"Since the 1970s, Morocco and the independence-seeking Popular Front for the Liberation of Saqiat al Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) have vied for control of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory. In 1991, the United Nations arranged a cease-fire and proposed a settlement plan that called for a referendum to allow the people of the Western Sahara to choose between independence and integration into Morocco. A long deadlock on determining the electorate for a referendum ensued. Since 2001, the U.N. has unsuccessfully suggested alternatives to the unfulfilled settlement plan, particularly one formulated by James Baker. Latterly, the U.N. has called on the parties to negotiate. An end to the impasse is not in sight, and it has affected Algerian-Moroccan bilateral relations and wider regional cooperation. The United States supports U.N. efforts and a solution that would not destabilize its ally, Morocco. Congress supports a referendum and is frustrated by delays. This report will be updated if developments warrant. See also CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report RS21579, 'Morocco: Current Issues', and CRS Report RS21532, 'Algeria: Current Issues.'"
CRS Report for Congress, RS20962