Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Strike, my minions!": King Mohammed pulls out the big guns

I can't remember how I ended up signing on for email alerts from Morocco Board, but I'm glad I did. Usually I just find out that a Moroccan concert in DC was a great success, but sometimes I get gems like this, telling Moroccans to urge their congressmen to support the autonomy plan.

What I find most irritating about the call to action is how it frames the autonomy plan as Morocco's answer to a question the diplomatic community continues to ask: "The Moroccan initiative comes in response to repeated requests of the United Nations Security Council and several of its key members, including the United States, that Morocco propose a solution to this longstanding problem." No one's asking Morocco to propose an autonomy plan--the UN and most of the international community still want a referendum.

Check out this letter written by Reps. Diaz-Balart and Ackerman to President Bush supporting autonomy. I'm familiar with Lincoln Diaz-Balart's particular brand of venality or naivete, according to your taste. But who is Gary Ackerman, D-NY? I've written him a letter about the Western Sahara for good measure.

I suppose Moroccans lobbying the government at least might attract lawmakers' attention, and then the truth will show them who to support (maybe?). It's certainly better of them to use grassroots (sandgrains?) activism than Robert Holley.

More later this week on another one of Morocco Board's crusades, this time against Wikipedia tricksters. If only editing was limited to state actors, our problems would be solved!


  1. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Spanish Fishermen Enter Moroccan Waters

    Monday April 23, 1:59 pm ET

    By John Thorne, Associated Press Writer

    Spanish Fishermen Enter Western Sahara Waters Under Contested EU-Moroccan Deal

    RABAT, Morocco (AP) -- Spanish fisherman began fishing the waters of occupied Western Sahara on Monday, Moroccan fisheries officials said, under a deal with the European Union that critics say may break international law.

    After an eight-year absence, the Spaniards have returned under a deal Morocco signed last July allowing 119 boats from EU member states to fish the North African kingdom's Atlantic waters for the next four years in return for $181 million.

    The inclusion of rich waters off the coast of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara has provoked an outcry, with critics saying the deal robs the territory's indigenous inhabitants of resources.

    "Three Spanish boats have been granted licenses so far and are fishing off (Western Sahara)," said Ahmad Jouker, management chief of fishing accords at Morocco's agriculture, rural development and fisheries ministry. An additional 47 Spanish boats were fishing the waters of Morocco proper Monday, Jouker added.

    EU member Sweden opposed the new agreement because international law does not recognize Western Sahara as Moroccan territory.

    No country recognizes Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, which the United Nations classes a non-self-governing territory. Some 40 countries recognize the authority of the exile government set up by the Saharawi independence front Polisario in neighboring Algeria.

    The Polisario has condemned the fishing deal.

    The United Nations decreed in 2002 that Morocco does not hold oil exploitation rights in the Western Sahara and cannot legally grant exploitation licenses, prompting several Western oil companies to back out of deals with the kingdom.

    A preliminary fishing agreement was signed in 2005 and won European Parliament approval in spring 2006. Morocco hopes the deal will open doors to further cooperation with the European Union.

    "Morocco is positioning itself as the European Union's preferred partner in the region," Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou said Monday in the capital, Rabat, after a meeting with EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg, reported the state news agency MAP.

    Morocco annexed most of Western Sahara in 1975 after its Spanish colonizers withdrew. Morocco now proposes limited autonomy for the desert territory, which most Saharawis oppose because it would bury any chance for independence.

    Polisario maintains its demand for an independence referendum, but has offered to share administration of Western Sahara's resources with the Moroccan government if a Saharawi State emerges.

    The U.N. says any solution to the conflict must be accepted by all parties and is pushing Morocco and Polisario to hold direct talks under U.N. auspices.


  2. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Hi Will

    May this will be interested for your blog visitors:

    Western Sahara issue today on Al –Jazeera Channel news

    Western Sahara issue will be today in one of the most popular live show in the Middle East at Al Jazeera Satellite news Channel broadcasting from Doha, Qatar ( 09.00 GMT)
    Arabs, Moroccans and Saharawis can take part in this show by calls, emails ( but of course Al Jazeera will pass only those they want !)

    Generally WS issue is not popular in ME mass-media like the Palestinian one. Even Arabs are mostly pro-moroccan for many reasons. Officially they said they don’t want to break the Arab unity !!!!

    But Saharawis have a piece of luck that the issue of WS is not on the “arab table” only in the UN and AU table.

    Anyway today show will be very watched by both side for PR reasons too


  3. Anonymous2:41 PM

    In previous you talked about the Internet coffee in Dajla refugee camp. see the picture here and the woman which manage the Escuela in Dajla too

    El ciber de Dajla - Internet cafe in Dakhla refugee camp


  4. Thanks for the picture. It's good to know people in the camps can get to the internet.

    Desertman, I totally forgot to credit you on the post I made about the al-Jazeera show. Did you watch it? Which side won?