Friday, May 02, 2008

UN's love for realism: the dogs bark, but the caravan continues

Peter van Walsum got what he wanted and the UN's 1 -year renewal of MINURSO insists that the parties be realistic about the prospects for a Sahrawi state. Here's resolution's wording on realism:
2. Endorses the report’s recommendation that realism and a spirit of
compromise by the parties are essential to maintain the momentum of the process of
This saddens me, but not because I think it means the end of Sahrawi nationalist aspirations or even because I think it's that big of a deal (after all, van Walsum's realism just means Morocco won't move unless major powers make it, something that was clear already).

I know that if a majority of Sahrawis want an independent state, it'll happen. The only unknowns are how long until it happens, and how much pain Moroccans, Sahrawis, Algerians, and whoever else gets involved in the conflict will suffer before it happens. I think essentially taking away the diplomatic option from Sahrawis, as more UN policies in this vein will inevitably do, will just increase both the length of time and suffering before a Sahrawi state.

Even if you don't think one word is going to do much about a 32-year conflict, it's hard not to be disgusted how the Western powers (including my own country) can exert so much effort to get one word in the document, but actively block the addition of a human rights component to MINURSO. At least SADR still has some friends on the Security Council like Costa Rica and South Africa. If it could get a few more, the UNSC could stop talking about what's realistic and start talking about what's right.

Photo from Flickr user


  1. Van Walsum's realism is only based on his observation that the Moroccan policy will not be altered by sanctions. The observation is correct, Morocco is not likely to be sanctioned for its violation of international law in the Western Sahara. Moroccan violations will continue. And not only against Saharawi interests. Morocco as a nation suffers from borderline syndrome, and the whole neighbourhood knows about it.
    And why should Morocco care about international law when it is not going to be sanctioned anyway? The lesson for Morocco from professor van Walsum is to forget all about international law. So international relations with the Kingdom of Morocco are based on something else, but who knows what?
    Anyway, Van Walsum knows what he is talking about as an expert on sanctions which he became after his involvement in the sanctions against Iraq. Denis Halliday who worked from 1997 till 1999 for the Food for Oil-programme in Iraq thinks Van Walsum was so much involved he should have been accused for genocide on the Iraqi population together with Bush sr.

  2. Anonymous2:34 AM

    The only realistic option is to adhere to international legality and accept the fact that Western Sahara is a decolonisation issue that needs to be resolved in strict respect to the letter and spirit of the UN resolutions particularly 1514.

    Realists should also be aware that the Saharawi people will never give up its inalienable rights of self-determination and independence.

    History has indicated time and again that brutal force, power and aggression can not succeed (Eritrea, Namibia, Vietnam and Iraq).

    Mauritania and Morocco are well aware of this. No matter how long it will take and no matter what support Morocco may obtain one reality will remain that is the Saharawis are not Moroccans and will never ever anything short of self-determination and the right to choose their own future including to be independent.

    It is really a shame that countries that lecture the world about democracy and respect of human rights want to force the Saharawi people to abandon a democratic referendum and also threaten to use their veto to leave out human rights from the latest UNSC resolution on WS!!!?

  3. It's all pretty glum stuff just because the West can't seem to get with what's inevitably going to be the program. I think the examples of East Timor and Eritrea are great--those countries were whaled on a lot more than WS is, and yet they still got independence. What hope does autonomy have then?

  4. good review:

  5. Anonymous9:00 AM

    The Meaning of "Realism"

    Security Council countries took a turn at word interpretation yesterday, somewhat ambiguously invoking the need for "realism" in negotiations between Western Sahara and Morocco, which has occupied the desert territory since 1975. What this means in reality -- no pun intended -- is that outright independence is likely off the table for Western Sahara. The Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force that has maintained a ceasefire there since 1991, but the Council's president in April, South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, objected to what he perceived as powerful countries' bias toward Morocco in the dispute.

    "This council has made a mistake. They sent a wrong message to Morocco, thinking that they will always support Morocco," Kumalo told reporters after the vote, adding that he nevertheless voted in favor because he still held out hopes for the negotiations.
    In a statement to the council after the vote, he said the reference to realism could set a precedent in other conflicts, such as that between Israelis and Palestinians, that the principle "might is right" would hold sway.

    Kumalo also complained that the resolution drafted by France, Russia, Spain, Britain and the United States omitted any reference to human rights, a sensitive subject for Morocco. He said such an omission was a case of double standards.

    I can't help but notice that Kumalo's examples conspicuously did not include Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe's faltering government has long benefited from South Africa's protection. If it is "realistic" to downplay the prospect of Western Saharan independence, then surely it is equally so to acknowledge the electoral defeat that even Zimbabwe seems ready to admit. For South Africa to continue to shield Mugabe, then, would represent an entirely unambiguous "case of double standards."


  6. Anonymous9:00 AM

    Realism is a new „political ideology “ may for first time applied on WS issue
    For more you can see more:
    Lawrence F. Kaplan ["Springtime for Realism," TNR, June 21, 2004],

  7. Anonymous2:28 PM

    Van Walsum is dead right he says it as he sees it on the ground
    morocco is on it land and it will stay like that for ever the enemy can shout,scream,dance,drum up as much support from the NGO still wont make any difference to the moroccans, i tell you why :cause a moroccan will fight to death for 3 things (his or hers)faith,country and family
    mr van kaas you sounds like you suffering from moroccan syndrome
    as for international law you shouldn't look far and you gonna find your country is engaged in unjust war on sovereign countries (iraq and afghanistan)that's its people been killed ,raped and reaped of its resources now that's what i call violation of international law
    mr will just to let you know the caravan has arrived now who's gonna do the barking you or polisario
    the word (realism) was a massage to polisario it means get real the time is running out

  8. Ah, last anonymous. Don't you know how many times people said things were never going to change, but they did? The Hapsburgs thought they'd have Hungary forever, the Ottomans thought they'd have Syria forever, the Russians thought they'd have Ukraine forever. Now all those countries are independent. Western Sahara's struggle is younger, so it hasn't freed itself yet--that's all.

  9. Just want to add an observation mr. van Walsum did not make: the independent Saharawi republic does exist today. It has a president, a parliament, diplomats, territory and an army and those are all for real.
    Van Walsum's observation was about the whole area of Western Sahara but not about the liberated territory, or should we call it the de-colonized strip; or maybe the autonomous zone?

  10. Anonymous1:50 PM

    ((Van Walsum's observation was about the whole area of Western Sahara but not about the liberated territory, or should we call it the decolonized strip; or maybe the autonomous zone?)) mr van kass
    you can call it what ever you want
    at the end of the day it called morocco from Tangier to al guwira still your comment doesn't make sense concerning our territory or may be you haven't a clue what you talking about
    but i can give you a tool to broaden your knowledge about the area its free its called (google earth) you can even check the shameful camps that ve been run by polisario and it masters
    now you right about one thing , polisario does have a parliament a congress they even have a foreign minister who lives in foreign country so does interior minister who lives in Alger's still a foreign country now that confused me

    ah:will you forgot about costa rica

  11. Hey anonymous! we do agree about the camps because they are shameful indeed. Morocco turned the Saharawi people into refugees so they could grab their land. And that was a very shameful act. These people wait in the desert. What is Morocco going to do? When will Morocco take its responsibility?
    How long will it take Morocco to solve the problems it made?
    Probably too long to wait. For Morocco just does not have the competence, power and intelligence to handle or solve the dillemma's it faces. It is pure incompetence.
    So it is good Saharawi do not wait and develop their country theirself as far as they can and barren as it is. And no sir it's not called the kingdom of Morocco.

    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