Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Does a diplomatic solution lie with France or the United States?

I'm reading Endgame in the Western Sahara, by Toby Shelley. It's the most entertaining and readable book I've read about the Western Sahara (I've only read two, counting Roots of a Desert War, which I stopped reading when the pre-colonization part got boring).

The first chapter is about the relationship of world powers to Morocco, Algeria, and the Western Sahara. It's sad that because, if Shelley's right, Polisario could have won the war in the late 70's to early 80's if France and the United States hadn't given Morocco so much aid and weapons to shore up its faltering army, government, and economy. The two countries were motivated by complex desires, including larger Maghreb economic integration and keeping the entrance to the Mediterranean a Western ally.

I've long thought that if the United States gets serious with Morocco and withhold aid until a referendum is held, the Sahrawis have a good chance for independence.

In Endgame, though, Shelley makes a strong argument for France being the prime non-Maghreb mover in Western Saharan independence. France's veto of an otherwise unanimous UN Security Council vote calling for Morocco to better protect Sahrawi rights is one example, and French companies account for 24.3% of imports to Morocco (as of 2000).

While I still think the United States, as one of Morocco's most influential allies (and, if the term's still applicable, the remaining superpower) could cause great change in Morocco, there's much to be said for France. If a strong French divestment movement could get running, Morocco would have to pay attention.

Does anyone know of any French pro-Western Sahara groups? I know much of ARSO's in French, but it's based out of Switzerland.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:33 PM

    you must be foolish to believe that author..she must have been bribed by the algerians to write that stuff...the western sahara is to morocco as the basks are to spain as the kurds to Iraq. In gods name please inform yourslf from both sides before you make polictal statement. Did you know that nearly all heads of tribes living are back in morocco as they dont believe the moneyswindlers from algiers anymore.Did you know that the father of the head of the seperatist group is ashamed of his dollar loving son.THese people have agendas for thereselves too! Anyways I really hope that one day you live in algeria...then you will peep otherwise..

    Greets, nice blog

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  2. "she must have been bribed by the algerians to write that stuff"

    Because people are incapable of taking a principled position on any issue without outside influence by a self-interested state?

    "the western sahara is to morocco as the basks are to spain as the kurds to Iraq."

    An oppressed minority?

    "In gods name please inform yourslf from both sides before you make polictal statement."

    A standard you've clearly made every effort to conform with here.

    "Did you know that nearly all heads of tribes living are back in morocco as they dont believe the moneyswindlers from algiers anymore."

    Not really sure what you're getting at here, but some evidence might be nice.

    "Did you know that the father of the head of the seperatist group is ashamed of his dollar loving son."

    Quite apart from the lack of evidence one might ask whether a crappy leadership would reflect on the justness of the Saharawi cause. I would suggest not (cf the Palestinian Authority).

    "THese people have agendas for thereselves too!"

    And you of course don't?

    "Anyways I really hope that one day you live in algeria...then you will peep otherwise.."

    Because, presumably, the only way one can understand something is to go there? No doubt it's helpful, but by this argument there's no point in studying history as, by definition, we can never go there. One might also point out as well that in any geographical area there are likely to be a proliferation of views. Some in all likelihood coinciding with your own, but many doubtless taking the contrary view.

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  3. My opinion is that a diplomatic solution lies among Sahrawis themselves. That's the starting point. When Sahrawis will make their choice for the name of the country they want to live in, then international support should follow, not the opposite.

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  4. Did any one ask what the Saharawi want ? I bet if you ask any one the will simple ask We want free Western Sahara........

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  5. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Hi Will

    Check these French websites for pro Western Sahara

    http://www.sahara-info.org/
    http://www.sahara-occidental.com/

    ……………………..
    Don’t pay attention to the „anonymous Moroccans” writing here. They have right to write here on WS but you all can’t imagine that “they don’t have the same right in their own country..” No body in Morocco can talk about Western Sahara on public …

    May they think that they are right if they are more online than Saharawis. Wrong

    May they can manipulate the Moroccan or Arab public opinion on WS issue but they cant do the same with European or American ….cant work… they have no enough proves….


    Regards
    Desertman

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