Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Western Sahara is my new drug

Due to my tragic entry into the ranks of the gainfully employed, the blog is going to be woozy for the next day or two. Don't think that means no Western Sahara news, though.
  • The Algerian elections went down last week. Western Sahara Info has it covered. The North African "president" who supports Western Sahara (besides Abdelaziz) benefited. Celebrate the Littlest President's increased power at Or Does It Explode's photo gallery.
  • ARSO released another update on the Western Sahara. More blogs! Unfortunately, they're not in English.
  • Terrible wave of oppression sweeping the occupied territory. Western Sahara Info steps in once again. ASDVH also has coverage.

33 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:24 AM

    I am tired of the Algerians saying they have no stake in the conflict and yet they are taking Clay Swisher, the subject of an earlier post, to Tindouf. All expenses paid.

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  2. Sahrawifil10:28 PM

    What is the source of this information?

    Your obsession with Algeria is sad.

    Are the Saharawi students in Moroccan universities Algerian agents or have Algeria managed to brain wash them too? Which ones are causing trouble for Morocco these days, Saharawi students in Morocco or those in Cuba?

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  3. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Sahrawifil, you don't need a "source" to know about the Algerian handling of Polisario, just look at the map to see where Polisario HQ is located and you will understand.
    In case you still don't, go to a library to do some readings about the subject and you will find that its Algeria who funds, supply, and support Polisario and its representatives worldwide.

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  4. Sahrawifil12:48 AM

    I meant the source of information that Clay Swisher is going to Tindouf???

    Are you trying to avoid anwering questions?

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  5. I agree with the first commenter that Algeria definitely does have a stake in the Western Sahara conflict. However, I don't think its interest is entirely selfish--I do think many Algerians support self-determination.

    Where did you find this Clay Swisher info? I'm intrigued.

    Although really, is going to Tindouf that great of a bribe? I suppose it's good times if you're interested in Western Sahara, but I can't imagine someone being swayed just because they get a free trip to western Algeria.

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  6. Anonymous6:39 AM

    A comment on "I do think many Algerians support self-determination" : The Algerian people, like other populations in the region, don't have even the ability to choose their own governement and appoint their rulers. For more details, see the Algerian election posts on W.S Info. If the Algerians are denied the right to free political expression from their own governing apparatus, how can they have the right to say something about another territory, state or people, especially if the Army and the Intelligence is involved in it. Speaking about the Algerian Army and Intelligence, that's not exactly similar to the U.S model, these are independent organisations that are involved in the political arena (e.g 1991 putsch) and don't hesitate to kill tens of thousands to achieve their goals. To have a better idea, read about mass human rights abuse after the putch and during the 90's. To close the circle, now if you come and tell me that Algerians or Algeria care about people's right to express self-determination in order to live freely, that's what I would call: a joke.

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  7. Sahrawifil9:12 AM

    There is a saying ""if your house is made of glass, don't throw stones at your neighbors." So Moroccans stop criticising Algeria. Charity starts at home. Fix up you mess then you can criticise others. Algeria has not invaded and occupied Western Sahara. It is Morocco that did so in 1975 and continues to abuse human rights by torturing people and taking their eyes out: Look what you did to Saltana Khaya. Anonymous you have not answered the question about your source of information???

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  8. Anonymous9:57 AM

    Sahrawifil, I am not the first anonymous, so I am not going to answer for him/her. My point about Algeria didn't say that Morocco is the paradise of human rights. My comment intended to clarify the Algerian role in Polisario current existence. Like it or hate it.

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  9. Anonymous10:13 AM

    My source is in Algeria itself. They said they were taking him on a propaganda tour, because he seemed so gullible from his article. I am not obsessed by Algeria, I am just saying that if you claim that you don;t have stake, act like it.

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  10. sahraifil5:06 AM

    Anonymous you are not clear about your source. Where (in which media outlet) did they say they are taking him?

    I believe that Algeria's stake in this issue stems from the respect of its principles and its own history of colonialism and the struggle for freedom which cost Algeria a million and a half people dead. Perhaps it is difficult for those who have not been in the same plight to understand why anyone would support the struggle for freedom and independence. It is also difficult for some people to believe that others would stick with their values and principles without any other motives.
    Algeria's stake is also due to the fact that it is a neighbour of the innocent and small Saharawi people who found themselves facing two other greedy, selfish and expansionist neighbours of Morocco and Mauritania.
    Algeria is rich and has a huge country so it is hard to believe that Algeria would need Western Sahara. But if it does it definitely deserves everything because they have provided shelter, food and every kind of support to the Saharawi particularly when they were bombarded by the Moroccans and the Mauritanians.

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  11. Well, supppose someone is paying for a trip to the refugee camps for this Swisher character, be it Polisario, Algeria, some supporters' group or his own university -- then that's a good thing, right?

    I would assume everyone who comments here can agree that this conflict deserves more attention -- and that, if anything, Morocco should pitch in and give the man a free ticket to the other side too.

    (Also, if the camps really are concentration camps full of loyal Moroccan citizens, what better way to expose Mr. Swisher to the truth than letting him go there and have a look. And if not, then at least that's been cleared up)

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  12. Anonymous1:23 PM

    Alle, you are displaying some naivete here. The tours of the camps are controlled and tightly manipulatd by the authorities. So when I said that they will take him on a propaganda tour, that is exactly what it will be. And being a neophyte at the conflict, he will do exactly as told and meet only those they assign for him.

    Sahrawifil, I told you my source is in Algeria, not in the media. Also, for you to assume that the brutal Algerian generals are interested in the Sahara for humanitarian reasons, you will have to be somewhat delusional or a member of such establishment (since you think that Algeria deserves to actually own the Sahara).

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  13. anonymous -- I see. Have you ever been to the camps, or does this come from another one of your secret sources in Algeria?

    Because, every time I've been there, I've been free to go wherever I've wanted. Sure they'll want to show off some schools and hospitals on the Official Tour TM, but off the schedule, no one will bother you, as long as you promise to be back for tea. Same thing with people who live and work in the camps on a permanent basis for months in a row. They'll say there's corruption and nepotism and various other complaints that Polisario won't talk about -- but they'll completely debunk the Moroccan goverment's fanciful horror tales about Sahrawis being held hostage, climate of terror, pro-monarchy demonstrations, etc etc.

    (My absolute favorite was when the MAP told about how Polisario authorities had been so overwhelmed by the public grief at the death of king Hassan, that they had to allow demonstrations with the kings portrait. Who should feel more insulted at that, Sahrawis or Moroccans -- for being lied to like children?)

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  14. Anonymous10:24 AM

    Alle,

    I see you too have been on a propaganda tour :)

    I said earlier that you are siplaying some naivete, I think you displaying an abundance of naivete.

    What looks like a free tour to you is actually pretty vell manipulated and watched over. Even if you are not told you cannot speak to certain people, THEY are told they cannot talk to you about certain things, and they are being watched closely.

    Even you, if you go over your limits, you will be apprehended, kind of like what happened to the Australian journalists not long ago.

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  15. Sahrawifil9:01 PM

    From the way he writes alle is far from being naive.
    Thousands of people visit the camps and stay with Saharawi families with no problem whatsoever. If there was any problem someone would have discovered it.
    If Morocco is certain about its claims that the refugees are hostages why not let them vote in a free referendum to decide what they want.
    I think anonymous is confusing what Morocco does in the occupied areas with what happens in the Saharawi refugee camps. Or may he's so used to the Makhzen ways that he can't believe in freedom of speech and movement.
    Believe it or not there are no propaganda tours in the Saharawi refugee camps. Remember what Ali Lembrabat, the Moroccan journalist said about his visit to the refugee camps. He said that he had complete freedom of movement. Is Lemrabat naive too?

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  16. Anonymous1:34 AM

    Dear Sahrawifil,

    I appreciate your views and I am sorry that you and I do not see eye to eye. We obviously see the Sahara issue through different lens. And so for the sake of communication, allow me to lend you my lens just for a moment.

    For me the Sahara issue has been that of decolonization from day one. See, European powers have done all they could to slice up the continent into statelets, some more meaningful than others. In certain places on the continent, it would be messy, even catastrophic to move the borders in order for them to fit ethnic groups. In other places, it would not only be a mess, it would also be the right thing to keep things as they stand. the Sahara is an example of such a place.

    For Morocco, moving the borders means a collapse or the disintegration of the country. Clearly no person in Morocco will allow that.

    YOu see Morocco is a multiethnic kingdom. and if we were to allow everyone to leave based on different culture, then we will probably cut up Morocco into four separate countries, and following the same logic, Algeria into three countries, and perhaps Nigeria into 10 countries, and so on...

    So the fact that our Sahrawi compatriots speak Hassania Arabic rather than Darija Arabic or Amazigh is for us a source of strength and a call for unity, not disintegration and weakness.

    I am not well versed in international law, and i will not quote resolution X or Y, but I will appeal to a certain realism in you. A realism that says that we will survive together, not separate. Looking North I see a Europe that is thriving as a unity, in which a Basque, Flemish, or someone from Alsace-Lorraine, ceases to see themselves as this or that, but as part of a bigger purpose, and a larger entity.

    I agree with you that we cannot all bow down to Rabat, or to Algiers, or any other ruler. We must run our own affairs, move our own destiny, but draw on our unity, not separation. Divided we easily fall. We are less likely to get to democracy as different peoples fighting separate fights than we are together, moving together.

    Again, this is just the way I view things. I am certain you see them differently, but I am also certain that there are more things on which you agree with me than not. If only we have been communicating with each other for the last thirty years, the refugees in Tindouf would not be sitting in their misery today.

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  17. sahrawifil9:52 AM

    My dear anonymous your lenses are blurred. They need serious cleaning or rather cleansing. I am afraid that the way you sees things is affected by the cloud that lingers on your kingdom. Such a cloud is generated d by the long of Alawayites (1666) and the pollution that comes out of the Makhzen machine.

    Therefore, your vision is shorted sighted and adds nothing to the debate.

    Your claim about borders is not supported by any facts. The International Court of Justice ruling rejected in 1975 the existence of any sovereignty title or claim of either Morocco or Mauritania over Western Sahara and stated that the Saharawi people is entitled to the right of self-determination.

    Furthermore, the charter of the OAU now the African Union calls for the respected of borders inherited from the colonial period. Western Sahara is not and has never been part of Morocco. The UN and AU recognise the current borders of Western Sahara as they are inherited from the colonial period.

    Unity sounds good but it can’t be imposed by force. That’s not what the Europeans did. The EU was created to avoid wars and occupations not legitimise them.

    I believe that despite occupation and all the bad things the Moroccan regime did to the Saharawis, they are still prepared to forget and forgive but only after their rights to self-determination is respected

    So my fried clean your lenses, cleans yourself, read a bit of history on Western Sahara (not Moroccan propaganda) only then you can on the future of the Saharawi people.

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  18. sahrawifil10:07 AM

    My dear anonymous your lenses are blurred. They need serious cleaning or rather cleansing. I am afraid that the way you sees things is affected by the cloud that lingers on your kingdom. Such a cloud is generated d by the long rule of the Alawayites (1666) and the pollution that comes out of the Makhzen machine.

    Therefore, your vision is short-sighted and adds nothing to the debate.

    Your claim about borders is not supported by any facts. The International Court of Justice ruling rejected in 1975 the existence of any sovereignty title or claim of either by Morocco or Mauritania over Western Sahara and stated that the Saharawi people is entitled to the right of self-determination.

    Furthermore, the charter of the OAU now the African Union calls for the respect of borders inherited from the colonial period. Western Sahara is not and has never been part of Morocco. The UN and AU recognise the current borders of Western Sahara as they are inherited from the colonial period.

    Unity sounds good but it can’t be imposed by force. That’s not what the Europeans did. The EU was created to avoid wars and occupations not legitimise them.

    I believe that despite occupation and all the bad things the Moroccan regime did to the Saharawis, they are still prepared to forget and forgive but only after their rights to self-determination is respected

    So my fried clean your lenses, cleans yourself, read a bit of history on Western Sahara (not Moroccan propaganda) only then you can opine on the future of the Saharawi people.

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  19. Anon,

    What makes you think Morocco would collapse if it stopped the occupation?

    -JAK

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  20. Anonymous11:18 AM

    Well dear sahrawifil,

    In all honesty I am fairly uninterested in what the ICJ had to say. The international community has always been delibrately vague on all that it pronounces. And the OAU member countries have not been a beacon of enlightenment. Nigeria for example ought to look at its record with the Biafra (I think the Nigeria state killed - directly and indirectly -- between 1 to 3 million Igbo to prevent Biafra from seceding.)

    So, I can only offer you how I see things. Wether it has been fed to me since 1666 is really not important, that is the way I and the entirety of Morocco feel.

    I would like you to do that same. I want to see things from your perspective. What makes you think that you, if you are Sahrawi, should form an independent entity? What makes it so abhorent to you to have a self rule within a Moroccan federation? That's what I want to hear.

    You heard my view of things, and to answer Jak, I do believe that an independent Sahara will weaken Morocco and the region and precipitate some ugly result many of which will fit in a long laundry list that we have seen unfolding in many parts of the world. This list includes weakening the legitimacy of the regime, perhaps the rise of separatism in the Rif as well as in other countries of the region, and a disatrous influx of refugees who want to be part of Morocco, etc...

    We have to be responsible idealists and not create hell so that every ethnic group in the world will have their self-determination. For example, and contrary, to what my friend Sahrawifil said about the Basque and Corsicans, the Piedmontese, the Catalonians, they all, and many more who are thriving in Europe today, did not have the chance to pick which country to belong to. So why impose such ideals on Morocco?

    I, therefore, invite you to face the reality. Morocco is what it is today, and is eager to continue to democratize, but as one country not two.

    With all my respect!
    T--

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  21. What looks like a free tour to you is actually pretty vell manipulated and watched over. Even if you are not told you cannot speak to certain people, THEY are told they cannot talk to you about certain things, and they are being watched closely.

    Well, your secret Algerian sources notwithstanding -- in these cases, they most certainly were not. You should try a mid-day stroll in the camps some day: everybody, certainly including the Polisario activists, are stretched out in their tents half-unconscious. Any political surveillance would be limited to sticking your head out the tent to yawn and have a look at what the goats are up to, while the next round of tea is being prepared. It's not exactly East Germany.

    As to conversation, very similar to what I've experienced in Palestinian camps: when asked, people will happily admit to having all kinds of issues with their leadership(s), but meeting outsiders, they much prefer trying to get them to understand why Israelis should get out of their country.

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  22. Anonymous4:11 PM

    Dear Alle,

    You are making two egregious fallacies in your statement. One: Just because things look pretty chill in the camps does not mean the Sahrawi leadership is not capable of controlling what the people can tell strangers. You are going so far to say that since there is no Statsi, there is no control. An assumption perhaps that comes from your cultural misunderstaning of the countries you visit. I don't expect a Scandinavian to readily capture the culture fully and understand the often subtle ways in which leadership and people communicate.

    Two: you are comparing the polisario camps to palestinian camps. Moroccans did not come from Poland and Russia to take over the land. We took it back from the European occupiers like we took back Marakesh and Tetouane.

    Even in the palestinian case, there is such a thing as a new reality right now that is called israel, and any reasonable palestinian will have to acknowledge this historical reality.

    Cheers,
    T--

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  23. T,

    There are a large variety of disturbing comments you made, not the least of which are the unstated assumptions that: 1.) the consensus of the international community doesn't matter in respect to decolonization, 2.) the Moroccan monarchy is somehow legitimate and something that should be protected, and 3.) that Palestinians should implicitly not have their own state for largely the same reasons that you said about Morocco (it can easily be argued that an independent Palestine is far more dangerous to Israel than an independent Sahara to Morocco.) Underlying all of this, of course, is the profoundly disturbing idea that you should or should not do the right thing based on its alarmist consequences.

    -JAK

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  24. Anonymous5:12 PM

    1) the consensus of the international community doesn't matter in respect to decolonization,

    --> Pardon me, but I never said this. What I said was that the international community often makes vague statements, because in reality the international community is but a collection of states each of which has its own problems and interests to deal with and as a result in their collectivity rarely issue meaninful statements. The international community largely acknowledges Morocco's autonomy plan, and, I hate to say it, even if it didn;t Morocco will not relent on a life or death issue such as the issue of the Sahara. You are right that when the issue was indeed decolonization from Spain, the opinion was clear cut, not so with Morocco's sovereignty.

    2) the Moroccan monarchy is somehow legitimate and something that should be protected.

    --> The issue of the legitimacy of the Moroccan monarchy has been settled about 400 years ago in Morocco. The Monarchy is a symbol of unity in Morocco. And anything threat to the territorial integrity of the Kingdom is a threat to all its symbols and therefore its unity.

    3) That Palestinians should implicitly not have their own state for largely the same reasons that you said about Morocco (it can easily be argued that an independent Palestine is far more dangerous to Israel than an independent Sahara to Morocco.)

    --> That is not what I said about the Palestinians. I do believe that a Palestinian state however, must exist next to an Israeli state -- living in peace with each other. This very tenable for Israel/Palestine -- not for Morocco.


    4) Underlying all of this, of course, is the profoundly disturbing idea that you should or should not do the right thing based on its alarmist consequences.

    --> Well Jak, how else do you want to look at things on the international system if not by weighing the consequences. If the consequences are alarmist or catastrophic for the people of the region, then responsible leaders must find other ways to bring happiness and prosperity to their people. In this case: autonomy.

    Cheers

    T--

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  25. Simon Rodriguez7:02 PM

    It is really surprising to read some of the comments above, especially those coming seemingly from Moroccans or people who are in favour of Morocco’s position as to the longstanding conflict in Western Sahara.

    It is very surprising and shocking indeed that, in the 21st century, there are still people who have not been able to realise the fact that we, mainly in the west, have long ago left behind many centuries of dark ages in which absolute monarchs ruled by some metaphysical and supposedly divine rights, dominated vast areas and subjected many peoples to their cruel and inherently undemocratic rule.

    Our forefathers strove a great deal to bring those dark pages of our history to an end, and thanks to their efforts we now enjoy our freedoms and live in democratic countries where sovereignty is invested in the people and exercised through their democratically elected representatives, not by an absolute monarch that rules, reigns and has rights over everything spiritual and material.

    These are fundamental facts of which implications universally some people unfortunately seem unable to comprehend. Any sensible man or woman who genuinely believes in democracy, equality and human dignity will readily understand why the small people of Western Sahara continue to reject to be ruled by the autocratic and absolute monarchy in Morocco.

    The fact, which many Moroccans and other like-minded people do not want to see or talk about, is that Morocco is still ruled by one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world. Where in the world do you see a country in which the monarch rules and reigns, and whose poor subjects, including his ministers and senior officials, are under obligation to bow before him and pathetically kiss his hand? Where in the world is questioning the monarchical system is a sacrilegious act that implies death penalty? I know of no other country save Morocco that fits the bill.

    It is an unarguable fact that Morocco is still ruled by a feudal system at the helm of which is a monarch that rules on the basis of some highly questionable divine right (exactly as monarchs ruled in middle-ages Europe!), and has royal prerogatives to appoint ministers and dismisses them at will. He also can dissolve the ‘parliament’ of his majesty and rule by decrees. Above all, he is accountable to no one!

    Morocco is a country where more than 50% of the population is illiterate (of which 70% are women), and where a large part of the young population is unemployed. Many of those youngsters are now forced to flee the miserable conditions in Morocco and risk their lives sailing to Europe. Morocco is also a country where the dramatically deteriorating social-economic situation of many people has become a fertile ground for radical and home-grown terrorist groups. This is, indeed, the real Morocco that many people seem unable to see and decry.

    It will certainly be more productive for these understandably Moroccan nationalists to look inward and try to structurally reform their political system and improve the lives of millions of Moroccans, instead of reproducing the discourses of an autocratic ruling elite, with no regard for the welfare of its own people.

    As an outsider with some knowledge in the politics of the region, and mainly someone who believes in and cherishes the values of democracy and human rights, I understand very well and advocate the demand of the people of Western Sahara to live in a free and democratic state. I also understand why they have resisted to be ruled by Morocco, because simply no enlightened and democratic mind in the world can tolerate—let alone allow to be ruled by—an authoritarian and undemocratic regime as the one ruling in Morocco.

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  26. Anonymous8:02 PM

    T stated above that:
    1) International opinion is not important including that of the ICJ: This the familiar defiant attitude adopted of those who are wrong. It is the same attitude when adopted by Hitler when he invaded Poland. It is the same position adopted by Saddam when he invaded Kuwait. But we know what happened to them eventually.
    2)Moroccan monarchy: well if the Moroccan people are happy with the rule of the absolute monarch, his family and their cronies and generals. That's OK but I doubt it. Who want to live in a tyranical system with limited freedom of speech, poor while the King has dozens of palaces, his family and friends are very while the majority of Moroccans are. Who wants to be ruled by someone they have not elected? Who wants to bow and kiss a hand which could be dirty?
    3) Alarm and fear car: Any intelligent person will see through this. Morocco likes always to sing what the West like to hear or sometimes sing songs to creat fear and touch sensitive areas of the US Neo Cons brains. During the Cold War Morocco used to say that an independent Western Sahara will trigger a dominor affect and the red Communists are about to take over the regio. Please help us to keep them at bay. It is lie that Morocco will be affected by an independent Western Sahara instead Morocco will benefit: more stability and more money to spend on projects that will alleviate poverty and illiteracy that creating more suicide bombers.
    T, what you need to understand is that Western Sahara has never been Moroccan and will never be so even if it takes a thousand years. Why? simply because the Saharawi people don't reject the foreign occupation, don't want to be Moroccans and will never accept the fait a complit. You need also to understand that the international community legality matter. Because without them there will be coerce and the law of the jungle/desert will take over. Perhaps Morocco will be happy with that. But that is not the reality of the world today.
    The UN is the best organisation available for the world today. The UN continues to list Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory entitled to decolonisation. That's a big probelem for Morocco. That is why Morocco hate the UN. Morocco also hate the OAU/AU and left it the organisation in 1984. Will Morocco leave the UN too?

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  27. sahrawifil9:44 PM

    You want to draw me to a debate on the autonomy. No we I won't fall in that trap. The debate is not about autonomy but rather about the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara, its illegal occupation of the territory and its continuous abuse of human rights.
    So my vision is this: Morocco should either withdraw, admit that the Saharawis don't want to be Morocco or allow a UN sponsored free and fair referendum that allows the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence in accordance with UN resolutions, the verdict of the ICJ and UN doctrine regarding decolonisation. We should not forget that Western Sahara is still on the UN list of the Non-Self-Governing Territories entitle to a process of decolonisation.
    As a modern, democratic, tolerant state, the Kingdom of Morocco and its King, the Commander of the Faithful, will certainly abide by international norms and avoid being a pariah state. His majesty King Mohamed IV will find it in his kind heart, as the King of the poor; to have mercy on the small and innocent people of the Sahara and let them live their life in freedom as they have done for thousands of years. If the King allows Western Sahara independence this will go in history as a brave and wise move, will open a new chapter of peace and friendship in the Maghreb region. But if the King remains the hostage of the old Makhzen system, manipulated by the selfish group that benefits from the continuation of the conflict, he will go down in history as a weak King that added nothing to the history of Morocco and the region. He will be known as another bad King that wasn't able to take serious decisions and preferred to engage in his sport activities and enjoy gay times.

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  28. T -- Just because things look pretty chill in the camps does not mean the Sahrawi leadership is not capable of controlling what the people can tell strangers.

    Sorry, but it wasn't my Viking ancestry that led me to believe a trip to the camp can be useful info. It was that it was in fact quite useful. I'm very aware that Polisario puts on a show, and that people will sputter propaganda phrases in most instances, before you get to talk more seriously. But after that, you can get them to say some very unflattering things about Polisario.

    People who've stayed in the camps for much, much longer than I (several months or years), and some of whom are NOT very favorable to Polisario -- for having been there and seen the downside -- have said the same thing: they hear a lot of complaints and whining about Polisario leaders, corruption, etc, and even some people saying (in private) that they're thinking about going to Morocco instead, just to get out of the poverty; and a few -- not many -- saying that autonomy would be OK for them, if it would just end the problem. But they NEVER heard anyone expressing themselves in favor of Moroccan rule in Western Sahara. And statistically, you know, that has to count for something.

    Now, of course, everybody who has ever been there could be wrong about what they saw or heard. Or, perhaps: it could be that you, who have never been there, is wrong.

    you are comparing the polisario camps to palestinian camps. Moroccans did not come from Poland and Russia to take over the land.

    Ah, but here, dear T, you're the one making the logical fallacies. The mentality in the camps was very similar in both places, but that has nothing at all to do with who they're fighting.

    (Of course, it is entirely possible that all the Palestinians I met were also under Polisario control -- how would I know, with my confused Scandinavian heritage.)

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  29. T,

    1.) The international community has been pretty clear on this issue actually: many support the SADR, none support Morocco's claim to sovereignty, and all support the right to self-determination. The UN has called the Polisario the only representative of the Sahrawi people, and Moroccan activities an occupation. This is not exactly vague language. Again, I fail to see how the Sahara is a "life or death" issue. It's certainly a huge diplomatic, economic, and military drain, if that's what you mean.

    2) Monarchy, especially one that is as authoritarian and unchecked as the Moroccan form is an illegitimate and inefficient form of government. This is why there are only a handful of monarchies left in the world and the majority of them are far more impotent than Mohammed VI.

    3) It seems obvious to me that an independent Palestine which is filled with internationally-defined terrorist groups bent on the destruction of Israel by targeting innocent civilians is far more dangerous than an independent SADR. How is this not the case?

    4) You do the right thing if it's the right thing. International morality is no different than individual.

    -JAK

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  30. Anonymous4:03 AM

    Dear Rodriguez,

    I will assume from your name that you are from Spain, or maybe from a latin american country. If you are from Spain, you seem to suffer from amnesia, especially in your enthusiasm to refer to yourself as “we, mainly in the west, have long ago left behind many centuries of dark ages.” I am not sure what you mean by “long ago” but 30 years ago is not so long. It is pretty recent that Spain was ruled by Franco who readily enslaved the entire country. In fact the only reason that Spain is a democracy today is because the king decided that he does not want to rule, though he still reigns. And the reason why Spain is not still mired in poverty is because it was lucky enough to join the EU. So please do not lecture from a pedestal, ask your parents, if you are young or if you have amnesia, how they spent their youth and they will tell you.

    Morocco has gone further than any country in the region when it comes to economic, political, or social reform. Morocco is the only country that has had a truth and reconciliation commission that has faced up to the abuses of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Spain has yet to embark on such a soul searching process for its 60s and 70s, or its bloody civil war for that matter.

    Morocco has changed its laws to allow equal rights for men and women in issues of divorce, marriage and inheritance. No other country in the region except for Tunisia allows for such equality.

    Morocco is not perfect, but we balance our development with our capacities to develop, we cannot and will not outpace ourselves. I am not sure where you acquired the idea that the king in Morocco rules with absolute power. The king has power, but it is balanced with opposition groups, a thriving civil society, political parties, religious groups, business elite and so on. The system is not perfect but it is continuously fixing itself and people are constantly demanding and getting more change. We operate in an environment in which there are no democracies and Morocco has set out on a pioneer role to embrace democracy and the rule of law.

    Dear Anonymous:

    1) International opinion is not important including that of the ICJ: This the familiar defiant attitude adopted of those who are wrong. It is the same attitude when adopted by Hitler when he invaded Poland. It is the same position adopted by Saddam when he invaded Kuwait. But we know what happened to them eventually.

     I never said it was not important, I said it is never clear and often equivocal. As for Hitler’s invasion of Poland, it was wrong, but England and France chose to act on it not because they thought it violated some legal rights, but because they sought to balance again Germany. The same was the case for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and the response of the United States, which came after him because of oil not because they cared about Kuwaitis. It’s an ugly world. Similarly, Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria as the big movers in the OAU are only supporting polisario to check Morocco’s growth, which is a direct competition to all three countries on the continent. Still Morocco does go throw the pain to reach out to international law and international organizations, which commendable for a country that is guarding its right.

    2)Moroccan monarchy: well if the Moroccan people are happy with the rule of the absolute monarch, his family and their cronies and generals. That's OK but I doubt it. Who want to live in a tyranical system with limited freedom of speech, poor while the King has dozens of palaces, his family and friends are very while the majority of Moroccans are. Who wants to be ruled by someone they have not elected? Who wants to bow and kiss a hand which could be dirty?

     Please see above my answer to Simon Rodriguez.

    3) Alarm and fear car: Any intelligent person will see through this. Morocco likes always to sing what the West like to hear or sometimes sing songs to creat fear and touch sensitive areas of the US Neo Cons brains. During the Cold War Morocco used to say that an independent Western Sahara will trigger a dominor affect and the red Communists are about to take over the regio. Please help us to keep them at bay.

     You know just Morocco is saying it does not mean it is wrong, or at least I hope you would appreciate that logic. The polisario WAS an ally of the Soviet union during the cold war. They DID embrace socialist/revolutionary rhetoric. I am a socialist myself, but I am not sophomoric. I know what is possible and what can be done to help people within reason.

    4) more stability and more money to spend on projects that will alleviate poverty and illiteracy that creating more suicide bombers.

     Morocco is not the only country that is suffering from suicide bombing. Even the fact that some of the bombers in Spain are from Morocco, most of them actually spent most of their adult lives in that country.

    5) T, what you need to understand is that Western Sahara has never been Moroccan and will never be so even if it takes a thousand years. Why? simply because the Saharawi people don't reject the foreign occupation, don't want to be Moroccans and will never accept the fait a complit. You need also to understand that the international community legality matter. Because without them there will be coerce and the law of the jungle/desert will take over. Perhaps Morocco will be happy with that. But that is not the reality of the world today.

     Tell this to the Sahrawis who have joined Morocco and are ready to build a democratic future together.

    6) The UN is the best organisation available for the world today. The UN continues to list Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory entitled to decolonisation. That's a big probelem for Morocco. That is why Morocco hate the UN. Morocco also hate the OAU/AU and left it the organisation in 1984. Will Morocco leave the UN too?

     I agree that the UN is the best organization today. But please let not forget that the “UN” is just a building in which states come together to talk and solve collective action problems. To say that the UN matter independently of its member countries is like saying that a football stadium matters more than the teams coming to play in it. For the OAU, Morocco did the right thing to withdraw because it adds absolutely nothing to its well being to be a member and have to deal with petty competition from countries that need to look deep and long into their own records. Also, Morocco enjoys excellent bilateral relations with many countries in Africa.

    Dear Sahrawifil:

    1) You want to draw me to a debate on the autonomy. No we I won't fall in that trap. The debate is not about autonomy but rather about the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara, its illegal occupation of the territory and its continuous abuse of human rights.

     I am not trying to draw you into any debate. I genuinely wanted to know how you see things.

    2) So my vision is this: Morocco should either withdraw, admit that the Saharawis don't want to be Morocco or allow a UN sponsored free and fair referendum that allows the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence in accordance with UN resolutions, the verdict of the ICJ and UN doctrine regarding decolonisation. We should not forget that Western Sahara is still on the UN list of the Non-Self-Governing Territories entitle to a process of decolonisation.

     I respect your view, but it seems to me that the whole referendum process has not worked and the UN has admitted that much after 16 years of trial. Setting to try again will leave the people suffering in Tindouf for unforseeable future, which is not acceptable. That is why steps must be taken to repatriate the people while continued conversation between Morocco and the Polisario must go on.

    3) As a modern, democratic, tolerant state, the Kingdom of Morocco and its King, the Commander of the Faithful, will certainly abide by international norms and avoid being a pariah state. His majesty King Mohamed IV will find it in his kind heart, as the King of the poor; to have mercy on the small and innocent people of the Sahara and let them live their life in freedom as they have done for thousands of years. If the King allows Western Sahara independence this will go in history as a brave and wise move, will open a new chapter of peace and friendship in the Maghreb region. But if the King remains the hostage of the old Makhzen system, manipulated by the selfish group that benefits from the continuation of the conflict, he will go down in history as a weak King that added nothing to the history of Morocco and the region. He will be known as another bad King that wasn't able to take serious decisions and preferred to engage in his sport activities and enjoy gay times.

     I agree with you. That is Morocco has proposed an autonomy, which is in perfect compliance with international norms. Scotland’s autonomy within the UK could not be any different. This is only a step forward. I think there is a need to listen to the people more and answer their immediate needs.

    Dear Viking:

    1) People who've stayed in the camps for much, much longer than I (several months or years), and some of whom are NOT very favorable to Polisario -- for having been there and seen the downside -- have said the same thing: they hear a lot of complaints and whining about Polisario leaders, corruption, etc, and even some people saying (in private) that they're thinking about going to Morocco instead, just to get out of the poverty; and a few -- not many -- saying that autonomy would be OK for them, if it would just end the problem.

     I think your statement, though it is generous to the polisario reveals a lot. I wish you said more of these truths more often.

    2) But they NEVER heard anyone expressing themselves in favor of Moroccan rule in Western Sahara. And statistically, you know, that has to count for something.

     It’s ok because Morocco does not want to impose rule from Rabat. That is why there is an autonomy plan.

    3) Ah, but here, dear T, you're the one making the logical fallacies. The mentality in the camps was very similar in both places, but that has nothing at all to do with who they're fighting.

    (Of course, it is entirely possible that all the Palestinians I met were also under Polisario control -- how would I know, with my confused Scandinavian heritage.)

     My argument is that you cannot compare Palestinians to Sahraouis because Palestinians were delibrately uprooted from their homelands by people from Poland and Russia, and these Palestinians are not welcome back. The Sahraouis, not only were not made to leave by Morocco deliberately, their return is a rallying point for Morocco. But I am not questioning their mentality, or what your perceived to be their mentality, I am questioning the method by which they reached those conclusions and how much facts they were sharing with you.

    (Perhaps your Scandinavian heritage should get you to demand that Norway stop defying international conventions demanding that they do not kill endangered whales)

    Dear Jak,

    1.) The international community has been pretty clear on this issue actually: many support the SADR, none support Morocco's claim to sovereignty, and all support the right to self-determination. The UN has called the Polisario the only representative of the Sahrawi people, and Moroccan activities an occupation. This is not exactly vague language. Again, I fail to see how the Sahara is a "life or death" issue. It's certainly a huge diplomatic, economic, and military drain, if that's what you mean.

     Please note that many in the international community also support the Moroccan autonomy plan. The UN also said that the referendum could not be implemented.

     The Sahara issue is about secession and given that Morocco is a multiethnic state, it will open a Pandora’s box that no one in the region is prepared to deal with.

    2) Monarchy, especially one that is as authoritarian and unchecked as the Moroccan form is an illegitimate and inefficient form of government. This is why there are only a handful of monarchies left in the world and the majority of them are far more impotent than Mohammed VI.

     please see above for my answer to this question. Also, I am not sure you get to dictate what illegitimate for Moroccans. Most Moroccan see in the monarchy an institution that unifies the countries many languages and ethnicities and they are happy with it. The same Moroccan want more democracy and I think we are moving in that direction fasting and steadier that any country in the region, despite all the obstacles and the setbacks.

    3) It seems obvious to me that an independent Palestine which is filled with internationally-defined terrorist groups bent on the destruction of Israel by targeting innocent civilians is far more dangerous than an independent SADR. How is this not the case?

     I think you are being extraordinarily unfair to the Palestinians. I think that once Israel withdraws to 67 or thereabout, in a fashion acceptable to most, the Palestinians, will be able to focus on building their state. The polls do not support your statement. The vast majority of Palestinians just want to live in peace side by side with Israel. In addition Israel is so much more power than its neighbors that even if there existed groups bent on the destruction of Israel they will be so impotent in front of the Israeli state.

    4) You do the right thing if it's the right thing. International morality is no different than individual.

    I agree. We all should do the right thing. But the right thing is different for states than it is for individuals. States operate in a completely different set of structural contraints, that if they were to act like individuals they will be suicidal. If states acted like individuals, then one day George Bush should feel, maybe around Christmas, charitable enough to give away Texas to Mexico. Poor Mexicans they need it. :)

    Cheers,
    T--

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  31. T,

    1.) Who supports the autonomy plan? Why couldn't the referendum be implemented (possibly Moroccan intransigence?) The Sahara issue is not about secession, because that presupposes that the Sahara is a part of Morocco; it is about decolonization. By not respecting inherited borders, Morocco is encouraging ethnic clashes all over Africa.

    2) Moroccans are humans and as such, there are certain things to which they are entitled: literacy, a competent society, liberty, religious freedom. These things are impeded by the monarchy as such today. I don't really care if Moroccans want a monarchy, but whatever form of government they freely choose to have run their affairs for them should be revisable, actually chosen by the citizenry, and perform the most basic functions that I described above. I agree that Morocco is moving in the right direction (except in the Sahara), but look at your competition: Libya? Sudan? Mauritania had a much more dramatic democratization in the past 18 months and it's not like society broke down. Also, Mauritania's ethnic black/Arab split is far more dramatic than the multi-ethnic mix of Morocco.

    3) I'm not going to argue with you forever about Palestine. The only thing I have to say about this is that an independent Palestine actually does present a security threat to Israel. An independent Sahara presents no threat at all to Morocco (who invaded the territory and has a population 12 times larger.)

    4) Again, I won't debate for an eternity about ethical theory here, but states are composed of individuals and as such, as morally complicit in the same way. If an individual stole someone's land, threw land mines across it, forced him to live in squalor, and then pedantically offered to lease back his home, that would be wrong. It's no different when a state does it.

    -JAK

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  32. (Perhaps your Scandinavian heritage should get you to demand that Norway stop defying international conventions demanding that they do not kill endangered whales)

    There's a tactical truce on with the Norwegians, for Western Sahara-related reasons. After self-determination, I'll turn my attention to the Norwegian-Japanese-Icelandic axis of evil.

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  33. 1000 Swedes hiding in the weeds, chased by one Norwegian.

    That's a public service announcement courtesy of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.

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