Contents 1 –Définition 2 – Background 3 – The green march 4 – The Moroccan arguments for sovereignty
Définition The Green March was a strategic mass demonstration in November 1975, coordinated by the Moroccan government, to force Spain to hand over the disputed, autonomous semi- metropolitan Spanish Province to Sahara to Morocco.
Background Morocco, to the north of the Spanish Sahara, had long clamed that the territory was historically an integral part of Morocco. Mauritania to the south agued similarly that the territory was in fact in Mauritanian. Since 1973, a Sahrawi guerilla war led by Polisario front had challenged Spanish control, and in October 1975 Spain had quietly begun negotiations for a handover of the power with leaders of the rebel movement,
Both in El Aaiùn, and with foreign minister Pedro Cortina y Mauri meeting El Ouali in Algiers. Morocco intented to vindicate its claims by demanding a verdict from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which was issued on Oct. 16, 1975. The ICJ stated that there were historical legal ties of allegiance between some, but only some Sahrawi tribes and the Sultan of Morocco, as well as ties including some rights relating to the land between Mauritania and other Sahrawi tribes. However, the ICJ stated also that there were no ties of territorial sovereignty between the territory and Morocco,
or Mauritanie, at the time of Spanish colonization; and that these contacts were not extensive enough to support either country’s demand for annexassions of the Spanish Sahara. Instead, the court argued, the indigenous population (the Sahrawis) were the owners of the land, and thus possessed the right of self-determination. This meant that regardless of which political solution was found to the question of sovereignty (intergration with Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, partition, or independence ),
It had to be explicitly approved by the people of the territory. Complicating matters, a UN visiting mission had concludes on October 15, the day before the ICJ verdict was released, that Sahrawi support for independence was overwhelming. Howere, the reference to previous Moroccan- Sahrawi ties of allegience was presented by our king Hassan II as a vindication of this position, with no public mention of the court’s futher rulling on self-determination. ( Seven years later, her formally agreed to a referendum before the Organisation of African Unity. Within hours of the ICJ verdict release, he announced the organizing of a green march to Spanish Sahara, to reunite it with the Motherland.
In order to prepare the terrain and to riposte to any potential counter-invasion from Algeria or in order to invade militarily the land and kill or deport the Sahrawi population, the Moroccan Army entered the northeast of the region on October 31, where it met with hard resistance from the Polisario, by then a two-year-old independence movement.
The Green March The Green March was a well-publicized popular march of enourmous proportions.On November 6 1975 apporoximately 350,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on the city of Tarfaya in southern Morocco flags, U.S.A flages Saudi Arabia flages and Jordan flages ; banners calling for the return of the Moroccan Sahara, photographs of the King and Qur’an ; the color green for the march’s name was intented as a symbol of Islam. As the marchers reached the border,
The Spanish Armed Forces were ordered not to fire to avoid bloodshed. The Spanish troops also cleared some previously mined zones.
The Moroccan arguments for sovereignty According to Morocco, the exercise of sovereignty by the Moroccan state was characterized by official pledges of allegiance to the sultan. The Moroccan government was of the opinion that this allegiance existed during several centuries before the Spanish occupation and that it was a legal and political tie. The sultan Hassan I, for example, had carried out two expeditions in 1886 in order to put an end to foreign incursions in this territory and to officially invest several caids and cadis. In its presentation to the ICJ, the Moroccan side also mentioned the levy of taxes as a further instance of the exercise of sovereignty. MoroccooccupationHassan Icaidscadistaxes
The exercise of this sovereignty had also appeared, according to the Moroccan government, at other levels, such as the appointment of local officials (governors and military officers), and the definition of the missions which were assigned to them. The Moroccan government further pointed to several treaties between it and other states, such as withSpain in 1861, the United States of America in 1786, and 1836 and with Great Britain in 1856 SpainUnited States of AmericaGreat Britain
The exercise of this sovereignty had also appeared, according to the Moroccan government, at other levels, such as the appointment of local officials (governors and military officers), and the definition of the missions which were assigned to them. The Moroccan government further pointed to several treaties between it and other states, such as withSpain in 1861, the United States of America in 1786, and 1836 and with Great Britain in 1856  SpainUnited States of AmericaGreat Britain
The court, however, found that "neither the internal nor the international acts relied upon by Morocco indicate the existence at the relevant period of either the existence or the international recognition of legal ties of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Moroccan State. Even taking account of the specific structure of that State, they do not show that Morocco displayed any effective and exclusive State activity in Western Sahara."
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