Monday, April 16, 2007

Erik Jensen and Frank Ruddy: a love that dare not speak its name

The Western Sahara dispute is propelled by famous personal rivalries: King Hassan and Houari Boumedienne, for example, or James Baker and whoever gets in his way.

My favorite Western Sahara rivalry, though, is the one between Erik Jensen and Frank Ruddy. Erik Jensen led MINURSO from 1994 until 1998, when it was trying to implement the Settlement Plan's referendum registration. Ruddy worked under him.

Judging from Ruddy's comments, the two don't like one another at all. Here's Erik Jensen's testimony at the star-studded House subcommittee on the Western Sahara, from 2005:
The Moroccans demanded that the UN flag be taken down from the voting area, and to my left is Erik Jensen, who actually carried that out.

Moroccan journalists were asked to be allowed into the voting areas so that they could produce films for television. They were in fact from Moroccan security and they were used simply to take the pictures of all the Sahrawis who were there. Not 1 second ever appeared on television.
More tasty morsels from their beef as I find them.

Speaking of Erik Jensen, I finally finished his book Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate. I liked it, though not nearly as much as I liked Endgame in Western Sahara. I'll give Erik Jensen credit for one thing: it's impressive that he didn't go insane trying to match intractable Sahrawi and Moroccan negotiating positions.


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    Today Algeria annouced that it is no longer interested in supporting Polisario, for the sake of a better future and prosperous future for all the citizens of North Africa and the mideteranean bassin. As such, a press release from the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs of Algeria annouced that both Morocco and Algeria are currently repatriating the civilian sahraouis from Tindouf to Morocco. They have annouced that the repatriation process will last a good two weeks. Several moroccan government institutions are being mobilized to ensure that the transportation, safety and the reestablishement of these citizens is seamless. hundreds and hundreds of buses and trucks have left several cities of Morocco and are now headed to the border at Tindouf in order to relocate the jubilant civilians. "I have been waiting for this day for decades, at least now I can spend time with my grandchildren" said an elderly moroccan sahraoui lady. The South African Foreign affirs office has declared that it is in the process of shuting down the polisario embassy in Pretoria.
    The Algerian President Bouteflika has been receiving calls all evening from ecstatic arab and muslim leader praising him for his foresight and wisdom. The African Union has declared that it knew all along that it was making a mistake by recognising a group of 100,000 who wants to have a country twice the size of New York state. It has also exoressed its apology to the 40 millions plus moroccans. A moroccan kid on the street said "it feels like we just the woprld cup".

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    of course the above story is fictional, but the point is that, should Algeria withraw itself from this conflict by allowing the civilians to return to Morocco, there won't be any conflict anymore. Everyone will end up a winner.

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