Friday, January 25, 2008

Inky Fingers: Algeria's government and a free press

The Algerian government might not be so different from Morocco's, after all--at least in the area of press freedom. While the Moroccan government was busy trying to assassinate Ali Lmrabet, the Algerian government got control of all the country's ink, as well as its papers and main printing presses.

I knew the Algerian government didn't exactly support a free press, but that's ridiculous. Like everyone else I appreciate Algeria's support for Western Sahara, but there's no excuse for that gross a violation of freedom of the press.

Speaking of Algeria, has anyone seen or read Bab el-Oued? I'm reading it for my Middle East class and so far it's terribly written, at least in translation.

Flickr photo from Filtran.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More information on Moroccan puppet sites

Earlier, I wrote a post about Polisario Confidential, a site with anti-Polisario, pro-Morocco articles backed up by a Google Adwords campaign. Commenters pointed out that several other sites similar to Polisario Confidential exist, some in French. All of the sites, and Sahel Intelligence, are registered at the same server. You may remember Sahel Intelligence as the site that liked Western Sahara Info so much, it decided to steal its articles.

One crafty, presumably multilingual commenter found this article (French, translated version here) that seems to be about the sites. I got my degree in French from Babelfish U, so correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems to be a site for press releases, like the PR Newswire service that distributed the Together Foundation's press release about Tindouf slavery. Selected excerpts:

Western Sahara: how Moroccans have won the battle of net

Backed by an advertising campaign Google Adwords mass, and having entrusted, according to our sources, the editorial and graphic design sites to a famous American communications agency based in Washington, Morocco innovated both in the tone used in mechanisms to relay its action.
Emphasis mine. It's obviously silliness to say Morocco "won the battle of the net"--where are the awesome Sahara-is-Moroccan blogs, and why does the Sahrawi Western Sahara Online beat the copycat Western Sahara Online in Google searches? Anyway, my bet's on Edelman for the famous American communications agency.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A little bit of Zartman

I had a run-in with I. William Zartman, Chasli's bete noire, in an unexpected place last month. I was listening to an former U.S. diplomat involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process discuss the negotiations. He cited Zartman's concept that a conflict needs to have certain qualities to be "ripe" for resolution through negotiation. So, I. William Zartman: not just a Moroccan hack.

Speaking of ripeness, I guess the Western Sahara isn't yet.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dakar Rally cancelled

The Dakar Rally, a car race that goes from Portugal to Senegal, passing through Western Sahara, has been canceled because of threats made by part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Just another case of religious fundamentalists ruining someone's fun.

The Dakar Rally got into trouble in the past when it scheduled a route through Western Sahara but didn't ask Polisario's permission.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Book on non-violent resistance has tactics for Sahrawis

Non-violence is trendy in Western Saharan resistance. In the spirit of keeping things both effective and pacifist, Sahrawis and their allies should check out this extensive e-book about non-violent resistance. Produced by the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, the book discusses tactics used across the world, using protests against Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia as a model. If their ideas helped stopped Milosevic, I'm sure they can be employed effectively in El Aiun.

Weirdly, I wasn't able to find it in any other languages. If translations aren't available yet, I'm sure they will be soon--for Western Saharan purposes I'd like to see one in Spanish and Arabic.

Via the HAMSA Crime Report, which also tipped me off about Algeria's machinations.

Polisario Confidential tries to tie the Front with communism

Today I had a Google Ad in my Gmail called "Polisario Confidential". The site it linked to has 8 posts spreading rumors about Abdelaziz and Polisario. I'll investigate more later, but it's weird. If you have any idea who Khalid Ibrahim Khalid, the site's author, is, do tell.

To start with, here is the information on who owns the domain. It is registered through a proxy domain service and seems to run off a Dallas server.