Tifariti (Arabic: تيفاريتي) is an oasis town and the temporary capital of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,[3] located in north-eastern Western Sahara, east of the Moroccan Berm, 138 km (86 mi) from Smara and 15 km (9 mi) north of the border with Mauritania. It is part of what Polisario Front calls the Liberated Territories and Morocco call the Buffer Zone. It has been the de facto temporary capital of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic since the government moved there in 2008 from Bir Lehlou. It is the headquarters of the 2nd military region of the SADR.

Tifariti, 2005
Tifariti, 2005
Official seal of Tifariti
Tifariti is located in Western Sahara
Location in Western Sahara
Tifariti is located in Africa
Tifariti (Africa)
Coordinates: 26°9′29″N 10°34′1″W / 26.15806°N 10.56694°W / 26.15806; -10.56694
TerritoryWestern Sahara
Claimed byMorocco Kingdom of Morocco,
 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Controlled by Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
 • TypeMunicipality[1]
 • MayorMohammed Salem Dayah[2]
 • Total6.78 km2 (2.62 sq mi)
490 m (1,610 ft)
 • Total3,000
 • Density440/km2 (1,100/sq mi)

It is also the name of a Daïra of the Wilaya of Smara, in the Sahrawi refugee camps.

In 2010, the population of Tifariti was estimated at around 3,000 people.[citation needed]

Tifariti is located between Smara, the traditional spiritual centre of the Sahara founded by Ma El Ainin (177 km (110 mi) away)[4] and the Algerian town of Tindouf (320 km (200 mi) away), where the Sahrawi refugee camps are located.

The government quarter of Tifariti houses the Parliament of the SADR, a hospital, a school, a mosque and a museum.[citation needed]

History edit

Primarily an encampment located near an oasis, it was always a kind of seasonal town for the Sahrawis, an Arabic-speaking Bedouin people controlling the area since medieval times. In 1912, a French Foreign Legion expedition commanded by Captain Gerard, who was trying to link with their troops in Morocco, was exterminated by Sahrawi rebel nomads near Tifariti.[5] Then, it was permanently settled and used by the Spanish authorities as an advanced desert military outpost. Now in reconstruction, it is estimated that Tifariti had a population of approximately 7,000 inhabitants in 1975. Its inhabitants largely abandoned the town in 1976 because of the war with Morocco.[6] Tifariti never had many fixed structures, due to the pastoral lifestyle of the Sahrawis. It is located in a rugged desert area, with little vegetation.

During the Western Sahara War edit

The effects of the 1991 Moroccan air strikes seen in the former Spanish barracks of Tifariti.

Tifariti was the place of several battles during the Western Sahara War (1975–1991) and served as a military base and stronghold for both sides at various points of the war. It was also used as a stopping place for Sahrawi refugees en route to Tindouf (Algeria) during the invasion phase (1975–76). Some sources claim that in January 1976 there were 15,000 Sahrawi refugees around the town.[7]

The village was briefly occupied by the Moroccan Army in February 1976,[8] but 2 months later it retreated, being reoccupied by the SPLA in March 1977.[5]

In the summer of 1977, Moroccan troops controlled the town once more, this time for nearly two years. In March 1979, and after the Battle of Tifariti, the town was taken by the Polisario troops, the SPLA,[9]

During the 1980s, the Moroccan Wall was constructed north of Tifariti, and the terrain around the town was heavily mined. The risk was greatest east of the Berm, especially in the areas of Mehaires, Tifariti and Bir Lahlou where the Royal Moroccan Army (RMA) conducted offensive operations in August–September 1991. The dangerous result is, among others, scattered cluster bombs, still active in these areas.[10]

In August 1991, weeks before the proclamation of the ceasefire, the Royal Moroccan Air Force repeatedly bombed Tifariti, destroying the buildings and the wells, as well as killing dozens of civilians.[11][12]

Infrastructure edit

Hospitals and administrative buildings were built here between 1989 and 1991 by foreign aid agencies in preparation for a Sahrawi refugee return to Western Sahara, for the holding of a UN-backed referendum on either independence or integration with Morocco. That infrastructures were destroyed by the Royal Moroccan Air Force in August 1991, a few days before the proclamation of the cease-fire.[12][13]

A United Nations airstrip and a base for the MINURSO's peace keeping forces is situated close to Tifariti.[14]

Navarra hospital in Tifariti, Western Sahara. (December 3, 2009).

In April 1999, the Navarra Hospital was inaugurated. It was built up with the collaboration of solidarity associations from that Spanish autonomous community.[15] In January 2001, the patients and equipment of the hospital were evacuated, because of the threat of a restarting of the war. Finally, in February 2006, the hospital was re-opened.[16]

On May 21, 2005, and during the celebrations of the 32nd anniversary of the creation of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz (President of the SADR) put the first brick of the building that will host the Sahrawi Parliament, the Sahrawi National Council, and also the first brick of the Solidarity Neighbourhood district.[17]

On February 27, 2007 (31st anniversary of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) a borough of 150 houses named Solidarity Neighbourhood was inaugurated by SADR's president, Mohamed Abdelaziz. It was built with the help of the Andalusian provinces of Sevilla and Málaga.[18] On December 21, 2007, Abdelaziz inaugurated a mosque, in the framework of reconstruction and settlement of the Free Zone.[19]

On February 29, 2008, Abdelaziz launched the works of the building of the Mayoralty of Tifariti, a small dam to provide the local population with water[20] and the cornerstone of a sports complex, funded by South Africa.

On July 20, 2009, Salek Baba (SADR'S Minister of Reconstruction and Urbanization) visited Tifariti to assess the works of the "Tadamoun" and "Salam" neighbourhoods and a mini-desalination plant.[21] On October 30, 2009, Abdelkader Taleb Omar (Prime minister of the SADR) inaugurated a new district of 20 houses. He stated:

"The opening of these new residences is a portion of a large project of development in progress, includes other parts of the liberated territory of Meharrize, Bir Tighissit, Bir Lehlu, Mijek and Agounit".

— Abdelkader Taleb Omar. Tifariti. October 28, 2009.[22]

Politics edit

Commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Republic. Tifariti, 27 February 2005.

In October 2003, the Polisario Front held its XI General Popular Congress here, electing officials to its executive National Secretariat, the exile parliament of the Sahrawi National Council, as well as reelecting (92%) Mohamed Abdelaziz as Secretary General.[23]

In December 2007, with the presence of 250 international delegates, the XII General Popular Congress of the POLISARIO was held again in Tifariti. Abdelaziz was reelected again (85%),[24] although he proposed to regulate alternation in the leadership of the Polisario Front.[25] Also, the members of the National Secretariat were elected.[26]

Between 2010 and 2012, Larabas Said Jumani (a former minister of the SADR) was the first mayor of Tifariti.[27] He was replaced in 2012 by Mohammed Salem Dayah.[2]

Culture edit

ARTifariti 2008

In February 2009, the town hosted the "International Conference on Urbanization and Reconstruction of Liberated Areas".[28] The participants signed the "Declaration of Tifariti", with three principal aims:

  • Rebuilding and reconstruction of the liberated territories of Western Sahara.
  • Preservation of the Spanish language, through the establishment of the "Saharawi Academy for the Spanish language".
  • Promotion of the establishment of the "Tifariti University".[29]

Festivals edit

Since 2007, Tifariti has been the scenery of "ARTifariti", an annual international encounter of artists from several countries. The art pieces are made in the town and remain there, in the museum of Tifariti or outdoors. On 27 February 2011 Tifariti hosted the 35th anniversary of the proclamation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.[30][31]

On the 2012 edition, ARTifariti moved its activities to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.

Archaeological park edit

Approximately 30 km (20 mi) to the northeast of Tifariti is the Erqueyez Archaeological Park. This archaeological site, without precedents in this area, provides an interesting lithic manufacturing works from the Late Paleolithic or Epipaleolithic, mound graves, and more than a hundred caves with rock paintings.[32]

University of Tifariti edit

On 9 February 2013, Sahara Press Service announced that Mohamed Abdelaziz had released on 23 December 2012 a presidential decree establishing the first Sahrawi university, named "University of Tifariti". The President of the SADR also appointed Khatari Ahmudi Abdallahi as the head of the new educational institution.[33]

Sports edit

Since 2009, Tifariti is the finish line of the "Sahara Bike Race", a 300 km (190 mi) route in parallel with the Moroccan Wall, that starts in the Wilaya of El Aaiún, in the Sahrawi refugee camps.[34]

International relations edit

Twin towns and sister cities edit

Tifariti is twinned with:

Gallery edit

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ "Allocating seats for the liberated territories in Parliament will be considered in the next election (Official)". Sahara Press Service. 2012-02-20. Archived from the original on 2014-09-12. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  2. ^ a b "Minister of Defense receives Ross in liberated Tifariti". Sahara Press Service. 2012-03-11. Archived from the original on 2014-12-22. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  3. ^ "Sahara Occidental – Actualités 2008, février". February 2008. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  4. ^ "La Mili en el Sáhara - Asociación Nacional Veteranos Mili Sáhara". www.sahara-mili.net. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Festivities of 35th anniversary marking proclamation of SADR kick off". SPS. 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2011-02-03.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Marvin Howe, Saharan Guerrillas Roam Freely In Territory Ceded to Moroccans Archived 2018-07-22 at the Wayback Machine, New York Times, 15 mars 1977.
  7. ^ Surendra Bhutani, Conflict on Western Sahara, Strategic Analysis, 1754-0054, Volume 2, Issue 7, 1978, p. 251– 256.
  8. ^ "Las tropas marroquíes ocupan el oasis de Tifariti, en el Sahara" (in Spanish). ABC. 1976-02-07. Archived from the original on 2019-12-24. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  9. ^ "Tifariti, symbol of resistance against the occupier". SPS. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2010-09-09.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "MINURSO". MINURSO. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  11. ^ Ana Camacho (1991-08-08). "Marruecos bombardea 'zonas liberadas' del Polisario" (in Spanish). El País. Archived from the original on 2023-10-24. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  12. ^ a b "La aviación marroquí bombardea uno de los principales oasis del Sáhara" (in Spanish). ABC. 1991-08-28. Archived from the original on 2019-12-24. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  13. ^ Milestones in the Western Sahara conflict. Archived 2012-02-27 at the Wayback Machine MINURSO.
  14. ^ Michael Bhatia, Western Sahara under Polisario Control Archived 2017-10-18 at the Wayback Machine: Summary Report of Field Mission to the Sahrawi Refugee Camps (near Tindouf, Algeria) in Review of African political economy, number 88, June 2001.
  15. ^ "Recortes de prensa de la inauguración del Hospital Navarra en Tifariti. 1999" (in Spanish). LEFRIG (Centro de Documentación y Museo de la Resistencia del Pueblo Saharaui y la Solidaridad Internacional). 2009-04-13. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  16. ^ "Refugiados Saharauis: instalación fotovoltaica en el Hospital Navarra de Tifariti" (in Spanish). ANARASD. Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  17. ^ "The President of the Republic put the first brick in the new building of the Saharawi Parliament". SPS. 2005-05-22. Archived from the original on 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
  18. ^ Viviendas con ayuda andaluza Archived 2016-11-28 at the Wayback Machine Flickr (in Spanish)
  19. ^ "The Head of the Saharawi State inaugurates a mosque in Tifariti". SPS. 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2010-10-09.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "The President of the Republic inaugurates social projects in Tifariti". SPS. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2010-10-09.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Urbanization of liberated territories, Minister in charge inspects projects in course of execution". SPS. 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2010-09-11.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Inauguration of new residential district in Tifariti (liberated territories)". SPS. 2009-10-30. Retrieved 2010-09-09.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Communiques 2003". Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  24. ^ "POLISARIO's XIIth congress re-elect Mohamed Abdelaziz as Secretary General". SPS. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2010-09-10.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "POLISARIO's sitting Secretary General proposes alternation on the leadership of the movement". SPS. 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2010-09-10.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "POLISARIO Front's 12th congress elects 25 members of the National Secretariat". SPS. 2007-12-21. Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  27. ^ "El parque del Alamillo de Sevilla se hermana con el huerto de Tifariti en el Sáhara Occidental" (in Spanish). El Mundo. 2010-10-24. Archived from the original on 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  28. ^ "International Conference on urbanization and reconstruction of liberated areas". SPS. 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2010-09-14.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Sahara-Spain: University of the Desert". Universityworldnews.com. 2009-06-07. Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  30. ^ "Western Sahara: 35 years of colonisation and exile is enough". 3 March 2011. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  31. ^ http://www.spsrasd.info/en/detail.php?id=16654[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ Teresa Muñiz López (2005). "Los abrigos con pinturas rupestres de Erqueyez (Tifariti, Sáhara Occidental). Prospección arqueológica: Diseño y resultados" (PDF) (in Spanish). @rqueología y Territorio. Nº 2. p. 1-17. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  33. ^ "Establishment of first Saharawi University in liberated Tifariti (presidential decree)". SPS. 2013-02-09. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  34. ^ Sahara bike race Archived 2021-01-26 at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish, English, French, Italian, and German)
  35. ^ a b c d Gemellaggi e Patti di Amicizia[permanent dead link] Regione Toscana - Consiglio Regionale, 27 March 2010 (in Italian)
  36. ^ "Aytº de Artea (Bizkaia)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Retrieved 2013-02-14.[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ "Aytº de Balmaseda (Bizkaia)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Retrieved 2013-02-14.[permanent dead link]
  38. ^ "Aytº de Bedia (Bizkaia)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Retrieved 2013-02-14.[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ Se firma un pacto de amistad entre las localidades de Tifariti y Compomarino (Molise) Yahoo España (SPS) (in Spanish)
  40. ^ Acta de la Sesion Extraordinaria Celebrada Por El Excmo. Ayuntamiento Pleno El Día Tres de Octubre de Dos Mil Doce = Punto 5º. - Propuesta de Aprobación de Constitución de Comité del Hermanamiento Con la Localidada de Tifariti. Archived 2013-07-31 at the Wayback Machine Carmona.org (in Spanish)
  41. ^ "Tifariti firma un hermanamiento con el municipio Caroní del Estado de Bolívar" (in Spanish). Sahara Press Service. 2011-07-25. Archived from the original on 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  42. ^ "Aytº de Dima (Bizkaia)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Retrieved 2013-02-14.[permanent dead link]
  43. ^ "Aytº de Igorre (Bizkaia)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Retrieved 2013-02-14.[permanent dead link]
  44. ^ Se firma un acta de hermanamiento entre una ciudad venezolana y Tifariti Yahoo! España (SPS), 27 November 2005 (in Spanish)
  45. ^ Hermanamientos Archived 2013-04-15 at archive.today Ayuntamiento de Los Palacios y Villafranca (in Spanish)
  46. ^ "Aytº de Arrasate-Mondragón (Gipuzkoa)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Archived from the original on 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  47. ^ "Reggiolo mayor urges Italian government to recognize SADR". SPS. 2014-02-11. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  48. ^ Twinning countries Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Comune di Signa
  49. ^ "Aytº de Trucíos (Bizkaia)" (in Spanish). Euskal Fondoa. Retrieved 2013-02-14.[permanent dead link]
  50. ^ Venta de Baños se hermanará con una localidad saharaui El Norte de Castilla, 16 December 2009 (in Spanish)

External links edit

26°09′29″N 10°34′01″W / 26.158°N 10.567°W / 26.158; -10.567