Monday, November 26, 2007

Help some London design students help Western Sahara

Sandblast in the United Kingdom does great stuff for Sahrawis. Now my Google Alert tells me they've teamed up with some 3D design students at London Metropolitan University. The students are trying to make a project about Western Sahara with Sandblast's help.

They also ask for help and conversation with Sahrawis and other people interested in the project. Since many of my readers know everything about Western Sahara that there is to know, I'm sure some of you could help them out.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Today's the 32nd anniversary of the Green March

Lame. I learned that from a Time article about Spanish-Moroccan tensions, via of commenter and Western Sahara associate Justin Knapp. Harassed Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet is quoted as thinking the Ceuta and Melilla saber-rattling isn't that big of a deal:
Still, Lmrabet is skeptical about the brouhaha. "This isn't about foreign policy — it's for domestic consumption," he says. In his view, the Moroccan government gains something from the ongoing tension with its neighbor across the Mediterranean. In September parliamentary elections, only 37% of eligible voters went to the polls. The low turnout — the worst in the country's history — was widely interpreted as a sign that voters felt irrelevant to the political process. "It's not unusual for Morocco to whip up nationalist sentiment when it wants to create a distraction from the country's real problems, says analyst Amirah-Fern├índez. "But it's not a good sign."

Mrs. Abdelaziz does London

Britishers soon will have more than Sandblast telling them about the Western Sahara's struggle for independence. Khadidja Hamdi, Mohammed Abdelaziz's wife, is going to two high schools in London to talk with students about Western Sahara and its problems.

After she goes back to the camps, I propose having Sidi Omar hit all the other schools. He's proven that he can proselytize for Sahrawis like no one else.

Any mention of Western Sahara's first lady would be remiss if it didn't also say her husband, Mohammed Abdelaziz is still in power 31 years and several tortured Moroccan POWs later. Polisario Congress anyone?

As long as England on the table, Sandblast deserves another plug. Yesterday was the last day of their 2007 Sandblast Festival, and it had a bunch of interesting events, from Sidi Omar talking about self-determination and a tea ceremony to a workshop on making toys from recycled goods with your kids. Sandblast has also done club nights with Sahrawi music this year.

Their work is something to be applauded and admired. Really, the US Western Sahara scene is so weak compared to Spain, Scandinavia, and now the United Kingdom.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Morocco and Spain are no longer amigos over Ceuta and Melilla, genocide

Only a few months ago Spain was staying neutral on the Moroccan autonomy proposal, even though it's the European country with the most responsibility for Western Sahara's predicament. Now Morocco and Spain are fighting over not one but two things. I think this feud spells only good things for Western Sahara.

The first dispute is over the Spanish king and queen's visit to Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish enclaves on the northern coast of Morocco. Morocco's wanted them for some time, as it follows the sensible "fine for me, not for thee" policies in regard to colonies. In a fit over the visit, a clear assertion of Spanish sovereignty, Morocco recalled its ambassador. What is up with ambassadors being used as diplomatic yo-yos when people finally call their governments to task?

The other fight, Western Sahara related and exciting, is Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon's decision to investigate possible crimes, including genocide, committed by Moroccans against Sahrawis after the 1975 invasion.

Garzon's role in pursuing another Auguste Pinochet gives him some international crime-fighting credibility. With luck this'll draw attention to Western Sahara and make the Moroccan government look bad at the same time. Western Sahara Info has more. So does pro-integration Sahrawi Chagaf Aziza, who curiously doesn't seem to connect the investigation with Morocco's abuse of Sahrawis today.

The Maghreb Arab Presse, the Moroccan government's organ, isn't pleased about any of this. The top three stories right now are about Ceuta and Melilla and the Garzon inquest. Neither is Moroccan blog The View from Fez.

Now that Morocco and Spain have fallen out of love with each other, what do you think will happen to the Humvees and riot gear? I hope for the Moroccan army's sake that they got a receipt.