Could this be the start of a beautiful Western Saharan-South Ossetian friendship? After securing recognition from Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru, the breakaway region of South Ossetia has turned to the African continent in search of friends and found one in the partially recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
“Western Sahara de facto recognizes the independence of South Ossetia. Now we have to formalize relations de jure, with all that comes with it, including the establishment of diplomatic relations,” the de facto SADR Minister for African Issues Mohamed Yeslem Beyssat was quoted as saying by Russia's Regnum news agency.
The Western Sahara, like South Ossetia, is a disputed region whose claim to independence involves larger regional powers. Morocco controls two-thirds of the territory, a onetime Spanish colony; some several dozen countries -- including Nicaragua and Venezuela, both backers of South Ossetia's independence -- have recognized the de facto Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, now headquartered in Algeria, as an independent state.
Beyssat was speaking at a September 26-27 international conference in Algiers that was attended by an envoy from the de facto South Ossetian government who met with de facto SADR officials. Both sides denounced Morocco (for the de facto SADR) and Georgia (for breakaway South Ossetia) as aggressors for using force to try and stamp out the territories' respective claims to independence.