Saturday, May 03, 2008

Listen closely boys and girls, 'cause it's time to change the world

I was thinking yesterday that efforts at ruining the reputations of people who perpetuate bad Western Sahara policies have been misdirected. Sure, it's fine (and fun) to make fun of Robert Holley and Edward Gabriel, but they'll always have access to people who won't think to google their names.

The one we should be targeting are the bureaucrats in France, the U.S., and other countries who often end up making decisions on Western Sahara. Even in the run-up to the Moroccan invasion, it was Henry Kissinger, not Gerald Ford, who read the International Court of Justice ruling. Who are the people in my government who decide forcing autonomy on Sahrawis is a good idea? The trick is finding out, then convince them or their bosses otherwise.


  1. Laroussi4:41 PM

    Don't you already have a guy to mess with? Elliott Abrams

  2. Anonymous7:45 PM

    There is a need for a name and shame strategy of the so-called Hawks (Elliot & co) in the US State Department who are pushing the wrong policy on Western Sahara as they did in other situations.

    The hawks' attitude is wrong because it goes against what America should stand for: Freedom, democracy, human rights and the right to self-determination.

    America can not continue to adopt a policy of double standards and bend rules and international law when it suits it because this will be so obvious to people around the world and its credibility will be severly damaged.

    The hawks' policy is wrong because America will create more enemies in Western Sahara and in Algeria too as well as in many other African and Latin American countries. Western Sahara will never be stable and the Maghreb will never see peace and stability if unjust solution is imposed on the Saharawi people. The situation will even be worse than now.

    The hawks' policy is wrong because America will miss an opportunity to have a democratic and secular state in North West Africa. Because the US can’t depend on the friendship of an absolute and hated monarch and his regime in Morocco. The Moroccan people will say one day soon enough is enough. It will be like what happened in Iran. Morocco will have to change because it can’t continue to be ruled in a middle ages way. Then what will America do? What friends will it have in that region?

    Isn't Algeria important with its oil, gas and minerals, its large population and area. Doesn't have a wealth of experience in dealing with international terrorism?

    Wouldn't America want to be on the side of justice, international legality, freedom and people's aspirations for once at least?

  3. Good points, Anonymous. It's depressing that the people in the State Department and other agencies with authority over Western Sahara can't realize that.

    Also, good point to you, Laroussi. But Elliott Abrams is such a loon (and doomed to be cast into the street when a Democrat wins the presidency later this year) that he'd hardly be worth the effort.

  4. This is a good idea Will, I just don't trust politicians nor bureaucrats. Just think that France and USA they possess a half of Moroccan capital. If I think in Spain it's the same (adding in this case the delicate questions of the Spanish settlements in northern Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, and the question of fishing in moroccan and moroccan controlled waters) otherwise how do you explain that our social democrat governments haven't done anything for a problem created by Franco's dictatorship? Unfortunately no one pay attention to international law and human values when money plays a role. Mr. Zapatero cleans his conscience by sending humanitarian aid to Tindouf.

    I feel the hope could arrive with the media, but they need blood and death to feed some interest. Other way I'm thinking on is the big bloggers. Here in Italy I'm trying to involve Beppe Grillo's blog that even though treats on internal politics, he gave visibility to the Tibet question.

    sorry for my english ;-)

  5. it was me posting before, ;-)


  6. Anonymous7:01 PM

    Interesting analysis of the situation in North Africa:

    It is clear that Morocco does not matter very much for the US and any new US Administration is likely to choose Algeria as a future partner.

    All the talk of the US selling off Western Sahara is premature.

  7. Good luck with the other bloggers, Ax. Thanks for commenting--I hope you stick around!

    Yeah Anonymous (Alle in disguise, no doubt), Alle rocked that analysis. I'll write a post on it today. All that and Sahara-Watch is back posting.

  8. Anonymous2:02 PM

    The UN Security Council had finally voted unanimously the 1813 resolution on Western Sahara with an unexpected new ally of Morocco: the Russian Federation.
    The Russian have threatened to seize the Council for a technical vote on the amendment introduced by Costa Rica. This last, sent off for a scout around by Algeria and South Africa, grab the attention of the permanent representatives already favorable to the Moroccan proposal in particular the Spanish ambassador.
    The Russian spin, according to high ranked sources at the United Nations is due to the recurring tensions with Algeria which reached their paroxysm with the cancellation of the fighter’s contract and also the failure to bring closer the Gazprom giant to the Algerian Sonatrach.
    The Algerian representative at the United Nations, Youcef Yousfi used all means and no returned calls to the Russian representative before deciding to give him a “surprise” visit, trying to convince him to support the Costa Rica amendment.
    The permanent representative of South Africa and President of the April session council, Dumisani S. Kumalo has tried to introduce some changes in favor of the Polisario Front on the motion of the Sahara resolution presented by France, the United States and Russia. The attempts of the ebullient diplomat did not succeed, the United States insisting strongly that the concept of “realism”, introduced a week before by the personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Sahara Peter Van Walsum should be included in the resolution.

    On his last day as a president and fearing split within the council, the representative of South Africa choose to show his dissension at the end of the session, just in front of the cameras…
    the end game for polisario

  9. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Polisario will no longer work with Wamlsum because he took sides in the conflict and shown a biased position in favour of Morocco.
    It's good bye or rather good riddance Mr. Walsum. Now you can go and have a nice retirement in Morocco or southern France. But you have to live with your bad conscience and history will judge you as the worst UN representative who instead of defending international legality and the UN charter you opted to side with the aggressors and introduced a term "Realism" if applied it will mean the end of the UN system. What an idiot!

  10. Do we all agree that polito-diplomat advises are conditioned by corporations' interests?
    (now we learn that putinmafia is also involved, bleah! just Berlusconi's missing the meeting)

    Do we all agree that this system will never give a solution to this massacred population?

    Do we need another prove that self-determination is the only reason Sahrawi people is fighting for?

    THEIR future is in OUR hands, they are richer but we are lots more!

    Civil society's got the power!


  11. Anonymous5:50 PM

    WASHINGTON, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week, a group of former Sahrawi refugees held by the Polisario Front in southern Algeria -- some for their entire lives -- have come to the United States to meet with U.S. government officials, media, and human rights organizations. Their mission is to speak out on behalf of their own families and the tens of thousands of other refugees still being held in the tightly-controlled Polisario camps.
    Among the group of former refugees are: Naba Deddah El Meki (a former Polisario humanitarian aid coordinator who witnessed systematic corruption and theft), Naha Al Salek Sidi (a handicapped mother of two, who was used by the Polisario to solicit medical supplies from international NGOs -- supplies which were subsequently sold), Salma Essalek and Said Abderahman (a pregnant woman and her husband who made their nighttime escape through a minefield, chased by Polisario soldiers), Al Afia Hammidi (a mother of five who, with the assistance of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), last week won the battle to force the Polisario to return her two youngest children) and Brahim Al Selem (a former Polisario police officer who was imprisoned for speaking out against the Polisario, and who has first-hand knowledge of secret prisons for unwed mothers, and the extensive smuggling and contraband network operating in the region).
    Their testimonies are hardly unique; they represent hundreds of similar accounts witnessed by international organizations, such as the UNHCR and the World Food Program. Too often, the Polisario Front has used the Western Sahara political impasse to distract attention away from this on-going humanitarian crisis. In fact, just two weeks ago, the UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum acknowledged that there is also a "moral dilemma" to the situation and lamented that the intolerable status quo is "too readily accepted [. . .] by deeply involved supporters of the Frente Polisario, who do not live in the camps themselves [. . .]."
    "It is vital for the international community to be aware of these inhumane conditions and denial of refugee rights under international law, including the most basic freedom to leave the Polisario controlled refugee camps,The overall situation in the Western Sahara is not merely a political conflict, but an unconscionable humanitarian crisis that must be addressed

  12. Nah, anonymous, it's far from Polisario's endgame. Even if it is, Polisario's endgame doesn't equal the Sahrawi self-determination endgame.

    I hope things turn out as you predict, Ax. I certainly think civil society remains on the Sahrawi side, despite Moroccan efforts to win everyone from small time journalists to pastors in Texas to their side.

    Last anonymous, thanks for the heads-up on the PR Newswire piece. I guess they're in town now--I'll see if I can go to any of their events before I go back to Texas.

  13. Anonymous8:03 PM

    The news item about the so-called former refugees visit to Washington is distributed by PR news which will distribute anything if you pay for it. This is just Moroccan PR and lobbying efforts.
    It's a shame that the Saharawis and Polisario don't have enough funds to do the same.

  14. Yeah, PR Newswire is just a broadcast service that doesn't concern itself with the veracity of what it broadcasts. That's fine, but it's too bad when it's used for Moroccan propaganda (like this and the Together Foundation press release).

  15. Anonymous11:58 PM

    breaking news
    bad news for polisario several african country that support polisario are rethinking their position
    some of them want to froze there recognition and some want to withdraw it for good
    ax: i did read nearly the same analyst more or less 4 years ago when south africa recognized polisario from a member who belong to a communist party that once sa fulfill it pledge to polisario morocco will be under immense pressure , guess where we are now ;no pressure at all
    self-determination will never happen even the polisario knows it

  16. An anonymous wrote: "guess where we are now ;no pressure at all" Indeed there is no pressure by the USA, France and the Netherlands - which country took the opportunity to sell Morocco war-ships for about 800.000.000 euro. (For nothing serious: Morocco needs these toys only to guard the EU against refugees.)
    So anonymous; if all is relaxed for Morocco without pressure at all Morocco can move fast to try to solve the problems they're accountable for. Hope they start with the problem of the disappeared Saharawi. But I'm afraid things are not as simple as anonymous suggests.

  17. Anonymous11:54 AM

    it start from Spain
    where are USA Oscar winners ???


    Bardem pitches for Saharan refugees
    Oscar winner stars in 45-second webisode
    MADRID -- Javier Bardem is cashing in on his Oscar for "No Country for Old Men" but not with the usual career moves.
    He is appearing in a Spanish-language, 45-second webisode due up Wednesday on YouTube, drawing attention to 200,000 Saharan refugees who have lived in desert camps in Algeria for 33 years.

    "Spot" ("Commercial" in Spanish) was shot April 19, during the fourth Sahara Intl. Film Festival, at such a camp.

    In voiceover, Bardem describes the Saharan refugees' conditions.

    Pic cuts to Bardem with desert wind whistling in the background, reads out a manifesto asking the Spanish government to recognize the diplomatic status of the Western Sahara's Polisario Front.

    Bardem -- along with his actor brother Carlos, "Spot" producer Alvaro Longoria and its directors Fernando Colomo and Javier Corcuera -- haslaunched an online petition on

    The filmmakers are aware that they face an uphill battle.

    The Western Sahara is part of Morocco, which is offering the Western Saharans a referendum on autonomy. The Polisario Front wants a referendum about both autonomy and independence.

    "The Spanish government has too many commercial interests in Morocco to really apply pressure. Sahara's just not on its agenda," said Spanish director Iciar Bollain.

    And the Western Sahara phosphate deposits mean Morocco won't give it up lightly.

    But Bardem and friends hope that Spanish youth, whose vote helped re-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in March, will sign the petition and make Zapatero react.

  18. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Sahrawis don’t have funds to hire the top lobbyists like Moroccans did with Eldman and Associates!

    Can any of Dear bloggers find emails / contacts for the top journalists and influential people in US...

    indigenous children from WS want to send them special letter
    Let do it plz

  19. Hi again!

    anonimous thinking like me 4 years before: It's a pity to loose ideals when getting older... What do you do in a blog like this?

    anonimous dealing with BARDEM involvement: you've just stolen me the idea of promoting petition!! Even though you made a fundamental mistake on the positions of Polisario (supported legally) and the proposal of Morocco (impossible to give autonomy to a territory was never yours). "Spot" in spanish it's said "anuncio"; "comercial" is just the Latin American way of saying. Iciar Bollain's comment on the Spanish position is not complete, there are many other reasons that politicians hide. The Spanish civil society has always shown solidarity with saharawi people and support actively their fight for INDEPENDENCE(saharawi do not want to be linked in any way to "mohammed capullo el sahara no es tuyo!)

    AX 19:29h.

  20. I need to make a post about Javier Bardem's great work (and I'm not talking about No Country for Old Men). Thanks for reminding me, guys.

    Anonymous asking about Edelman, here's my question: I know Polisario is cash-strapped, but with its hydrocarbons Algeria has enough to buy lobbyists.

  21. Anonymous5:05 PM

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    Just after start up, an enormous Illyushin XX passed over the field. This monster must have at least 40 tires on it. This guy landed and was reminded three times by the controller that he should proceed with low power because of jet blast. He obviously had a reputation here at the airport. Soon after we were airborne, our plane started to shudder. Seems the turbulence was caused by the Illyushin. This was my first experience of feeling how a machine of that dimension can change the wind for minutes after it has passed.

    As we crossed into Western Sahara, now officially claimed as part of Morocco, we hit our first great wall. During the war between Morocco and Algeria for what was Spanish Sahara until the Spaniards gave it up in around 1975, the Moroccans had one of those crazy ideas. They would build dirt fortifications around the whole of the Spanish Sahara.

    Flying over the first wall, I couldn't even imagine how a country the size of Morocco could accomplish such a feat. The wall was probably three meters (ten feet) high and several meters wide build from dirt pushed up into a linear mound as far as the eye could see. Along it maybe every one or two kilometers there is a fortified military encampment that covered several hectares with buildings and what looked like considerable infrastructure. The ones we passed over right on the border looked to be still manned. We didn't fly close enough to find out. I could easily imagine these guys shooting a rocket at us.

    Over the next few hours we passed at least five more layers of walls, less and less maintained but nonetheless they were built. This may have been one of the greatest civil engineering task of its time, as military operations often are. I'd like to look into the financing of these walls.

    The other thing that is truly shocking in this desert is the concentration of 4x4 tracks everywhere. I would think that there are only a few kilometer stretches between Nouakchott and Laayoune, in northern Western Sahara, that did not have tracks. In many places they were so dense that it looked like years of the Paris-Dakar Rally had sped by here with thousands of support vehicles. There was a total lack of wildlife. We traversed Dakhla National Park, and it seemed that the 4x4 tracks hardly diminished. There was no sign of wildlife except some very old terraces on some of the hills in this forgotten park.

    As we approached Laayoune, I sensed something was very different. This was a Saharan town, no doubt, but the buildings were all painted the same color, a mix of tan with a hint of pink and white. It looked very clean and developed. We landed and were greeted by various branches of the government. We met some real policemen in well-adorned blue suits with white rope bandoleers and crisp, blue folding caps. All were Arabs and all greeted us very warmly with firm handshakes and genuine smiles. It was as if they were truly happy that we had come to visit their fine place.

    We talked about where we had come from. I asked about the four Antonov 24s and 26s on the ground there. They were painted bright white and had the big black U.N. painted on the tail. The cop said they were involved in the Western Sahara conflict.

    This is a developed country, a place where people expect water, electricity, roads, and communications. They expect abundant food and, from the number of cafés, it looked like they had plenty of leisure time. Nearly all the faces were Arab. The women had head coverings but not overdone, and most men wore Western clothing underneath a burnoose, as it was a little chilly here now.

    In the evening I happened upon the souk. The streets were packed with people selling everything from live chickens to television sets. The lights were bright and people were there by the thousands just wandering around buying a little here and there. There were butcher shops, boulangerie, fruit stands, date stands, olive stands, vegetable stands, fresh chickens, live chickens, carts of oranges and tangerines. This was the North Africa that I had lived in decades ago, still vibrant.

    I went to a street stand where they sell kebabs of beef liver, fat, and onion served in a beautiful Arab hobsa, flatbread. They asked me where I was from. I said loud and clear America, and they didn't seem at all fazed. I could have said Germany, Spain, or any other nationality, and they would have reacted the same. I ate my sandwich that cost me six dirhams, around 75 cents. It was delicious. I went on my merry way, walking the streets of this souk for hours. I thought to myself about the GIs in Iraq and what a weird thing that is. These are basically the same people, living lives that follow their personal aspirations. There was no strife or negativity on the streets. I only hope that Iraq finds democracy quickly and we can get to a peaceful relationship with Arabs because they are among the most generous, gracious people on the planet.

    North Africa is a different world from the one we left this morning. I'm sad this trip is over. I'm glad I am still alive.
    will you should make a film about ((no country for old polisario men)) just kidding

    i can see that algerians and thier backed torrorist group polisario, likes alying with words, the first thing, western sahara is moroccan,lear more about histrical facts before believing lies. second morocco fight and with fight forever terrorists, is for that algerians and thier allies polisario, says that the god of moroccans is bush,Morocco protect the europe back door from terror, whey because morocco,was there alays to help,60000 soldiers to fight against hitler, morocco is the only country who accepted to help jew in 1300, spanish expultion, so don't talk about something you don't know next time, believe the hstorical right of morocco to recover his territory

  23. So first I was tired of your copy-pasted comments, but then I realized you have a blog of your own that allows comments? Awesome, and a first for pro-occupation blogs. Stick around!

  24. the UN is giving Morocco his historical right to recover his soveranity, and the right to exist, you should know that morocco have no reason to exist if we don't recover totally our territory, you should know if there's a war about the moroccan desert, blieve me this region of the world will see the wort war ever, you know that all the region is threated by the terrorist.
    Morocco lost a big part of his territory 'Mauritania' Morocco will never let that happend again, and the prosperity of Europe depends, in Moroccan strenght to stoping terror coming from algeria, so before discussing somthing is not true at all,you should know the real algerian plans and spaniard,they are afraid that morocco recover his regional power, why polisario don't let humanitarian groups to check phisically the situation in tindouf'south algeria' because silmply they will know the truth, there's less than 60000 people living in the camps, anther thing, the moroccan sahara or the western sahara, have thier own representatives, the those real representative represent the majority of saharian people, 120000, so we have to use the logic,Algeria is afraid that this problm get solved, simplly because he next step from morocco, will be to as algeria to sign with him the northern borders, because there's no recognized border between morocco and Algeria in the north, regarding the spanish they knows that once Morocco recover his rights in the desert, he will concentrate in the ocuped cities in the north of morocco,hope now you understand, who created this fake organisation called polisario, it was considered in the 70ties as a terrorist organisation.

  25. Blogger REAL-SAHARA-WATCH had an article about the history of Morocco and I added a comment to it, giving compliments and making a remark about people from European descent who decided to declare Salé (now Rabat) an independent republic governed by an elected president but the article and the comment are gone now.
    Why did you do that mr. Real?

  26. Anonymous12:37 AM

    (van kass )is this where you get your information from (weakipidia)haven't you read what was witeen above the subject you highlight ((sale an independent)) check it

    This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2007)
    Please *help *improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed.
    This article may require* cleanup* to meet Wikipedia's quality standards.
    try again?????????????????????

  27. Anonymous9:03 AM

    hey Anonymous above
    if you think you must dispute the article at wikipedia you can do so. (in a correct manner ofcourse)
    If you do not dispute it that's fine too.

  28. Anonymous9:29 PM

    Morocco gets support from other, surprising, places. I live in New Zealand where we are happily underwriting a lot of Moroccan activity. We import phosphate from "Morocco". Last year $167million of which 90%, I asked the Ministry concerned, comes from Bou Craa. (Over thirty uears that really adds up!) NZ being a liberal sort of place I imagined that it would be fairly easy to get some momentum on our phosphate "theft". WRONG!! Letters and visits to senior politicians, questions in Parliament, letters and calls to various media all resulted in NO ACTION.

  29. you now why NZ did no action regarding this, because they have a clearer view, they know that Algeria is behind all of these! simplly, you think that NZ with some hundreds of millions of Nz curency 'what ever it is' (not important anyway) in the whole business world!
    my friend you should come to morocco, i welkom you like a relative, y'll see by your self the situation, or come just like a simple tourist and go from the north to the south, and check your self the situation, try to do so in Algeria? or worst, engage in humanitarian groups to help the camps, it will be a nightmare, my swedish girls friend went there, and she told me stuffs incredibly shoking,please don't replay of read any thing from others.
    just experience and tell me!

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