Throughout history, many walls were built for different purposes, mainly as means of protection and defence. Although the Moroccan wall in Western Sahara (also referred to as the “berm”) was clearly constructed as a defensive barrier, it is very different from other known defensive walls in terms not only of its magnitude and structure but also its destructive capabilities and enduring impacts.
In the history of the conflict in Western Sahara, the end of the 1970s was marked by intense fighting between Moroccan forces and the Sahrawi army. During those confrontations, the Moroccan forces, despite their superiority in numbers and military power, had many military defeats. In order to stop the attacks of the Sahrawi army, King Hassan II of Morocco, with the help–according to several sources–of French, American and Israeli military advisers, ordered the construction of a huge line of defensive walls whose construction lasted seven years.
The construction was carried out progressively in 6 phases, each of which expanded the territory occupied by the Moroccan army. Between August 1980 and April 1987, six walls of different lengths were built. With the construction of the sixth wall, a long line of fortifications of about 2,720 km long was established. It extends from southern Morocco to the south-western tip of Western Sahara. It is considered “the greatest functional military barrier in the world”, according to international analysts.