Friday, April 27, 2007

House members abuse franking privilege for Western Sahara

It turns out that Morocco Board and Robert Holley are craftier than I gave them credit for. Their letter garnered 180 signatures from members of the US House of Representatives, and will soon be sent to President Bush to urge him to support autonomy.

I looked closely for renowned Western Sahara haters, but couldn't figure out any signatures besides Representative Diaz-Balart. I also couldn't confirm whether my notoriously chumpy representative, John Culberson (R-TX) signed it, but I wouldn't put it past him. Typed lists please, Morocco Board! Some of these congressmen look like they're signing in Arabic out of solidarity.

Illegibility aside, 180 signatures aren't anything to sneeze at. I'm sure most of the congressmen signed because they're friends with Diaz-Balart or his co-sponsor, Rep Ackerman, or their aides are friends. Still, it's a substantial amount. Kudos to Morocco for getting Western Sahara more attention, kudos revoked for misleading people about it.

Devolution haters shouldn't be too worried, though, because a letter is also being sent to the President that denounces the autonomy plan. The letter says the autonomy plan might be a violation of self-determination. Interestingly, it also suggests that MINURSO should be discontinued. Signers include classy Zach Wamp and Maxine Waters, Houston's own Sheila Jackson Lee, William "I prefer my bribes chilled" Jefferson, and the delightfully-named Edolphus Towns.

Of course, the first two signers are Joseph Pitts and Donald Payne, those ubiquitous defenders of Sahrawi self-determination. Do you think they roll around the Hill together, maybe with James Inhofe? And then, when they see Diaz-Balart and Ackerman flipping pennies against the Congress convenience store, they rumble with them?


  1. Anonymous6:49 AM

    I don’t believe that 169 congressman can sign a letter agreeing on the Moroccan proposal without taking in account the other proposals and the Saharawis point of view
    It look that the Congressmen became a “victim” of high level lobbing
    Source said that even high profile Saudi Princes are engaged in that….

    Most of online arab media are talking about that as favor of Morroco proposal.
    Who care about Saharawis living in the desert or in refugees camps or occupied WS

    May somebody ask these Congressmen to visit the Saharawis and then make the judgment

  2. Anonymous7:34 AM

    Anonymous, I do care about refugees in the desert, and I call for Polisario to let them go. Instead of using there sufferings as arguments, Polisario should let them free. It doesn't matter if Saudi or Hindi princes are engaged or not. What matterts is the content of the Autonomy. This proposal will let Sahrawis run their region freely and have their own officials and administration. It's an excellent opportunity to solve the conflict peacefully. Why do Polisario prefer that people crave in the desert to living in an autonomous regime ?

  3. All of this discussion is great, and it brings up an important question: are there still Hindi princes? I wonder. I could see them existing through some weird byproduct of the partition.

    Anyway, Anonymous 1, I too have noticed that the Arab media is very pro-Moroccan. I suppose it's what people mentioned earlier (pan-Arab identity), plus a fondness for Morocco.

    Anonymous dos, I think the Tindouf as prison argument is more or less disproven (although the Tindouf Challenge did come up with proof otherwise). Presuming most of the refugees in Tindouf are there because they choose to be, I think Polisario opposes autonomy because it's a fait accompli--a lot of people think Morocco's original invasion of Western Sahara was unjustified, and their reasoning is that the autonomy plan rewards Morocco's invasion. Why not just hold a referendum?

  4. Anonymous #2,

    The only way that Morocco's autonomy is "an excellent opportunity to solve the conflict peacefully" is if the Western Saharans vote for it in a referendum in which independence is an option. Any forced autonomy by Morocco is a recipe for violence. Furthermore, the Polisario just doesn't have the right to bargain away the territory without a referendum on independence. I wonder whether the Polisario leadership would even survive if they gave up the fight for independence for autonomy.

    You say: " I call for the Polisario to let them [the refugees] go." Without a vote by the refugees themselves, how are you so sure they want to go? How are you so sure they would prefer life under Morocco?

    You say: "What matters is the content of the Autonomy." Without a referendum on independence, the content of the Autonomy plan doesn't matter at all, it is totally irrelevant. Not to mention that, given the autocratic and thoroughly corrupt nature of the Moroccan regime, it is doubtful that any autonomy proposal would really "let Sahrawis run their region freely."

    What would you have thought after Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait, if Saddam had offered Kuwait regional autonomy. (remember Saddam's rationale for invading was that Kuwait had been in the same administrative region as Iraq under the Ottoman Empire)I suspect you would have found that pretty funny. For similar reasons I find Morocco's autonomy plan pretty funny.

    And NO, you do not "care about the refugees in the desert." Why, if you care so much, do you reject their right to self-determination and support shoving autonomy down their throats?

  5. Anonymous1:24 PM

    The perfect way of handling the W.S issue would have been to organize a referendum, but it didn't work. The identification process died slowly. You can either move forward or keep crying on the referendum for another 30 years.
    I am not sure all the refugees will leave the camps if they have the ability, someone said before that some will prefer to go to Mauritania or Spain, others will go back to live with their families in the Moroccan side.
    Comparing the W.S to Koweit is irrelevant as the two cases are thousands of time different and more complex. Sahrawis have been living and moving in the area for decades or centuries, families from the Sahara and Morocco have mixed blood and live in many cities in the Sahara and in Morocco. How are you going to solve that: declare that the husband is Saharwi and the wife is moroccan and vice-versa. It has been going like that for decades.
    Other point, if Sahrawis are under occupation, as you claim, why all local authorities in the sahara are sahrawis, from the cities' regional councils (equivalent to US counties), to representatives, to cabinet ministers in the Moroccan governement, passing by governors, army officers, etc. They are occupying different positions in the local and moroccan governement. Do you want tell me that you are more Sahrawi than those ?
    And I DO care about the refugees. Who doesn't care are those who are playing with children in the camps as a card to highlight in front of the world and attract sympathy.
    In the camps, people move freely, between the camps maybe, but how can you leave from the desert ? There ain't no JFK there. You have the Algerian army at the border, polisario militias and the landmines. If a family needs to fill a U.N form to call their family in Morocco on the phone, how do you want them to buy a 4by4, find enough gas, water and food to drive miles, and on the top of that, escape the algerian army. It's possible yes, if you are at the movies !

  6. Anonymous1:54 PM

    Thanks to Will and Chasli

    To Anonymous 2 ( pro-moroccan )

    We don’t care about Polisario or Moroccan Regime . We care about ALL saharwis. Also those under moroccan occupation. Yes occupation
    All Saharawis treat Morocco Regime as an occupation . they ( Saharawis) don’t have anything against Moroccans but against the Regime who occupied their land and fired them from homes bombarding them by Napalm in the middle of 70-s

    You know why Saharawis are respecting Polisario. Because Polisario is created by Young Sahrawis in the earlier 70-s and they fighted against Spain them Morroco for more than 20 yrs
    So Saharawis in the refugees camps and in the Occupied WS also are trusting Polisario even those who don’t agree with Polisario politics

    Also Polisario now is not the Polisario of 70-s. something very different. You can find there all kinds of people. All politics views.

    As friends said above if Morocco Regime care about Saharawis really why they don’t ask them in free referendum what they want
    They are even afraid to give their “Autonomy plan” under free referendum ? who is afraid of truth ?

    Polisario said that if Morocco will win the free referendum organized by UN. They will the first who will congratulate Morocco so why Morocco Regime is afraid ?

    Of course they know very well that Saharawis will never vote in the favor of Morocco and this is the key

    In the end. Believe me . Morroco Regime want Western Sahra resources ( oil, phosphate, fishes….) they don’t care about Saharawis ( hundreds of young Moroccans are daily died in the deep of the sea to reach Europe giving away from poverty and un-employment …) and you want them to care about Saharawis !!!


    plz don’t think that Saharawis are against Moroccans NO. they are against the Moroccan Regime

  7. Sahrawis have been living and moving in the area for decades or centuries, families from the Sahara and Morocco have mixed blood and live in many cities in the Sahara and in Morocco.

    Well, far more Sahrawis are in Mauritania. In fact, Mauritania and W. Sahara are virtually the same country, when it comes to culture and family/tribal ties. You think that should perhaps make the country Mauritanian, or does this principle only apply to Moroccan Sahrawis?

  8. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Alle, it would make it moroccan-sahrawi-mauritanian. It sounds funny but it's true. There are Sahrawis who hold both a Moroccan and a Mauritanian ID. That's the magic mix that nobody has found a solution to yet.

  9. Hm. I wonder if there's some sort of correlation between numbers of hyphenated identities and length of resistance movement abbreviations. Anyway, three seems to be the magic limit, where you're no longer accused of dual loyalties, but triple disloyalties.

  10. Anonymous7:12 AM

    Hy everyone!

    Why not just finaly agree on one thing: sahrawis are simply moroccans. Some of the most prominent people in Morocco, are from laayoune, Dakhla, Smara. Ministers, Governors, human rights actvists, ambassadors.

    Just tell me why all those moroccans from southern Morocco, consider themselves as belonging to a Nation and not the 60.000 southern moroccans living miserably in the Tindouf camps?

    It's not beacause a man and his movement, financed with the money of our brothers, the algerian citizens, decides that Morocco is not his country, that Morocco should accept such a Diktat! Abdelaziz's brothers and his family live in Morocco like any moroccan citizen?

    This Autonomy Plan is the best and the most democratic intiative a country could make. I encourage our friends in the camps, our brothers in Algeria and even the Polisario to accept this great idea, sit down and talk.

    The best decison the US could take after the Irak desaster is giving peace a chance in the Maghreb!

    Haoula from Rabat

  11. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Hi all

    To Haoula:

    Believe and I Am Real Saharawi. I am not Moroccan . not Algerian not Mauritanian. Just Saharawi from occupied Samara

    30 ago when morocco invaded Western Sahara. NO Saharwi was in one the jobs you listed in Morocco.
    In the 70-s and 80-s Morocco forced young Saharawi to emigrate to Morocco and study and work there not in Western Sahara ( you know why Morroco don’t want to build one high school in WS for more than 30 yra of occupation ???? just because they want young saharawi to forget their traditions and their link to their land and become moroccans by FORCE )

    FYI. Only one Minister origin from WS in Morocco gov. Minister of Health. and he is born and spent all live in Morocco. He never been in Sahara. ( so it is very difficult to say that he have any ally with Sahara. Only for Regime propaganda )

    There are some escaped from Polisario ( why?) and they have no credibility for Sahrawis in camps or in occupied Sahara even in Morocco himself ( only for propaganda till their time off)

    The Autonomy is given in the earlier 70s by Spain to Saharawis they refused it. So why they accept now?
    Also if Morocco want the Autonomy why he don’t want to ask Saharawis in free referendum?

    Finally. As many Moroccans / high level politicians and governors too / think now.. The Autonomy for Sahara is VERY DANGEROUS to Morocco himself than free referendum settled by UN… there are many reasons … but the important is that Saharawis will never stop fighting for their rights and self-determination even under the Autonomy and this will be more hard for morocco. Simply Saharawis will be more powerful and organized than just some refugees in camps in Algeria

    Brahim from Smara

  12. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Brahim for Smara, if you think that Sahrawis will be more powerful under the Moroccan Autonomy, then let it be. Profit from your Autonomy and let the family reunite instead of craving in the desert.

  13. Will,

    By the way unless I'm missing something, it appears to me that William Jefferson is both for and against the Morocco plan, since he seems to have signed both letters. Gregory Meeks of NY also seems to have signed both. Interesting.

  14. Will,

    Just to make sure that I'm not becoming delusional I took a look at the actual signatures of Meeks and Jefferson in the 2 letters and they do indeed match. I wonder whether this was done on purpose or whether they are just clueless. Whichever, it still strikes me as strange.

  15. Now that's bipartisanship.

  16. That is odd. My money's on clueless.