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The African Union vote on Jan. 30 to readmit Morocco is a landmark decision in the tumultuous relations between Morocco and fellow African states.There are few prospects for a fresh start or innovative approaches to settle the Western Sahara dispute.It was the contentious issue of Western Sahara that initially led Morocco – a founding member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and a supporter of other liberation movements – to quit the AU's predecessor in 1984 after it admitted the SADR as a full member in a move clouded with legal ambiguities.Beyond Algiers' tactical welcoming of Morocco's AU membership – a tacit recognition of changes taking place in Africa – lies a vigorous counterstrategy to save the SADR's place at the AU. Thus far, the AU has had limited impact on the Western Sahara dispute, leaving the U.N. Security Council in the front seat and even excluding the issue from regular joint consultations.Critically, Morocco's new place at the AU serves its strategy of streamlining, if not sidetracking, the Western Sahara issue, so the dispute does not stand in the way of long-term regional interests.
Upsetting the status quo
on Western Sahara: Reasons and risks
Disjointed Gulf-Maghreb cooperation
The U.N. shifts on the Western Sahara conflict
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