Monday, February 12, 2007

Sahara-Watch on autonomy and confederation

While he spends most of time acting as a go-between for small arms traders, Sahara-Watch devotes a few minutes every month to reminding me I'm not the only Anglophone Western Sahara blog. He's written two posts recently that explore a compromise between independence and CORCAS's autonomy proposal: confederation.

In the first post, Sahara-Watch wonders if a confederal system wouldn't work well for the Western Sahara. It would retain most of the benefits of independence without humiliating Moroccans and their king. Moreover, it would allay their fears that Western Sahara would become an Algerian satellite. It sounds good to me, but I don't think it'll work for two reasons. First, Morocco seems content with the status quo, and will only accept increased integration. Also, Polisario/SADR are reluctant to compromise because, at least by international law, they have all the moral and legal capital.

UPDATE: Apparently, I misinterpreted Arre's comments. Revisions to follow.

The second post draws attention to a comment made by Arre on the first. Among other things, Arre sets out the requirements for any successful autonomy proposal:
  • Foreign commitment to prevent Morocco from subverting autonomy provisions, like Ethiopia did to Eritrea.
  • Foreign money to support the new government and assuage Morocco.
  • Enough devolution that the autonomy plan doesn't seem as unfair as CORCAS's
  • A clause distinguishing Western Sahara from other separatist regions.
  • Something that exercises Sahrawi self-determination, whether it be a referendum or a more legitimate CORCAS-style commission.
In all, some of the most astute writing I've recently read on political developments in the Western Sahara.

1 comment:

  1. arre/alle2:56 PM

    I would just like to point out, that I did NOT write that a CORCAS-style commission would do it for Western Sahara. Rather the opposite: if the self-determination problem is not dealt with seriously, the issue will not be permanently buried, and if it comes back, it will be far nastier than in its present form (where you have universally recognized borders, clear-cut representatives of both parties, no terrorism, the discourse rooted in law rather than tribal/ethnic/religious passions, etc).

    And the CORCAS is, I say again, NOT in itself a serious alternative to self-determination. No solution will ever work unless it is accepted by the loser, which in the case of Sahrawis at the very least means conforming to international legality. The vast majority of nationalists may in the end accept losing their country, but if it happens through overt fraud (like the preposterously rigged "CORCAS said yes"-option), then the wound will not be closed despite autonomy.

    And since the CORCAS model of autonomy by its very construction underlines both Sahrawi tribalism and separateness from Morocco, it is kept open, while at the same time all positive content in the Polisario discourse (non-tribalism, secularism, 1975 borders etc) wither away. Come crisis in Western Sahara, Algeria or Morocco, and the issue returns with a vengeance.

    A legit referendum between wide autonomy and independence, on the other hand, is a perfectly legitimate and probably sustainable way out of the issue. Morocco even stands a fair chance of winning that.