Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Kerr-McGee Golden Camel

If there's one thing I learned from cable news, it's that people love regularly-given joke awards. Whether it's Bill O'Reilly's Most Ridiculous Item of the Day, or Keith Olbermann's Worst Person in the World, viewers eat it up. Why should Western Sahara fans be any different?

I'm starting the Kerr-McGee Golden Camel, awarded around biweekly for excellence in respecting the Saharawi right to self-determination. The first recipient is also the award's namesake: now-defunct oil company Kerr-McGee Corporation.

In September 2001, Kerr-McGee obtained a permit from Morocco to test for oil and gas in an offshore region of "south Morocco" (the Western Sahara). This May, however, Kerr-McGee withdrew from the Western Sahara after an international pressure campaign, saying they would focus on proven hydrocarbon fields.

Whether or not the pro-Saharawi activists were responsible for the withdrawal, Kerr-McGee did the right thing by leaving the Western Sahara. By refusing to renew the exploration agreement, they stopped legitimizing the occupation, and made discovery of oil under the occupation more difficult. If phosphate discoveries were responsible for the invasion, it's difficult to imagine what Morocco would do if a sizable oil or gas deposit was found in Western Sahara.

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A Kerr-McGee representative accepts the inaugural golden camel.

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