The longest minefield of the world
In general, I have never heard of this structure before. C'mon the building, the history of the confrontation in this African country about which I also knew nothing was developing along with it. And you?
Western Sahara is a controversial region in southern Morocco with a formally missing political border. It is not under the control of Morocco, but rather a complex, war-affected territory with uncertain power. Like many other disputed regions in the world, the region has a militarized zone, in the center of which passes a wall of sand 2,700 km long.
It is called the Moroccan Wall of Western Sahara, or simply the Moroccan Wall.
Unlike other notorious barriers in the world, the Moroccan Wall rarely appears in the news and is little discussed outside of Africa. It is not among the most famous walls of the world - the existence of this wall in the desert is ignored by the world community, along with the 40-year-old plight of the people of Saharavi, whom this wall has divided.Western Sahara was under Spanish occupation until 1975. After Spain left the territory, Morocco and Mauritania began to divide the territory among themselves, ignoring the wishes of the local residents of Saharavi, who have been demanding independence since the 1960s. In 1976, Saharavi formed a rebel national liberation movement called Front Polisario, seeking to get rid of the foreign presence in Western Sahara. They declared the Arab Democratic Republic of Saharawi (SADR) an independent state, after which the war began. In 1979, Mauritania left, but Morocco continued to seize the area.
Morocco began to create a huge ledge of sand 2,700 km long, to divide the territory in length into two regions. The western side is occupied by Morocco, while the eastern side, the so-called “free zone”, is ruled by the Sakharavi rebels from the Polisario organization. About 30,000 to 40,000 inhabitants live in this landlocked corner of the desert between Algeria and Mauritania. They live mainly in refugee camps, or as nomads.
In total, six large lines and two small ones were built.The basis of each shaft is sand and stone mound height of about three meters. Mineral fields, barbed wire barriers, sensor systems for detecting intruders, artillery posts and runways are located along the walls. Equipped with radar masts, viewing the territory outside the walls, the system is constantly patrolled.
Construction began in 1981 and officially completed on April 16, 1987.
The government of Morocco, bearing heavy costs for the conduct of hostilities and significant losses in manpower, applied a new tactic of combating the partisan methods used by the forces of Polisario. The most important economic and administrative centers of Western Sahara were enclosed by “security walls” - solid sandy ramparts up to 5 m high with reinforced concrete fortifications and observation posts, with mining approaches. By the end of the 80s, such fortifications were erected almost along the entire perimeter of the western Sahara border, their length reached 2500 km. The Moroccan Wall is the longest structure of its kind in the world, superior to the inter-German Iron Curtain and heavily fortified dividing line on the Korean Peninsula.Residents of Western Sahara, who advocate the independent development of the country, call this fortification line the “Wall of Shame”, rightly regarding it as a serious obstacle to the integration of the two parts of a single people. There are about 500 posts along the walls with permanent military garrisons having an electronic surveillance system.
Up to 120,000 Moroccan soldiers serve in the posts, opposing 8–10 thousand armed supporters of independence. To the west of the wall is located 2/3 of the territory of Western Sahara, where almost all economic activity is concentrated. This zone is under the control of the Moroccan administration. Territories east of the wall are controlled by the Frente POLISARIO, that is, the government of SADR, but these spaces are barren and almost deserted. New tactics to counter the rebels significantly reduced the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare. Since 1991, the territory adjacent to the wall has been under the control of the UN armed forces, which monitor the cease-fire.
The construction of the fortifications took place in several stages: the first wall fenced off from the rest of Western Sahara the largest city of Laayoune, the city of Smara and the place of extraction of phosphates in the area of Bu Kraa.After that, five more walls were built, with the result that under Moroccan control, most of the territory, called the government of this country by the Southern Provinces, turned out to be under control. POLISARIO forces control a predominantly uninhabited territory to the south and east of the barriers, called the Free Zone. The refugee camps from Western Sahara and the Polisario camp are located in western Algeria in the Tindouf area.
In fact, the construction of the shafts led to the design of the situation in Western Sahara in its modern stalemate form.
Military operations between Morocco and the Polisario Front officially ended after a truce in 1991, but the Wall continues to be staffed with thousands of Moroccan military, radar masts and electronic tracking devices. A mine belt was created along the entire length of the wall, which was called the longest continuous mine field in the world. More than 7 million mines exist throughout Saharavi, in addition to the large amount of unexploded ordnance from the war. Serious injuries, loss of limbs and deaths from the accidental explosion of these mines are a frequent occurrence among civilians.
The United Nations does not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.They claim that Saharavi have the right to self-determination. However, many countries have expressed their support for the Moroccan occupation, including France and the United States. Morocco has an economic interest in Western Sahara. The region is rich in phosphate reserves, as well as unexplored fields of offshore oil and natural gas. However, there are alternative estimates, according to which the region can become extremely unprofitable for Morocco.
The existing infrastructure is good, and the cash flow is supported by a large military presence, tax breaks for companies, fuel subsidies and a five-year investment package of $ 800 million from the Government of Morocco (GOM). However, the territory faces serious economic difficulties: unemployment accounts for more than 20 percent, the urban population is rapidly expanding, water resources and fishing grounds are cruelly exploited, being a source of income for 70 percent of workers in the region. Western Sahara's advertised phosphate reserves are relatively unimportant, making up less than two percent of Morocco’s national assets.The situation can change only if large reserves of oil and gas are confirmed, the potential presence of which is likely to be the cause of the conflict.
SADR is a self-proclaimed state, which only to a small extent controls the declared territory, but is recognized by more than 70 countries of the world.
In 1982, SADR was adopted by the majority of votes in the Organization of African Unity (Morocco left OAU in protest) and automatically gained a seat in the African Union. OAU decisions provoked the rise of nationalism in Moroccan society in its time: almost all political parties — monarchist, bourgeois, democratic — began to actively support the policy of the authorities on the Western Sahara issue. We know the statement of the late King Hassan II that he is a supporter of the observance of human rights, but the enemies of Morocco’s territorial integrity cannot have any rights.