Tuesday, October 8, 2013

El Salvador Grants Recognition to Kosovo as Haiti Cuts Ties with Sahrawi Republic

It’s been a week of one step forward and one step back for partially recognized states in the Old World trying to solidify diplomatic support in the Americas.  The Republic of El Salvador became the 105th sovereign state to recognize the independence of the Republic of Kosovo, but the Republic of Haiti surprised observers by revoking its diplomatic recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (S.A.D.R.) (a.k.a. Western Sahara), the former Spanish Sahara mostly occupied by Morocco.

The October 4th announcement on Kosovo came via the Twitter feed of Enver Hoxhaj, the country’s foreign minister, who learned of El Salvador’s decision through the Kosovar embassy in New York.  Kosovo had most recently received recognition from Libya, Grenada, and Thailand.  The former Serbian province, still claimed by the Republic of Serbia, has been steadily gaining diplomatic partners following the signal moment in December 2012 when the Commonwealth of Dominica, a former British colony in the Caribbean, became the 97th United Nations member-state to grant recognition, which pushed Kosovo over the 50% mark (as reported at the time in this blog).

Countries that recognize Kosovo are shown in green.
But Kosovo’s membership in the U.N. General Assembly is still blocked by two of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council—the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, both for reasons of paranoia about their own internal fissions and Russia for the added reason of an emotional pan-Slavic, and thus pro-Serbian, ideological allegiance.  Currently, Western allies of Kosovo are attempting at least to convince some of the holdouts among Kosovo’s immediate neighbors, in particular Romania and Greece.

In the case of Greece, Kosovo’s secession still brings up ugly memories of the predominantly-Slavic Republic of Macedonia’s emergence from the wreckage of Yugoslavia in 1993.  Athens still points out that Macedonia is historically a culturally-Greek region lying mostly within Greece (Alexander the Great was Macedonian, for example).  Greeks also seem unable to shake memories of the Second World War, following which a new Macedonia within Yugoslavia—with the current republic’s borders—was founded by partisans of a fascist insurgent army which had connived in Nazi-allied Bulgaria’s invasion of Greece and had tried to seat an Aromanian nationalist as voivode (prince) of an independent Slavic state in the Macedonia region that would be a refuge for Greece’s Aromanian minority as well.  (Aromanians speak a language related to Romanian.)  Romania itself, a staunch European Union and NATO member, will probably come around.  (See more detail on Kosovo’s status in my blog article from last year on the subject.)

The dotted line shows the approximate extent of the traditional Greek region of Macedonia.

Other European holdouts include Spain, which has its own internal Basque and Catalan separatist movements, and Slovakia.

Countries that recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic are in green.  Dark grey are those, including Haiti, that have withdrawn recognition over the years.  The S.A.D.R. itself is in red.
A bit less understandable than Kosovo’s successes and setbacks is the recent move by Haiti, announced this week, to withdraw its 2006 recognition of the Sahrawi republic.  The S.A.D.R. claims all of Western Sahara but the “black,” sub-Saharan Sahrawi people are at the mercy of the brutal repression of (Arab) Moroccan occupation forces.  The S.A.D.R., which administers only a sliver of land behind a series of sand berms erected by Morocco, is recognized by 49 countries, only just over a quarter of U.N. member states, including most of Africa and a considerable number of Latin American countries as well—also by the African Union (A.U.).  Haiti follows a few other Caribbean nations in withdrawing membership—mostly as a result of buckling to diplomatic pressure from Morocco, which is something of a diplomatic pariah nation within Africa but which for countries farther afield is a more promising economic partner.

In red is the territory controlled by the partially recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
But in Haiti’s case it is disappointing because of the country’s symbolic role for African anti-colonialists.  In 1804, after a successful slave revolt, Haiti became, in terms of the modern system of nation-states, the second independent modern state in the Americas (after the United States) and the first Black republic anywhere.  In the late 1960s, Haiti was also the only non-African state among the five that recognized the Republic of Biafra before that nation was crushed by a brutal siege by Nigeria.

Haiti symbolizes freedom from colonialism for many sub-Saharan Africans—
but this week not so much.
Pan-African unity is supposed to be a big deal for Haiti.  Perhaps it will before long come to its senses and put ideals before economics and convenience.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it some time in 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]


  1. Thank you for posting. I like reading your blog. Keep it coming :)

  2. Please get your facts right:
    Firstly, Sahrawi people are not “black,” sub-Saharan; they are Arab, their language is “Hassani Arabic” derived from Classical Arabic. I challenge anyone to distinguish between them based on the skin colour.
    Secondly, the majority of Moroccans are nor Arab; they are Berber.
    Berber people are the indigenous people of North Africa, they lived there centuries before the Arabs (including the Sahrawi people) invaded North Africa.
    Please get your fact right and do not portray this conflict as if it was between the “black” sub-Saharan people and the Moroccan “Arab” “oppressors.
    The fact of the matter is that this conflict is caused by the former colonisers (Spain) and some neighbouring countries (Algeria, Libya) to serve their economic and politic agenda.
    If you want to talk about real conflicts in Africa, you could mention the colonisation of two Moroccan (African) cities (Ceuta and Melilla) which are STILL occupied by Spain

  3. The part about Macedonia (especially the WW2 one) is wrong in so many ways, that I don't know from where should I start to object. I'm Macedonian myself and you made me so confused, I needed to reread the whole thing all over and again i came up with nothing. And that dotted region that you call "greek macedonia" represents in fact the geographical region of Macedonia, which is totally different. Better erase that whole section, it is irrelevant for the main text anyway.


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