The Moroccan people are celebrating on Saturday the 46th anniversary of the Green March epic, at a context marked by valuable diplomatic gains at the UN, growing support for the Moroccan identity of the Sahara and for the Morocco-proposed autonomy plan to end the Sahara dispute, coupled with an unprecedented development impetus.
If the Green March remains today an event embedded in the Moroccan collective memory, it is because it represented an exceptional episode. On November 6, 1975, Morocco regained its southern Sahara provinces from Spanish occupation through a peaceful march of 350,000 strong-willed patriots, men and women, and without firing a single bullet.
The Green March was staged shortly after the Hague-based International Court of Justice delivered a ruling on October 16, 1975, affirming that the Sahara was never terra nullius (territory without master) and that there were “legal ties of allegiance” between this territory and the Kingdom of Morocco before Spanish colonization.
Today, 46 years after this epic event, the southern provinces, like other parts of the Kingdom, enjoy security and witness an unprecedented development dynamic triggered by the new economic development model for the Sahara. This model, worth some $7.7 billion was initiated by King Mohammed VI to boost the economy; consolidate social cohesion and promote culture; enhance social inclusion; ensure effective protection of the environment and sustainable territorial development; and define responsible, inclusive governance.
Deprived of any infrastructure when the Spanish colonizer left, the southern provinces are now endowed with state-of-the art infrastructure that are reshaping the landscape of this entire region with other major projects underway.
In this connection, the 1,055 km-long expressway linking Tiznit to Dakhla will be operational in 2022. The project that required a $1.0 billion investment is a genuine transcontinental road that will link Europe to sub-Saharan Africa through Morocco.
The new development model for the southern provinces also provides for the construction of the Dakhla port. This outstanding project, requiring an investment of $1.0 billion, concerns the construction of a deep-water port on the Atlantic coast, 40 km north of Dakhla. The project features three components: a commercial port, a port dedicated to coastal and deep-sea fishing, and a port dedicated to shipbuilding industries.
The southern provinces are also benefitting from the national renewable energy strategy. Solar power plants have already been operational in Laâyoune and Boujdour since 2018, with a total capacity of 100 megawatts.
Other wind energy farms have been launched in Tarfaya, in Foum el Oued and in Akhfennir. And it’s not over. Other projects with a capacity of 800 megawatts are underway.
At the political level, the massive participation of the population of the Moroccan Sahara in the elections of September 8, 2021, as in previous ballots, confirms their attachment to the territorial unity of the Kingdom.
This adherence also reflects the will of the population of these provinces to fully engage in the implementation of the sustainable development project launched by King Mohammed VI.
Besides the population’s renewed political commitment, the Green March 46th anniversary is celebrated in a diplomatic context marked by the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 2602, which consolidates the achievements made by the Kingdom in the Sahara issue, achievements made possible thanks to the personal commitment of King Mohammed VI.
Resolution 2602, which extends for one year the MINURSO mandate till October 31, 2022, actually enshrines the preeminence of the Moroccan autonomy initiative to resolve the artificial Sahara conflict.
Moreover, over 26 countries from Africa, the Arab world, and the Caribbean have set up consulates in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla to renew their recognition of the Sahara as a Moroccan territory and to support to Morocco’s territorial integrity.
The Green March which was an admirable feat of diplomacy allowed a whole region to embrace economic and social development as it allowed to establish a new geopolitical balance of power in the region.