Friday, December 14, 2007

Polisario Kongress Kraziness

It's Polisario Congress time again, and that means another anointing of President Mohammed Abdelaziz. Maybe next Congress there'll be some competition, but until then, let's get our degrees in the Sahrawi version of Kremlinology (Tifaritology?).

The Polisario National Secretariat opened the Congress with a report on the condition of Western Sahara. Judging from the picture, Abdelaziz himself delivered this enormous speech to a captive audience. The perks of being a 30-year president.

Anyway, the big man did give a shout-out to those of us who weren't born in Western Sahara but started working on it as fast as we could:
On such a great occasion, we would like to express our most sincere thanks and profound gratitude to all our friends and allies around the world including governments, political parties, civil society organizations and members of the international network of solidarity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia and the United States for their standing by the just casue of our people in the most difficult of times, and for their attachment to their noble positions.


  1. Anonymous1:49 PM

    UN Personnel Vandalise Archaeological Sites
    In 1991, the United Nations sent a force to Western Sahara to monitor the ceasefire between the occupying Moroccan forces and the Polisario independence movement. The Force, known by its French acronym MINURSO, was also tasked with facilitating a referendum on self-determination within the territory - in fact this was its principal purpose. Some 16 years on, the referendum has failed to materialise, and MINURSO is widely viewed by the indigenous Sahrawi, and by some commentators, as leaning towards Morocco. On a positive note, the ceasefire has been maintained without any serious violations, and MINURSO recently has been arranging family visits for Sahrawi separated from their relatives by the effective partition of Western Sahara.

    So, MINURSO has overseen a period of relative peace and stability (or helped to maintain the status quo as Morocco consolidates its occupation, depending on your opinion), and has (belatedly) helped Sahrawi exiles in the refugee camps in Algeria maintain contact with family members on the other side of the Moroccan Berm that cuts divides the territory into two zones. However, it has singularly failed in its main task, which is to organise a referendum on self-determination. Perhaps MINURSO cannot be blamed entirely for the continuing stalemate, given the wrangling over voter eligibility and lack of will of the international community to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara in an equitable fashion, if at all. What is clear is that MINURSO is increasingly irrelevant when it comes to determining the future of Western Sahara. It is the view of at least some Sahrawi that MINURSO no longer has any business being in Western Sahara at all.

    A recent visit (Nov-Dec 2007) to Western Sahara by this blogger revealed a more unsavoury legacy of MINURSO’s presence in Western Sahara - the deliberate vandalism of archaeological sites. The most dramatic example of this is at Lajuad in the Southern Sector of the Polisario-controlled zone, where MINURSO recently installed some communications hardware on the inaccessible (except by helicopter) summit of a smooth granite hill. It appears that the MINURSO personnel responsible for the installation amused themselves by spray-painting their names on the wall of a rockshelter that is also an important archaeological site (see photos). Although the paintings and engravings in this shelter are somewhat faint, it is difficult not to notice that the wall defaced by the MINURSO personnel houses ancient paintings and engravings, as does the floor of the shelter. Note the engraved and painted wavy lines in the second photograph below, under graffiti from what appear to be Egyptian and Russion MINURSO personnel (see this Flickr album for more photos of the defacement of the Lajuad rockshelter). Perhaps the visiting UN staff were encouraged by the apparently earlier Arabic graffiti - they have certainly left a much greater impression at this site.

  2. Terrible news, but thanks for the tip. Blog post coming up on it soon. Makes me wonder--would the Sahrawi cause be better off without MINURSO?

  3. Anonymous12:58 AM

    You guys are leftists buffons in search of a cause- Arab- Muslims- Sahraouis are Moroccans- Polisario rebels are misguided but will come home. Even Tindouf was part of Morocco before the colonial French took it and Algerians ineherited it- Now go support Batasuna... or free Palestine from the zionistes and leave the Sahara to the Sahraouis... Moroccans. Se abla espanol... todos Moros- Viva Marueccos Independiente

  4. I'll leave Western Sahara to the Sahrawis if Morocco will too. Apologies for the buffonery.