Wednesday, June 25, 2008

George W. Bush likes autonomy--so what?

So a lot of Moroccans (including commenters) are happy that President Bush sent Mohammed VI a letter saying he's pretty fond of autonomy. I don't want to rain on Morocco's parade, but the letter is irrelevant. Here's why:
  • The letter isn't a reversal of US policy. If the leader of a major Polisario backer like South Africa had sent the king a letter supporting autonomy I could understand the excitement, but the US is already a big fan of autonomy. This just makes it official that the big guy likes it.
  • Bush is leaving office in January, has to work with a hostile Congress until then, and is the most disliked president in US history. If anything, Morocco should want Bush to oppose autonomy.
  • White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, the woman who announced the letter, doesn't know about the Cuban missile crisis.
If that's what Morocco counts as a victory for its occupation, they can have it.


  1. so what?

    Will that's perfect!

    There are very few ppl supporting him!

    It's a gift to Sahrawi!

    By the way... would you initiate a class action against him or sthg?


    AX 21:08h.

  2. Who's sthg? I don't know about class action, but I'd sure like to see some more Bush administration people prosecuted.

  3. Off topic - more relevant to Will's last post about Moroccan spooks, but the comments column here is cleaner, in more ways than one. Anyway I just wanted to express my envy - I want some Moroccan secret service folk to comment on MY blog! Come on guys, don't be shy. Why give Will all the attention. I'm very jealous ;-)

    Also some shameless self-promotion - I've just written a new entry about last night's book launch.

  4. will the green march = 6 november
    the madrid agreement = 14 novembe

    the sahara is moroccan = forever

    love you :))

  5. Hm, I don't know if my commenters are secret service. Everyone should go check out Nick's blog, though, for a great post.

    Nick, I enjoyed finding out (like you did yesterday) that the Moroccan government reads my blog. Mine about a year and a half ago in a meeting with the Moroccan ambassador.

  6. sthg=something

    Saad we all know history, what about those dates?

    ICJ declared on 16 October, so everything after this date is unethical and illegal (both Kissinger Moroccan black march and Madrid agreements).

    AX 22:24h.

  7. RE Bush - It sometimes seems that his brain grants his mouth a degree of limited autonomy to do its own thing.

  8. Ah, was writing while you were, Saad. I know the Madrid Accord happened after the march, but before the march Spain was already going to hand over Polisario.

  9. but she understood that morocco is more legitimate to represent sahraouis than polisario.

    or do you think spain was afraid of morocco??? :))

  10. polisario is just algerian puppet the sahraoui feeling for independance was made by algerian propaganda look the daily news of algerian newspaper :

    "Le Polisario accuse le Maroc de bloquer le dialogue - Il y a 12 heures
    Le Front Polisario a déploré l’arrêt des négociations avec le Maroc sous l’égide des Nations unies pour le règlement définitif de la question sahraouie. ...
    Risque d’explosion au Sahara occidental - Front Polisario : L’ONU ... El Moudjahid
    «Wan Wlaslum s’est disqualifié en tant que médiateur onusien» Nouvelle République"

    and it's the same thing everyday

  11. "and it's the same thing everyday"

    ...remind you of anything?

  12. Hey Nick,
    I think that's a very well written piece on your blog, thank you. Hope you get a lot of Moroccan commenters.

    Hey Saad, how about autonomy for Morocco within the French republic?

  13. moroccans with their iternal m6 are so happy in it's makhzan's media 2M and 1ST and the MAP they translate their satisfaction with the letter that BUSH addressed to their m6.

    so what?

  14. Anonymous12:42 AM

    Polisario has a secret detention for women, US magazine
    Washington, - Polisario has a secret detention center for women, "a hole between two hills" that confines some 30 women, reported the US online magazine

    In an article, posted on Wednesday on the visit paid early May to the USA by a delegation of Sahrawis who fled Tindouf camps, southwestern Algeria, to join Morocco, the magazine noted that "some of the [detained] women were rape victims who continued to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of their guards."

    Citing a member of this delegation, Mr. Brahim El Salem, a former POlisario police officer, the online magazine said that "you cannot see the jail because it is a hole between two hills."

    “The structure's zinc roof provides minimal protection from the Saharan desert heat,” said this officer, who visited this secret center three or four times.

    “magazine” added that the delegation's main goal was to urge a U.N. census of the camp population and repatriation protocol for anyone who wants to leave a Polisario-controlled camp to return to Morocco.

    polisario are saint of this planet they only half starve the sahraouis so they won't be able to shout louder .

  15. Spain agreed with morocco (on 14 nov 75) because morocco was invading WS, not because morocco was legitimate to agree on WS future, Spanish gov. is a traitor!

    Saad, you moroccans have much history to learn... it's incredible moroccan settlers know nothing about...

    Bush has just two brains:

    one for breathing, the other one for not to shit on public events.


    AX 8:01h.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Vaan Kaas morocco having autonomy under the french?

    quit difficult, because there is different religion, language, culture , there is no border between us, there is no historical links between us like allegiance....and morocco is 35 millions people...
    you know that the period where the kingdom of morocco was the biggest was when morocco were ruled by some sahraoui tribe that established in marrakech...the sahara is moroccan can be corrected by morocco is sahraoui...
    well and about your frech autonomy idea if there is a referendum people will vote for autonomy, because here in morocco becomming french or europeen is a dream for everyone, a way to have a better life...
    stop your romantic ideas about autodetermination...sahraoui have more right than moroccan in morocco , if some wish for independance it's because they think they can have more, morocco will prove that it's not true ...

  18. another thing i talked about algeria, do you think a corrupted nation like algeria, that doesn't mind killing hundrd of thousand of it citizen is helping sahraoui because it's fair ??
    are you insane???
    if morocco retirs, w.s will be algerian, a country of 200 thousands people big as half spain is a romantic idea...
    don't be naive and see the things as they are, sahraoui are lucky to be moroccan they will find it soon or later, i promise

  19. hey Saad,

    The idea of Morocco as autonomous region of France came to my mind because Morocco has been a French protectorate.
    But I think you're right about the outcome of a referendum on this issue, Moroccans will vote for anything to become part of Europe. And I will welcome Morocco to Europe if this is asked, but not now. To my mind Morocco has to meet some criteria before it can join the club. Like respect for international law. And that means: leave Western Sahara and make peace in a gentle way.
    Losing western Sahara will win a lot:
    * a chance to become part of Europe
    * a opportunity for a Maghreb Union
    * have a neighbour in the south with a lot of potential,
    * and a big friendly neighbour in the east.
    Why wait any longer?

  20. Van kaas you are too naive.
    do you think algeria is doing all that just to give sahraoui the right to rule themself?
    that right is denied from it own citizen since 1961, you really need to learn more about algeria's mafia that hold the power...
    if morocco leaves the sahara, it will be ruled indirectly by algeria a flag and a song is a way to make people sleep...the important thing is to have a better life and live in a democracy, we are all citizen of the world and we hope for better life.
    and you know what algeria will find another problem, because algeria has a problem with morocco, did you know that we were in war before the w.s problem? did you know that algeria deported after the green march thousands of moroccan civilians at the border in a cruel maner?
    it's a problem of leadership and ideologia...

    you are speaking of international law, let me just tell you that the un is nearer to the moroccan position and the big democracies too.
    and you know what? sahara know has become more moroccan than sahraoui, leaving sahara is like asking all the jews to leave israel and return to europe, it's just no realistic

  21. Just jumping in to say that the deportation of Moroccan nationals living in Algeria was despicable. When I read that for the first time I was very disappointed in Algeria (not that I'm not a lot of the time).

  22. Hey Saad,
    I know that there was a war before the w.s problem: it' s called the Sand War and Morocco started it.
    Algeria may not be a very nice country to live in, but Algeria did not attack Morocco or Western Sahara. Morocco does not need a military presence in Western Sahara just to keep Algeria out. I'm sure Saharawi's will manage to keep Algerian military out of their country and rule themselves after independence.

    About international law: Morocco is absolutely not nearer to UN then RASD is. On the contrary! It's logic: RASD has a strong legal position and Morocco has a strong military position. That's why we see a stalemate.

  23. about sand war there are differents version. i have a french documentary that says that the first blast of fire was algerian, but what is sure is that there is a part of algeria now that was moroccan until 1934, but were annexed by france to be algerian.
    When we got independance Mohammed V did not want to negociate with france about this until algeria was "free. Ben bella the true liberator of algeria gave a promise to Mohammed V to discuss the border probleme but he was thrown from power and the same mafia that hates morocco is now took the power from algerian and is still ruling te country.
    you know there are some moroccan farmer that lives in figuig and have their land in algeria, it's really sad to see (i have some videos)

    another thing there is something that really piss me off you said :
    "RASD has a strong legal position"
    tell me just what is rasd? did the sahraoui already vote? do you decide for them? that what you call democracy? that what you call autodetermination?
    we have no idea what will happen all the outcomes are possible that what we call democracy.
    let the sahraoui chose when you say rasd you decide for them it's a shame!! there is no rasd.

  24. Saad said: "all the outcomes are possible that what we call democracy.
    let the sahraoui chose..."

    Well, all positions apart from full independence under Morocco's autonomy plan, which we're all meant to think is brave and realistic. In effect it is at best a means of endorsing the occupation, at worst a means of pulling the wool over the eyes of the international community about the conflict.

    Said said: "when you say rasd you decide for them it's a shame!! there is no rasd"

    Well, all the Sahrawi I've met believe in the RASD. They are more supportive of the RASD with the Polisario as its government (democratic issues nothwithstanding) than they are about being a Moroccan province. Everyone apart from Morocco and its supporters wants the Sahrawi to be able to vote - with a choice of independence, autonomy within Morocco, or complete integration into Morocco. So we're in agreement there Saad. But Rabat will not allow such a referendum. Why? Because it knows that it would lose, and the result would be the establishment of the RASD in all of Western Sahara. Saad, you should work hard to persuade your government to agree to the long-promised referendum if you mean what you say.

    As for recognition, a good number of countries (mostly in Africa) recognise the RASD. The RASD as recognised has diplomatic representatives with ambassadorial status in these countries.

    The camps around Tindouf run as a state in exile, so the political and institutional infrastructure of the RASD is already there.

    I'm afraid that, for all that it might be a somewhat nebulous concept, in terms of international recognition the RASD is more "real" than the "southern provinces".

    And the Polisario already runs about 25-30 per cent of Western Sahara as a rump Sahrawi state. I know because I travel in these areas every year. All this "buffer zone" nonsense is just that - nonsense.

    Sorry mate, but while the RASD may not quite be a full country in all practical senses, it does exist, and has more formal international recognition that the position of the Moroccan government on this issue.

  25. hey Saad,

    Ok maybe it was not Morocco that fired the first shots in the Sands war. I'm not going to defend Algeria here. Are these video's about the moroccan farmer that lives in Figuig and have their land in Algeria online at Youtube?

    And RASD is your neighbour mate! You should get to know them! They really serve good tea.

  26. nick you are talking about the part of w.s behind the wall, well there is no city there and the sahraoui live in Tindouf, so the sadr is located in algeria and moroccan sahara is nearer to the reality.
    the countries that support rasd have communist/anti-occidental background or have a problem with morocco.
    you know that there is no arabic country that support rasd? quit a shame for the S.Arabic.D.R
    well about the vote i know that the sahraoui that live in tindouf are for the sadr, but don't forget that most of sahraoui live in morocco and i can tell you that there are a lot (maybe not the majority) that like to be moroccan. another thing there is a lot of moroccan from the north that live in sahara for decades. they also must vote...
    so the result is not easy to forecast...
    morocco won't let the referendum be because he doesn't want to take the risk of losing a part of morocco. a part that cost us a lot of blood and money, a part that now is prosperous and more moroccan than sahraoui. Tel aviv is not palestinien it's israelien so is w.s moroccan for now and ever

  27. Laroussi5:53 PM

    "you know that there is no arabic country that support rasd? quit a shame for the S.Arabic.D.R"

    Really, Saad? I always thought that both Mauritania and Algeria were Arabic countries. ;)

    They are at least both members of the League of Arab States. And, you know what, both countries have recognized the Saharawi republic RASD.

    In any case, as you well know and as Nick indicated, no country in the world has recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. And that includes all the member states of the Arab League.

    Quite a shame for Morocco, don't you think? ;)

    Nick seems to think that you are support a free referendum about the future of Western Sahara, Saad. If that is so I have missed that comment, but I would be very happy if you also would work for this to happen. It would surely bring prosperity to all the people in the Maghreb, and not just to those who are currently exploiting the occupation of Western Sahara.

    As for the outcome of a free referendum, some Saharawis will of course vote in favour of autonomy and Moroccan annexation of the territory. But, they are in a very small minority besides those who have sold themselves to MVI.

    You may have heard Saharawis tell you that they favour Morocco and not an independent Saharawi state, but that is mainly sweet talk since anything else is banned in the occupied territories and could lead to jail or other less pleasant consequences.

  28. Saad: "so the result is not easy to forecast...
    morocco won't let the referendum be because he doesn't want to take the risk of losing a part of morocco."

    I don't disagree with this at all. But if you want democracy you've got to run the risk.

    I never can get a decent answer on the figures for the numbers of Moroccan settlers in WS (often confused with the numbers on the green march it seems), but it's my understanding that they outnumber the Sahrawi. However, the figures that get bandied about for the number of Sahrawi living under Moroccan occupation and in exile are around 90,000 and 160,000 respectively. So most Sahrawi would seem to live in the camps. I know Rabat likes to pretend the population of the camps is much smaller, but I'll go with the estimates from other sources.

    What is interesting is that Rabat doesn't seem to be comfortable with the idea of a referendum even if a large number of Moroccan settlers would be voting.

    I disagree that flooding a country you've invaded with your own settlers until they form the majority gives you the right to keep it. In that case colonialism would just be a case of getting the settlers in before the international community got its act together and say - sorry, lots of our people live their now. I know Israel is attempting this in parts of the Palestinian territories with their ongoing policy of piece by piece land grabbing, particularly around Jerusalem, and I don't agree with that either.

    By this argument perhaps Saddam could have held onto Kuwait if he had coupled his military invasion with his own green march. After all, the arguments about historical links between Kuwait and Iraq were pretty similar to those I hear for Morocco and WS.

    Forever is a very long time. Not even the Earth will last forever - I doubt today's national borders will. You could be a bit less ambitious and go with the usual imperial rhetoric which usually invokes a timescale of a thousand years. Still unrealistic and hyperbolic, but not quite as daft. ;-)

  29. Anonymous2:42 AM

    why don't you tell us a little bit about the isles of Malvina's (falkland island), northern ireland and the rock.
    i mean geographically it doesn't make sense to have this three little countries belonging to england.

    let see , northern ireland the situation there was more dire and bloody than the southern provinces of morocco and the conflict isn't resolved properly yet even thou the situation is more calmer and the peace process seems to be holding but the country(northern ireland) is still split between catholic and protestant.

    malvina's (falkland islands) well the (iron lady) was in power at that time her government was in bad shape with recession and the strike from the miners , then the problem of malvina's showed up and guess what happen , the iron lady will use the conflict to rally the country behind here and show the world how to bomb the shit out (forgive my french)of third world country with the help of america as usual(reagan was a mate,any)and the democratically elected (Pinochet) who at the end turned up to be a dictator or a war criminal.

    how am i doing so far.
    the rock in arabic called (jabal tarik): geographically in spain or part of spain named after the greatest moroccan (amazigh)leader called (tarik ibn ziad) , spain isn't giving up the claim and the problem still on.

    i think you using the polisario because morocco refuse to give you a permission to finish your project in morocco sahara.i tell you what to do why don't you ask any old and wise sahraoui shikh (as you said you have meet all the sahraouis) and he'll tell you everything you need to know about. how the climate change did/have affected the landscape , which plants are edibale and which are medecinal , he'll tell you about the crocodile that has existed in morocco sahara but still exist in some parts of mauritania.

    i think i had enough , i'm going to (have a break have a kitt kat).

    ginger : can i have english tea plz.

  30. Last anonymous, I really coulndn't give a toss about Northern Ireland, the Malvinas or Gibraltar (you missed Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, not to mention Montserrat and Barbados, or is it Bermuda - I can never remember). These are all legacies of British colonialism in one form or another.

    But in the spirit of argument here are a few things to consider. I can see that the Malvinas is a howling geographical anomaly. However, the people living there are British citizens, and the UK presence there doesn't involve the oppression and exile of the original inhabitants. If the people there voted to become part of Argentina, fine with me.

    Northern Island is better than it was, but it's been a sectarian mess for ages. As far as I'm concerned the UK would be better off without it.

    A British Gibralter doesn't make much more geographic sense than the Malvinas. But again, if the inhabitants want to be British, let them. If they want to become part of Spain, let them. I really don't care.

    Morocco wants Ceuta and Melilla back, and fair enough - I have some sympathy there. Here's an idea. The UK gives Gibraltar to Spain. Spain gives Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco. Morocco gives Western Sahara to the Sahrawi. All this should be subject to the agreement of the inhabitants of the territories concerned. You could, oh I don't know, let people vote in a referendum to decide where they wanted their futures to be.

    It's illuminating that you think you can press my buttons by having a go at the UK's colonial legacies. You expect me to defend British colonialism? Don't make me laugh. While there are still nationalist idiots in the UK who believe we should still rule the world, they tend to be deranged fantasists. By and large my fellow Brits are much more relaxed about these things than our Moroccan friends. Although many Brits are a bit suspicious of being subsumed, as a semi-autonomous region, into a united Europe.

    Right, I'm off to start the Norfolk Nationalist Party. Romanes eunt domus!

    And thanks - this is a lot of fun ;-)

  31. Gingernut - have to confess I didn't read all of your post before responding to it (the nationalism stuff is just too predictable). So I didn't see the stuff related to our work. Think what you like, but I suspect there would be more restrictions on our movements in the occupied territories than where we work now.

    So you've read about what we're doing, and seen a few internet articles. Good for you. What we really want to know is when the monsoon collapsed in the middle Holocene (similar time, or later to the collapse in the central Sahara?), over what period, and how this relates to changes in livelihood strategies and funerary architecture. You or your sheikh friends are welcome to send me the answers on a post card, with supporing evidence.


  32. Saad does have a point on the "Arabic" in RASD. I suppose RASD was proclaimed in the times when the Pan-Arabic trend was very influential. But I don't like that kind of ethnic distinctions. Also Berbers are Saharawi, or the other way round. So maybe the 'Arabic' in RASD could be replaced with 'Amazigh'. Or it could be RAASD :)
    President Kadaffi would not like it I suppose.

  33. Better still: Saharawi Arab Amazigh Democratic republic ? Just a thought...