Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Western Sahara bickering used to be so innocent

These are heady times for Western Sahara fans. Alle from Western Sahara Info writes astutely about the occupation, Toby Shelley kicks ass and chews bubblegum, Robert Holley comments on blogs, and I stumble through comments of my own. But did you know that the same thing was going down last August?

I've had the good fortune to come across this post on North Africa Journal, a blog about the Maghreb. The post itself is a rumination on the United States's relation to the Moroccan occupation, but the real juice is in the comments. Alle, Toby Shelley, Robert Holley, Mohamed Brahim of Western Sahara Echo, and I all commented. It's like Battle of the Western Sahara Stars, the post game!

It goes down like you might expect. Alle brings facts and points, he gets into a talk with a nice Moroccan, and Brahim pops in at one point. Toby Shelley has a juicy cameo, featuring the line " As to autonomy, it is unthinkable that the Makhzen could offer anything more than the power to empty municipal trash cans."

My own comment makes it obvious that I only learned about Western Sahara a week or two before. The real juice comes, though, when a Moroccan calls out Robert Holley, the Moroccan-American Center for Policy's executive director and King Mohammed VI's paid pal.

Holley does a little introduction and complains about Polisario corruption, linking to a shifty organization beloved by Tommy Thompson and George "Horse's head in your mailbox" Allen.

One Moroccan, however, is having none of it. His/her comments, in full:
Mr Holley,

You say:

“We are supported by the Moroccan government to undertake academic work and educate individuals on Morocco.”

As a Moroccan taxpayer, I am compelled to ask, what has your organization achieved, concretely?

If we were - and this is the most useless and abused statement ever - the United States’ oldest ally/friend…What has your center added to this friendship ?

Even the website for the “Moroccan American Center for Policy” is bland and redundant. All it contains is the contact information of two people, and recent news.

I’m not accusing you in anyway. Just tell us, if it is our taxes that pay for your center, what have you achieved, results wise, for Moroccan-American relations?

Don’t get me wrong, we’re very happy that someone of your experience is championing our interests. Just understand our thirst for transparency - American style.

Surprise us,
Zing. I haven't seen that much burning since the 1976 invasion.


  1. Wow. I guess you're not only the first English-language Western Sahara blogger -- you're also the first ever Western Sahara meta-blogger. The logical next step must be for someone to start a fanblog with commentary about One Hump or Two.

    (Of course, I'd like to to be that someone, but unfortunately I'm busy reading the new ICG reports. So far, they're awesome, even if there's stuff I don't agree with.)

  2. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Hi Will

    Great post and suggestions

    You become one of the experts on WS issue. Your blog is become one of WS stars...

    To Alle. I am also with the fanblog but One hump not Two !!!. In WS you can find only one hump camel not two.
    Will is a cosmopolitan so he add Two humps!


  3. First of all, first English-language WS blog would have to go to either Sahara-Watch or Western Sahara Endgame, I think.

    Presumably, a metablog about this metablog would be called something like, "It's one hump, dummy." Like Desertman said, the 2nd hump is just to throw Morocco off.

    I'm going to devour ICG when I get home. I'm going to scoop you like never before, Alle.

  4. The hell you are, I'm almost done with them. Only stopping by here to apologize to Sahara Watch & WS Endgame, and to let you know that AFAPREDESA.org has got a nice new look.

    (By the way, "Two Humps" sounds like a wicked cocktail.)

  5. Ah, so it does. Thanks for the tip. In exchange, check out the new Western Sahara Online.

    Your time zone advantage is unfair, and the way you press it is appalling.

    If the whole Western Sahara thing doesn't work out, I can always keep the blog name and switch to writing about sexcapades (sexploits?).

  6. I think Will's pictures go unappreciated around here. The boy just used a still from "The Way We Were."

  7. Yeah, I was wondering about the Western Sahara connection. But Wikipedia explains that "[t]heir differences are immense: She is a Marxist, with strong anti-war opinions, and he is a laid-back troublemaker."

    Sounds about right.

  8. Kate, I would normally agree with you that the pictures go to waste on the culturally illiterate Scandinavians who make up my core audience. Perhaps they would prefer Asterix cartoons.

    In this case, though, you're wrong. Chasli is an enormous fan. Has been since he thought she was in Dirty Dancing.

    Just kidding Scandinavians, I love you. I also love Asterix.

  9. Hey guys,

    Luv ya all. Lets just keep all the blogs going. The more the merrier. And come independence we can all have a big WS blogger party. How about at my place in New York City.


  10. I would go to a party at Chasli's, if he had ever read the blog post I made for him.

  11. "She is a Marxist, with strong anti-war opinions, and he is a laid-back troublemaker."

    Sounds like Mohammed Abdelaziz and Algerian Abdelaziz, minus the anti-war opinions, of course.

    I agree with Alex that Chasli will not drink Franzia with us until he acknowledges that she dedicated a post to his memory.

  12. Alex and Will,

    I am truly embarrassed. I could have sworn that I had acknowledged Alex's dedication after I read it in May, but just went to her site and I very clearly didn't. Please accept my thanks for your kind dedication a month late, and I beg your forgiveness for my rudeness.

    Best Wishes,


  13. Anonymous4:15 PM

    Hi Will

    All are talking now about the negotiations between Morocco and Polisario in NY
    And we don’t hear from you.
    Any can advise the Saharawi negotiators what they can do to make the deal?


  14. Desertman, you shame me. And deservedly so! I've been a bum lately about the blog, but I'll be back soon.

    As far as the negotiations go, I'm not expecting much. I am impressed with the Ceuta and Melilla approach being bandied about, though.