Friday, April 13, 2007

Khalihenna Ould Rachid is actually a reanimated corpse ghola from the techno-planet Ix

I'm (still) reading Erik Jensen's Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate. In the beginning of the book, Jensen says Sahrawis are called "Les Hommes Bleus" because they wear distinctive blue clothes. I'd never heard this before.

I made a connection to another desert's oppressed, indigenous, blue people: the Fremen in Frank Herbert's Dune. In the Fremen's case, their eyes turned blue from eating the important spice melange.

People who have read Dune should be optimistic about the Western Sahara's future, if these similarities point to something larger. If the Sahrawis follow the Fremen's path, they'll soon be united by a foreigner and gather planets into their empire. Here's hoping.

Writing this post, I'm remembering how awesome Dune is. Maybe I'll read it again and write a post about the borrowed Arabic words in the Fremen language.


  1. I know. They're pretty obvious, after all. I was going to do it for my own Arabic edification.

    When I saw your comment I thought you meant someone had already pointed out the Les Hommes Bleus-Fremen thing, and my mind was blown.

  2. Nope. But if there had been melange in Western Sahara, I'm sure there would be shady French spice companies trying to buy it.

    By the way, did you get my e-mail?

  3. Anonymous9:55 AM

    What wall? What occupation?
    It's time to stop Morocco's prevarication over Western Sahara.

    The Guardian
    13. April 2007
    Ian Williams

    It's not double standards, it's no standards at all. The world has let
    scoff-law Morocco ride roughshod over international law and the UN
    Charter. It helps to have friends!

    Their territory split by a huge wall built at enormous expense, an
    occupied Arab population suffers under police raids and arbitrary
    imprisonment while the occupiers try to swamp the territories with
    settlers from their own population. In response, the locals are
    beginning an intifada, but face a much larger, better-equipped military
    force, the beneficiary of substantial overseas aid. Refugees living in
    camps are refused the right to return to their homes.

    Despite clear decisions of the International Court of Justice and the UN
    Security Council, the occupiers hedge whenever it comes down to the
    question of a peace settlement that grants independence even when
    American emissaries try to nudge them towards serious talks.

    Welcome to Western Sahara, the occupation that admittedly has lasted
    only three decades compared with Israel's occupation of the West Bank
    and Gaza, but which has excited much less media interest.

    This week, the issue came back to what passes for the fore in this
    forgotten conflict, when the Polisario, on behalf of the Sahwaris and
    the Kingdom of Morocco both submitted their plans for the resolution of
    the problem.

    The Moroccan one is superficially attractive after all these decades,
    offering Scottish-style devolution. But their track record on keeping
    promises is far from stellar. Over 15 years ago, Morocco accepted a
    peace deal that involved the referendum on self-determination. The
    cash-strapped UN has spent hundreds of millions on keeping a force there
    to monitor the cease-fire and arrange a vote. But as soon as it became
    clear that Morocco would lose any vote that involved independence, the
    king and his father before him, gave prevarication a bad name. They
    tried to stack the voters' rolls, and when that failed, simply refused
    to allow a vote that asked the question.

    Morocco's human rights record leaves much to be desired, as indeed did
    Polisario's in the old days. But the Moroccan reticence about allowing a
    vote is eloquent testimony to the government's assessment of the popular

    What is the secret of Morocco's success? In essence, it is choosing
    friends carefully.

    Morocco claims Arab solidarity - and is one of the best friends of
    Israel in the Arab World. Immediately after the Moroccans occupied the
    territory despite the ICJ ruling that rubbished its territorial claims,
    the UN security council passed resolutions 379 and 380, which explicitly
    and unconditionally called on Morocco to withdraw. However, the French
    and Americans blocked the enforcing of these resolutions. According to
    then-US ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "the
    Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly
    ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. The task was given to me,
    and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."

    While the US's anti-communist fervour has died down - with communism -
    France has remained an important and unprincipled supporter of the king.
    Despite all that Cartesian rhetoric with which it opposed the invasion
    of Iraq, over the Sahara it has a novel and disturbing principle: the
    security council cannot impose its decisions on parties if they

    France has claimed there was a tradition of using consensus on Western
    Sahara, which was a bit like the apocryphal prisoner who had killed his
    parents and then asked for the court's sympathy because he was an
    orphan. Any such "tradition" developed in response to constant French
    and American attempts to railroad a pro-Moroccan position past the other
    security council members in defiance of all previous decisions.

    Britain's attitude seems to be that it does not have a dog in the fight,
    so it is prepared to go along with the Americans and the French. But the
    standing of international law, the UN charter and principles are surely
    a dog worth backing in any foreign policy with - in Robin Cook's words -
    "an ethical dimension". In the end, the illegal Indonesia occupation of
    East Timor succumbed to the persistent refusal of the world to recognise

    Polisario has made a very reasonable offer, which is in complete
    accordance with UN resolutions and international law. It could also
    offer, instead of a Scottish style solution with the Moroccan army and
    secret police still in occupation - a Canadian style solution. We will
    put King Mohammed on our coins and welcome an occasional royal visit -
    but nothing more.

    But in any case, the UK, the EU, and the UN, should stop accommodating
    Morocco and France and step up the pressure on Rabat. It's the law.