A paper that investigates why Morocco initiated a new colonization project outside of its sovereign boundaries, in Western Sahara, beginning in 1975; thus negating the international trend of decolonization and a set of international norms.
Current explanations of state expansion of the Moroccan kind, which can be defined as strategic settlement projects, focus on unit level variables. In contrast, the paper offers a comprehensive analysis that includes the internal drivers, the external permissive realities, and the relationship between these two. The paper argues that the Moroccan claim to Western Sahara, and the subsequent expansion into the region, was perceived in Rabat as a vital state interest. It served then, and still serves now, as a major source of legitimacy for the monarchy.
When adopted originally in the late 1950’s, the claim of Greater Morocco was also used to outbid political competitors, in particular the Isatiqlal party. The paper further explores the international permissive conditions that allowed Morocco to pursue its territorial aspirations: Decolonization that created material and ideational opportunities for expansion, bipolarity that allowed Morocco to overcome constraints to do so, and the emerging norm of self determination that shaped the nature of Moroccan expansion, and in particular, the use of settlers.