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Vol 43 No 6

Published 22nd March 2002

Cross-border pressures

Regional quarrels are rumbling across the Maghreb

A ten-year ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front liberation movement is in danger of being broken, now that the United Nations is threatening to pull out of Western Sahara. The Sahara question still pits Morocco against Polisario's mentor, Algeria, in a cold war that has frustrated hopes of regional integration, rendered the five-country Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA) moribund (AC Vol 43 Nos 1 & 5) and stimulated a regional arms race. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his personal envoy for Western Sahara, the United States' former Secretary of State James Baker III, worry about the cost of a UN mission without end, the Mission des Nations Unies pour le Référendum dans le Sahara Occidental (Minurso), which has cost US$500 million since it started operations in 1991 ­ and has produced no referendum.

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