Friday, March 16, 2007

How I met President Abdelaziz

Fresh out of the United Nations, Mohammed Abdelaziz and his Fightin' Sahrawis stopped in Washington. I knew I couldn't pass up this chance to meet the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Polisario.

Mouloud Said, the unofficial SADR ambassador to the U.S., was nice enough to invite me to a reception for the group. I grabbed visiting high school student and belated Western Sahara-phile Patrick Mahoney and we were off.

The event was more intimate than I expected, my only other experience with a Western Sahara event being the Aminatou Haidar reception. Held in a Virginia's family's house, there was a delicious dinner and desert. And Patrick and I were thinking about getting Chipotle!

Anyway, we showed up and from the beginning were treated like we belonged there. Ambassador Said introduced us to everyone, including a big muckity-muck at the Algerian embassy, the Algerian ambassador to the U.S., the SADR United Nations delegate, and (I think) the Algerian UN delegate.

Then I was introduced to President Abdelaziz, who asked me why I haven't been to the camps yet. I'm working on it!

Right after this picture was taken, President Abdelaziz stole all my pots.

Other notables included Suzanne Scholte of the US-Western Sahara Foundation and Khatry Beirouk, who runs Western Sahara Online. One of President Abdelaziz's advisors was there, and he was cool too. It was a love-fest!

The couple that hosted the dinner (whose name I forget, unfortunately) is making a documentary featuring their son and his friends, who went to Tindouf. They're teenagers, and the idea is that the Western Sahara is such a clear issue even teenagers can understand it, so what's your deal, United Nations? Even better, one of the kids in the video made delicious brownies for dessert.

There are serious problems with President Abdelaziz and SADR. For example, he shows no signs of stepping down as president-in-perpetuity, and the treatment of Moroccan POWs was reprehensible. Still, after meeting the President and his entourage I feel surer than ever that the Sahrawi people deserve independence and will be successful once they achieve it.


  1. Anonymous5:41 AM

    Hi Will
    it was nice...

    I was in the camps. people are poor and living in very difficult conditions but they are very smart and gentle

    Saharawis are really nice people
    Women there have a lot to do and say ( completely different than in other Arabic countries ...)

    They reduced the analphabetism from more than 90% in 70s to around 4-10% now and this is one of Mr Abdelaziz achievements. In the political and diplomatic issues They have problems by depending only on Algeria and other “small” political parties in Europe
    But they are trying now to “think outside the box”…

    May now the “US public opinion” can hear about WS.
    You can notice that Mr James Baker III and some of his former WS advisers are trying to tell “some” of the True about WS issue…

    Hope all best for saharawis


  2. Did you tell Abdelaziz that you put CORCAS sign on your room window ? Ok, that was a joke.

  3. Ha, no on the CORCAS sign. Speaking of which: only one week left of puppet council supporting shame.

    Desertman, judging from the increasing media interest in the Western Sahara, I wouldn't be surprised if SADR got more support.



  5. That's totally inappropriate. What next, Kate, Driss Jettou slash fanfic?

  6. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Kate moved her photo and put Will phto hahahahahah

  7. Anonymous10:15 AM

    abdeloaziz is a terorist