Monday, June 11, 2007

Western Sahara negotiations on June 18, 19 in New York

Morocco and Polisario, along with Algeria and Mauritania, will be meeting in or close to New York on June 18th to discuss a settlement, according to Ban Ki-Moon's spokesperson.

I'm impressed the UN was able to get the sides together so fast, especially since autonomy isn't the only thing they'll be discussing, much to Morocco's disappointment.

Still, I don't think anyone is expecting a settlement to come out of this. Morocco's invested too much time and money into autonomy to give it up for a referendum, and it hasn't taken any hits to its prestige that would force compromise. The continued repression in Western Sahara is getting noticed, but it's nothing that would make Ban Ki-Moon twist Morocco's arm.

The more interesting thing is how the Mauritanian delegation is going to keep itself busy in New York. Do they treat these negotiations like a free vacation? I suppose Mauritania would have something to say if Western Sahara was going to be independent, but that's not going to come out of these discussions. If the Mauritanians get bored, might I recommend Ray's Pizza?


  1. Laroussi1:19 PM

    You do know that Mauritania already has recognized SADR, no? So it is not likely that they will object to an independent Saharawi state.

    As it is, Saharawis travel freely between the camps in Algeria and Mauritania. I the north, the majority of the moors are even Saharawi.

    Relations still remain good between Mauritania and SADR.

    The old Spanish fort in La G├╝era is for example under Mauritanian military guard, awaiting the liberation of Western Sahara.

  2. Oh hey, Mauritania did recognize SADR in 1984. I didn't know that.

    I didn't mean that they'd necessarily be against independence. I just think they'd want to be involved in the post-referendum process as things like Sahrawis leaving Mauritania and border security were being set up.

  3. Laroussi6:36 AM

    Oh hey, I didn't get the subtle irony. At first... ;-)

    But, more seriously. Since such a large part of the Mauritanian population, in the north of the country, is Saharawi - any new hostilities may drag Mauritania into a war as well.

    And I have also met quite a few young Mauritanians who said they would not hesitate a moment to fight with their Saharawi brothers against Morocco.

    On the other hand, there are some in the Mauritanian elite who just want an end to the war and improve their trade with Morocco.

    Among common Mauritanians however Morocco is not too popular.

  4. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Hi Will

    "In a successful negotiation, everyone wins. The objective should be agreement, not victory."

    “ in the Moroccan - Polisario negotiation, only one side can wins. The objective have to be victory not agreement “

    I am afraid that Moroccan negotiators will use TRICKS to let Polisario agree on ANY agreement
    According to Moroccan online newspapers Mr Mansouri a Moroccan high official in charge of WS issue spent the last 2 weeks in USA/NY to prepare the “ technical “ arrangements for these negotiations. he met with ”influent” lobbing there.

    Mekhzen spent a lot of money from the Moroccan taxpayers (some saharawis are among them too ) on the lobbing knowing that if they ( Mekhzen) will ask saharawis in free referendum they will loose the deal.


  5. Anonymous1:32 PM


    That has not been my experience with the Mauritanian people, and the same goes with much of the elite. There is a small elite, who were responsible for the coup in 84 and who are more pro-Algerian. The rest feel more comfortable with Morocco. Also, Morocco is especially popular among Mauritanians of subsaharan origin.


  6. Laroussi4:17 PM

    T: When I speak about Mauritanians I normally refere to the "white" moors since I have unfortunately hardly been down south.

    Being originally the same people as the Saharawis, the white moors in Mauretania are generally more friendly to their "brothers" Western Sahara than to the Moroccans.

    You will find few "white" Mauritanians supporting the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. Deep inside, they all know they might be next.

  7. Anonymous10:42 PM

    You may be right Laroussi. Though that has not been my experience with Mauritanians. However, Historically the "Bidan" were divided in their support of Morocco only after colonial intervention.

    The French during their conquest of Mauritania, which began south and proceeded north, feared the relationship between the "bidan" Zawaya and Morocco. In certain instances, they began to cultivate some religious leaders, giving them bribes and inflating their prestige in order to weaken other pro-Moroccan leaders.

    In 1907, for example, French authorities in Saint-Louis and Dakar promoted Shaikh Sidiyya Baba against Shaikh Ma Al Ainain who favored Morocco. The French and Shaikh Sidiyya mounted an assiduous campaign to discredit him and paint Morocco in negative light, basically telling a story that Morocco was disliked in the region by the Bidan.

    Eventually, The French could not put an end to pro-Moroccan agitations until they finally took control of Morocco itself.