separates Spanish Sahara from the Spanish protectorate in Morocco.
  • 1947 - Discovery of phosphate reserves in the Sahara.
  • 1953 - Nationalist Moroccan King Mohammed V deposed by the French.
  • 1954 - November 16 King Mohammed V returns to Morocco from exile in Madagascar.
  • 1956 - March 3 Beginning of Moroccan Army of Liberation insurrection.
    - March 27 Allal al-Fassi delivers a speech calling for unification of Greater Morocco.
    - April 7 Spain recognizes Morocco's full sovereignty.
    - May Forces Armées Royales established.
    - July 7 Map of Greater Morocco first appears in Istiqlal's daily newspaper Al-Alam.
    - August Istiqlal endorses al-Fassi's claims at its first post-independence congress.
  • 1957 - July 1 Mokhtar Ould Daddah first stakes the Mauritanian claim to the Western Sahara area.
    - November 12 Morocco officially lays claim to Spanish Sahara, Ifni, and Mauritania at the United Nations. (see Spanish West Africa).
  • 1958 - January 10 Spanish Sahara and Ifni become Spanish provinces, rather than colonies; El Ayoun becomes an administrative center.
    - February 10 Beginning of fortnight-long Opération Ouragan, a joint Franco-Spanish offensive against Moroccan irregulars of the Army of Liberation operating in Spanish Sahara and in neighbouring French colonies.
    - February 25 At M'hamid, Mohammed V first publicly endorses the Moroccan claim to the Sahara.
    - April 1 Spain agrees to return Spanish Southern Morocco to Rabat.
  • 1960 - August 28 The Arab League announces support for Morocco's claim of sovereignty over Mauritania.
    - November 28 Mauritania becomes independent from France.
    - December 14 UN General Assembly UN Resolution 1514 (XV) signed. (Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples).
  • 1961 - King Hassan II becomes Moroccan sovereign.
    - October 27 United Nations General Assembly votes to admit Mauritania, thus frustrating Morocco's claim.
  • 1962 - July Algeria achieves its independence from France.
    - July–October Morocco attempts to occupy disputed border areas of Algeria by force.
    - October 9 Algeria drives Moroccan forces from Tindouf.
  • 1963 - May First provincial elections held in Spanish Sahara.
    - July 15 Three representatives of the Sahara take their seats at the Cortes Generales.
    - October 1 Morocco again attempts to occupy Algerian border posts.
    - November 4 The Organization of African Unity brokers a cease-fire that comes into effect between Morocco and Algeria.
  • 1964 - October The UN urges Spain to decolonize the Sahara.
  • 1965 - The second round of elections take place.
    - Spain publicly announces the scale of Bou Craa phosphate deposits.
    - December 16 The UN General Assembly first calls on Spain to decolonize the Sahara.
  • 1966 - Referendum held in which Saharawi endorse the Spanish occupation.
    - December 20 UN General Assembly Resolution 2229 calls on Spain to hold a referendum on the future of the Sahara.
  • 1967 - Sahara's number of seats in the Cortes increases from three to six.
    - May Djema'a set up with 82 members.
    - July 14 - August 20 First elections to Djema'a.
    - September 11 Djema'a inaugurated in El Ayoun.
  • 1968 - October 12 Spain's last remaining African colony other than the Sahara, Equatorial Guinea, achieves independence.
  • 1969 - Morocco recognizes Mauritanian independence.
    - June 30 Ifni ceded to Morocco.
  • 1970 - June 8 Morocco and Mauritania sign a treaty in Casablanca, normalizing relations.
  • 1971 - Western powers recognize self-determination as a legal right and its denial as a violation of the United Nations Charter.
    - January Second round of elections for the Djema'a take place.
    - July 10 Attempted military coup in Morocco.
  • 1972 - June Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya announces he would back a war of liberation in the Sahara.
    - June 5–19 At a session in Rabat the OAU echoes UN calls for a referendum.
    - June 15 Morocco and Algeria sign a joint declaration of friendship, as border disputes settle.
    - August 16 Second attempt at a military coup.
  • 1973 - May 10 Polisario Front founded.
    - May 20 First Polisario attacks against the Spanish army.
    - September 5–9 The Non-Aligned Movement, meeting in Algiers, endorses the UN resolutions.
    - September 21 Francisco Franco announces that Spain will prepare the Sahara for internal autonomy.
    - December 20 Assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco, Franco's successor-apparent, by ETA.
  • 1974 - Spanish census, including the Saharan region.
    - January 26 Spanish forces capture their first Polisario prisoners in an engagement at Guelb Lahmar.
    - April Portuguese dictatorship overthrown following colonial wars.
    - June 21–25 The fifth Islamic Summit endorses UN resolutions at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
    - August 20 Spain announces it will hold a referendum in the first six months of 1975.
    - August 25–31 Polisario announces the goal of full independence at its second congress.
    - September 17 King Hassan announces that the Sahara question should go before the International Court of Justice.
    - October 20 Polisario disable the Fosbucraa conveyor belt.
    - October 26–29 Algerian premier Houari Boumédienne declares support for a Moroccan-Mauritanian partition plan.
    - December Morocco convinces Spain to delay referendum until after the International Court of Justice ruling.
    - December 13 The United Nations General Assembly approves a Moroccan resolution urging postponement of the planned referendum and requesting an International Court of Justice advisory opinion.
    - December 17 Five Spanish soldiers killed in combat against Polisario.
  • 1975 - Algeria begins to oppose Moroccan policy on the Sahara.
    - January 16 Spain announces that it will suspend the referendum and give evidence to the International Court of Justice.
    - January 27 King Hassan asks the UN to examine the status of Ceuta and Melilla.
    - February Algeria begins to train Polisario guerrillas.
    - February 16 The pro-Spanish Saharawi party, Partido de Unión Nacional Saharaui (PUNS) officially registers.
    - March First Polisario deaths in combat.
    - May 10–11 Several Saharawi troops of the Tropas Nómadas (the Spanish-founded Saharawi paramilitary police force) desert to the Polisario.
    - May 12–19 A UN mission of inquiry visits Sahara, Spain, Algeria, Mauritania, and Morocco.
    - October 15 The mission publishes a report stating that an "overwhelming" majority of Saharawi favor independence, and that Polisario is by far the most important political movement of the territory.
    - October 16 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara published. It contradicts Moroccan and Mauritanian claims to sovereignty over the Sahara and rejects the view of the territory as terra nullius (territory belonging to no-one) upon colonization; rather it belonged its inhabitants - the Sahrawis.
    - October 28 Spanish end entente with Polisario; Saharawi troops dismissed from Spanish army.
    - October 31 Moroccan Forces Armées Royales (FAR) forces occupy outposts evacuated by Spain.
    - November 2 Prince Juan Carlos vows to defend the Sahara from Moroccan invasion.
    - November 6 Green March crosses border from Morocco; condemned by Algeria.
    - November 9 Algeria excluded from tripartite talks.
    - November 12 Resumption of tripartite talks.
    - November 13 Last of Green Marchers return to Morocco, FAR forces remain.
    - November 14 Tripartite Agreement (also known as Madrid Accords) signed by Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania.
    - November 15 Polisario declares agreement null and void.
    - November 19 Algeria also declares agreement null and void.
    - November 20 Franco dies.
    - November 25 King Hassan of Morocco announces that Morocco will freeze its claims to the Spanish-controlled enclaves until Spain recovers Gibraltar; Moroccan troops arrive in El Aiun.
    - December 11 Polisario attacks conveyor belt for the first time since the accords.
    - December 17 Mauritanian troops occupy Lagouira.
  • 1976 - January 21 First loss of a Moroccan plane in the conflict.
    - January 29 A Moroccan attack on Amgala, inside Western Sahara, kills dozens of Algerian soldiers.
    - January Conveyor belt put out of action for six years.
    - February French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing declares opposition to "microstates".
    - February 26 Spanish troops complete withdrawal from the Sahara, two days early.
    - February 27 Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) declared by Polisario, flag of Western Sahara raised.
    - February 28 Madagascar becomes the first state to recognize the SADR.
    - February–April Morocco uses napalm on refugees during bombing raids, refugees move into Algeria.
    - March 6 SADR recognized by Algeria; Morocco and Mauritania break off relations with Algeria.
    - April 14 Moroccan-Mauritanian partition treaty signed in Fés.
    - April 19 Polisario's first attack on the Nouadhibou-Zouerate railway line inside Mauritania. Morocco captures Guelta Zemmour, the final Spanish outpost.
    - April Polisario focuses efforts on Mauritania.
    - June 9 Polisario Secretary-General El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed dies in attack on Nouakchott.
    - August 26 Mohammed Abdelaziz elected Secretary-General during Polisario's third congress.
    - September New Franco-Mauritanian military agreement signed.
  • 1977 February 17 Spanish-Moroccan fishing agreement signed; beginning of Polisario attacks on Spanish fishing vessels.
    - May 1 Polisario attacked and held in Zouerate for over two hours, forcing French to evacuate and mining to come to a halt. Two French citizens killed.
    - May 13 Mauritania signs a mutual defense pact with Morocco.
    - July 3 Nouakchott attacked again, few Polisario casualties.
    - July Moroccan troops airlifted into Zouerate to reinforce Mauritanians.
    - October 25 Two French nationals seized during raid on railway.
    - October 27 Giscard d'Estaing orders preparations for military action (Opération Lamantin) to begin.
    - November 19 Talks for release of French citizens held by Polisario break down.
    - December 2 First French airstrikes against Polisario columns in Mauritania.
    - December 12 French aircraft use napalm on Polisario units and their Mauritanian prisoners after attack on railway.
    - December 14 Spain announces an end to arms shipments to Morocco and Mauritania.
    - December 18 Jaguar aircraft bomb Polisario column after attack on railway, killing 74 of 82 Mauritanian prisoners.
    - December 23 French prisoners arrive back in Paris after Polisario released them to the UN.
  • 1978 January Beginning of continuous attacks on Complexe Minier du Nord (COMINOR) railway.
    - May 3–5 French Jaguars attack Polisario in Zouerate.
    - July 10 Military coup in Mauritania ends Moktar Ould Daddah's regime.
    - July 12 The coup leader announces that the military will negotiate an end to conflict; Polisario announces a temporary halt to military operations in Mauritania.
    - August Beginning of series of Polisario attacks against targets in southern Morocco.
  • 1979 January 28 Polisario attack Tan-Tan, hold it for four hours.
    - May 1–5 OAU committee visits parties.
    - May The U.S. State Department gives the U.S. company Northrop Page Communications the go-ahead to build a $200-million electronic detection-system to help Morocco detect Polisario fighters.
    - July OAU Wise Men's Committee adopts the idea of a referendum.
    - July 12 Polisario ends its year-long ceasefire with Mauritania, attacking Tichla in Tiris el-Gharbia.
    - August 3 Beginning of peace-talks between Mauritania and Polisario.
    - August 5 Mauritania and Polisario sign peace agreement in Algiers.
    - August 14 Tiris el-Gharbia declared a Moroccan province.
    - August 24 Polisario's most devastating attack on FAR, at Lebouirnate in southern Morocco. Nearly one thousand die; Polisario hold the town for over a year.
    - October 9 Most northerly Polisario attack at M'Hamid in Draa valley.
    - December 26 Last Moroccan troops leave Mauritania.
    - December 27 Houari Boumédienne dies.
  • 1980 April Libya recognizes the SADR.
    - May 22 Polisario resumes attacks on Spanish boats fishing in Saharan waters.
    - July 29 Moroccan aircraft attack Boulanour, Mauritania, in response to a Polisario attack on Guelta Zemmour.
  • 1981 January Spain withdraws boats from Saharawi waters due to Polisario attacks.
    - March 2 First stretch of defensive wall (or berm) completed between Smara and the Zini Mountains.
    - May 11 Berm extended to Bou Craa.
    - June 20 Riots in Casablanca, between 66 and 637 killed by FAR.
    - June 26 King Hassan of Morocco announces his willingness to co-operate with the OAU's plan for a referendum.
    - August 31 SADR admitted to OAU.
    - October–December FAR virtually paralyze Polisario after introducing ground-to-air missiles.
    - November 7 FAR evacuate Guelta Zemmour, the largest garrison outside the berm.
    - November 9 Evacuation of Bir Enxaren, the last garrison outside the so-called "useful triangle" (the region of Western Sahara with the most resources and infrastructure); Polisario hold five-sixths of Western Sahara.
    - December 1 Following the election of François Mitterrand as President of France, Polisario open an office in Paris, .
  • 1982 - Over 130 U.S. military advisors work with the FAR, several of them seen in Western Sahara.
    - January FAR begin to go on the offensive.
    - May Berm reaches Atlantic Ocean.
    - May 11 United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee prohibit U.S. military advisors from working in Western Sahara.
    - October Partido Socialista Obrero Español (or PSOE, English: Socialist Workers Party of Spain), a Polisario-sympathetic party, win elections.
  • 1983 - Spanish-Moroccan fishing disputes settled by treaty.
    - January 25 General Ahmed Dlimi, commander of Moroccan forces in the Sahara, dies in a mysterious car-accident after numerous rumors circulate of a coup attempt.
    - February 26 Summit of Akid Lotfi, the first meeting of Algerian and Moroccan leaders since the start of the conflict.
    - June New peace-plan launched by the OAU in a meeting in Addis Ababa.
    - October 31 Deadline set by OAU for implementation of peace plan.
  • 1984 - August 13 Treaty of Oujda signed by Morocco and Libya.
    - November 12 Admission of SADR to OAU after several stalled attempts; Morocco withdraws.
  • 1985 - September Start of revitalized UN role in Sahara.
    - October 23 Morocco offers a cease-fire and a referendum under UN auspices.
    - November 12 Morocco withdraws its offer of a referendum.
    - December UN General Assembly Resolution 40/50 endorses the OAU's referendum plan.
  • 1986 - July King Hassan II of Morocco and United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar meet in Rabat, with no resolution.
    - August Treaty of Oujda abrogated.
    - October 31 UN General Assembly Resolution 41/60 asks Pérez de Cuéllar to examine the idea of a referendum, with a view to implementing it.
  • 1987] - April 16 The Moroccan Armed Forces finish constructing the sixth section of the berm.
    - May 4 Moroccan and Algerian leaders meet again at Akid Lotfi.
    - November–December A UN-OAU tenchnical mission visits the region.
  • 1988 - January Polisario announce a temporary truce to facilitate the UN's work.
    - May 4 Morocco and Algeria re-establish diplomatic relations.
    - June Spain and Morocco sign a framework agreement covering commercial ties.
    - July 12–22 Talks held between Moroccan and Saharawi delegates in Saudi Arabia.
    - August 11 Pérez de Cuéllar proposes his Settlement Plan.
    - August 30 Peace-Plan accepted by both sides.
    - September 16 Polisario launch a heavy offensive against the FAR at Oum Dreiga.
    - October The United Nations Committee on Decolonization passes a resolution calling for direct talks between Morocco and Polisario.
    - November 20 The UN General Assembly passes a similar resolution.
    - December King Hassan II announces that he would meet Saharawi nationalists for discussions.
  • 1989 - January 4–5 Kiung Hassan II meets Polisario leaders for the first time.
    - January Polisario allowed to re-open an office in Madrid, improving ties with Spain. Later, Polisario announces that it will cease military actions in February.
    - February Maghreb Arab Union (UMA) founded without SADR participation.
    - May Morocco ratifies the 1972 Treaty of Ifrane, ending its border dispute with Algeria.
    - September 21 King Hassan II declares no need for further discussion with Polisario.
    - Autumn Conflict intensifies.
    - September 24 Polisario launches a major new offensive against Moroccan positions.
    - October–November Polisario attacks Guelta Zemmour, the Hawza section of the berm, and Amgala, causing heavy losses to FAR.
  • 1990 - Spring Moroccan-Algerian relations cool.
    - March The independence of Namibia increases the UN's involvement with decolonization issues.
    - Summer France becomes heavily involved with UN attempts to bring about negotiations.
    - June 18 UN Peace-Plan made public, detailed plan presented.
    - June 27 The Security Council calls on both sides to co-operate with UN attempts to resolve the conflict, unanimously supporting the Secretary-General.
    - June UN-sponsored meeting of Saharawi tribal leaders in Geneva, Switzerland. Meanwhile, the Islamic Salvation Front wins local Algerian elections.
    - July A UN technical team visits the region to lay grounds for referendum.
    - August Morocco sends troops to fight against Iraq in the Gulf War.
  • 1991 - April The UN General Assembly approves the Secretary-General's referendum plan, establishing Mission des Nations unies pour l'Organisation d'un Référendum au Sahara Occidental (MINURSO) with a budget of $177 million.
    - April 29 UN Security Council Resolution 690 approves the establishment of MINURSO.
    - September 6 Provisional date for cease-fire.
    - December 19 Pérez de Cuéllar proposes changes to voter criteria, viewed as a capitulation to Moroccan demands.
  • 1992 - January Provisional date for referendum.
  • 1993 - May MINURSO's Voter Identification Committee established.
    - July Direct talks held between Morocco and Polisario.
  • 1994 - April Identification Committee begins to process voters.
  • 1995 - Morocco and the European Union sign a Partnership agreement.
  • 1996 - May Identification process suspended, most civilian staff withdrawn from MINURSO.
  • 1997 - March 17 American James Baker III installed as United Nations Special Representative in Western Sahara.
    - June 11–12 Baker holds first talks with both sides separately in London.
    - June 23–25 First official face-to-face talks held between Morocco and Polisario in Lisbon.
    - September Houston Accords apparently break impasse.
    - December Identification process restarted.
  • 1998 - September 3 Voter identification nearly completed, except for three contested tribes.
    - November 7–15 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan visits Maghrebi countries in a search for a solution.
  • 1999 - June 15 Identification Committee begins to look at contested tribes.
    - July Death of King Hassan II. His son King Mohammed VI succeeds to the throne.
    - July 15 Beginning of appeals process for voters.
    - November Driss Basri sacked as Minister of the Interior of Morocco.
    - December Completion of voter lists.
  • 2000 - May 14 Baker introduces "Third Way" Framework Agreement plan as an alternative to the referendum process.
    - June 28 Further talks in London end without agreement.
    - July Talks in Geneva break down.
    - December 22 Polisario threatens to resume the war if the Paris Dakar Rally crosses Saharan territory from Morocco without applying for permission from the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
  • 2001 - March Talks aimed at setting a date for the first meeting of heads of state of UMA countries since 1995 break down after arguments between Algerian and Moroccan diplomats over the Sahara.
    - May 16 Morocco announces that it had presented a plan for Saharan autonomy to the UN.
    - June 22 The UN presents the Framework Agreement for autonomy.
    - December 2 French President Jacques Chirac of France describes the Sahara as Morocco's Southern Provinces.
  • 2002 - February 19 Kofi Annan presents the Security Council with four options to break the impasse in the Sahara: referendum, autonomy, partition, or complete withdrawal.
    - March MINURSO's total expenditure exceeds $500 million.
    - July The Security Council votes to extend the mandate of MINURSO.
  • 2003 - January James Baker announces the "new Baker Plan", the Peace Plan for Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara. It describes a proposed Western Sahara Authority to administer the territory autonomously until the holding of a referendum in 2007 or in 2008. In a surprise move, the Polisario accepts the document as a basis of negotiations; Morocco stalls for several months, but eventually rejects the plan, stating that the kingdom will no longer accept independence as one of the ballot options.
    - July UN Security Council Resolution 1495 announces support for Baker's latest plan, and extends the mandate of MINURSO to January 31, 2004.
  • 2004 - January MINURSO extended until April.
    - April The UN extends MINURSO's mandate for another year.
    - June 11 James Baker resigns: Peruvian Alvari de Soto takes his place.
    - August Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Foreign Minister of Spain, vows that Spain will support the Baker Plan.
    - September 15 South Africa recognizes the SADR.
  • 2005 - April 22 Foreign Minister of South Africa Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma visits the SADR on official business.
    - May 25 An intifada (or uprising) begins in the cities of El Aiun and Smara, and student uprisings occur in Moroccan universities. Reports circulate of police brutality and of the kidnapping of peaceful demonstrators.
    - June 25 Kenya gives full recognition to the SADR.
    - July 27 Dutch ambassador Peter Van Walsum confirmed as James Baker's replacement.
    - August 17 Announcement that the SADR will release all 404 of the Moroccan prisoners-of-war.
    - December 27 Sudan becomes the first state to support Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.[1]
    - October 2005 to February 2006 Peter van Walsum consulted Polisario Algeria, Morocco and other countries. On April 19 his report was published. No agreement was reached.
    - December 28 Uruguay recognizes the SADR.
    - The UN Security Council has prolonged the mandate of the MINURSO-mission until 31 October 2006.

(The above text derives in part from the unpublished paper The Western Sahara: A Case Study by John Carthy, written for the University of Portsmouth, with permission.)