Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Polisario Confidential takes me prime time

Polisario Confidential, the anti-Western Sahara blog run by a Moroccan spy agency, is finally paying me back for all the love I've shown them. They used the above picture in a post (translated) about SADR president Mohammed Abdelaziz meeting image consultants in New York City.

You might think the charmer on the right is some big New York mover-shaker, but it's actually me. They used a picture from when I met Abdelaziz last year, and Alle caught them. One imagines Polisario Confidential's thought process went like this:
Q:Where can we find a picture of Abdelaziz with a white guy?
A: One Hump or Two!
The whole thing's a treat, and I have to thank Polisario Confidential for brightening my day.

I wasn't in New York City for that picture, but I will be there next week for the United Nations IV Committee. If you're going to be around Tuesday or Wednesday, send me an email and we'll hang out.

21 comments:

  1. three points :
    1 : lol
    2 : you said in this reception there were :"a big muckity-muck at the Algerian embassy, the Algerian ambassador to the U.S., .... the Algerian UN delegate" and in the middle a white man you , quite weird what does all the algerian there...
    3 : they had some rumors and needed a picture with a white man...

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  2. Saad! I don't think I've officially welcomed you back yet, so let me say it's great that you're around.

    I don't think it's that weird that there were so many Algerians there, since Algeria is SADR's biggest ally. If you're saying it's weird that the dinner was me, Abdelaziz, and some Algerians, I'd agree, but it wasn't like that. There were also a lot of other people there (including someone from France, some Sahrawis, and a Spaniard, I think).

    Talking about meeting Western Sahara people in person gets me so excited for some NYC action.

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  3. Anonymous2:19 AM

    hello Will

    these people have NO right to publish your pic. without your OK.
    Abdelaziz is a "public" personality and may they can do but you are private man...
    so you can go to court and charge them. they have excuse you personely on their blog and have to pay $100.000 to refugees camp via international humanitarian NGO.

    good luck
    saharawi camel

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  4. Anonymous2:23 AM

    they even didnt give the source of the pic " 1/2 hump"

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  5. You know, I was thinking about the copyright issues involved. I'm normally open about anyone using my posts or pictures, which is why I have the Creative Commons license. All they would have to do to follow that would be to say I took it (well, my friend did with my camera), but I guess that would have given them away pretty fast.

    So now I could, if I spent tons of time on it, probably go after them with a takedown notice. I wouldn't want to usually, since this is hilarious and I don't like aggressive copyright litigation, but it would be interesting to see who Polisario Confidential represented as its public face.

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  6. Laroussi6:43 AM

    You don't have to spend tons of time Will on pursuing this. Don't you still have people who work "free" with law suits for a percentage of the indemnification?

    By the way, where does it say that you use a Creative Commons license?

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  7. It's at the bottom of the sidebar, under the Pushback widget (which I'm about to get rid of).

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  8. Laroussi1:49 PM

    I would say "Sue them!" and give the money to some charity or NGO that you like. Why not ASVDH in Western Sahara?

    By suing you could also gain media attention to the conflict and Morocco's shady ways of hiding the truth about its occupation.

    "US blogger sues Moroccan king for copy right violation"

    ;)

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  9. Mohamed- brahim4:09 PM

    HiWill! This indeed very funny! i could not stop myself from laughing when i read it! Again , you score 1 to 0 against mnoroccans agents whoever they are and wherever they are. Seems to me it is an act of stupidity on their side to drag you liek this in this issue especialyl that they are coming up with lies and ill- woven bedtime stories to show their so -called intelligence and their so called relentless attmepts to uncover the secret dark agents working pro bono for the saharwis and for their cause. Doesn't it sound like a Sta rwar movie? :)

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  10. Moahmed Brahim4:10 PM

    Sorry for the typing mistakes, i should revise my words before publishing them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Laroussi3:16 PM

    Besides copyright violation, you should sue the site owners for defamation.

    Since the copyright that has been violated isn't really commercial, the indemnification for that infringement would not be very high. Something like 30,000 to 150,000 dollars according to the U.S. Copyright Office

    But, the indemnification for defamation that is something completely different in your lovely country. Here we're talking millions of dollars. :)

    Imagine what you could do for that money against the Moroccan occupation and MVI's propaganda machinery. :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous12:34 PM

    http://www.metimes.com/Opinion/2008/10/06/a_seismic_shift_in_us_north_african_policy/6770/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous2:49 PM

    Haidar's Struggle
    Stephen Zunes | October 7, 2008

    Editor: John Feffer




    Foreign Policy In Focus www.fpif.org


    Aminatou Haidar, a nonviolent activist from Western Sahara and a key leader in her nation's struggle against the 33-year-old U.S.-backed Moroccan occupation of her country, won this year's Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

    This recognition of Haidar and her nonviolent freedom campaign is significant in that the Western Sahara struggle has often gone unnoticed, even among many human rights activists. In addition, highlighting the work of an Arab Muslim woman struggling for her people's freedom through nonviolent action helps challenge impressions held by many Americans that those resisting U.S.-backed regimes in that part of the world are misogynist, violent extremists. Successive administrations have used this stereotype to justify military intervention and support for repressive governments and military occupations.

    Unfortunately, given its role in making Morocco's occupation possible, the U.S. government has little enthusiasm for Haidar and the visibility her winning the RFK prize gives to the whole Western Sahara issue.

    Moroccan Occupation
    In 1975, the kingdom of Morocco conquered Western Sahara — on the eve of its anticipated independence from Spain — in defiance of a series of UN Security Council resolutions and a landmark 1975 decision by the International Court of Justice upholding the right of the country's inhabitants to self-determination. With threats of a French and American veto at the UN preventing decisive action by the international community to stop the Moroccan invasion, the nationalist Polisario Front launched an armed struggle against the occupiers. The Polisario established the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in February 1976, which has subsequently been recognized by nearly 80 countries and is a full member state of the African Union. The majority of the indigenous population, known as Sahrawis, went into exile, primarily in Polisario-run refugee camps in Algeria.

    Thanks in part to U.S. military aid, Morocco eventually was able to take control of most of the territory, including all major towns. It also built, thanks to U.S. assistance, a series of fortified sand berms in the desert that effectively prevented penetration by Polisario forces into Moroccan-controlled territory. In addition, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Morocco moved tens of thousands of settlers into Western Sahara until they were more than twice the population of the remaining indigenous Sahrawis. Yet the Polisario achieved a series of diplomatic victories that generated widespread international support for self-determination and refusal to recognize the Moroccan takeover. In 1991, the Polisario agreed to a ceasefire in return for a Moroccan promise to allow for an internationally supervised referendum on the fate of the territory. Morocco, however, refused to allow the referendum to move forward.

    French and American support for the Moroccan government blocked the UN Security Council from providing the necessary diplomatic pressure to move the referendum process forward. The Polisario, meanwhile, recognized its inability to defeat the Moroccans by military means. As a result, the struggle for self-determination shifted to within the Moroccan-occupied territory, where the Sahrawi population has launched a nonviolent resistance campaign against the occupation.

    Nonviolent Resistance
    Western Sahara had seen scattered impromptu acts of open nonviolent resistance ever since the Moroccan conquest. In 1987, for instance, a visit to the occupied territory by a special UN committee to investigate the human right violations sparked protests in the Western Saharan capital of El Aaiún. The success of this major demonstration was all the more remarkable, given that most of the key organizers had been arrested the night before and the city was under a strict curfew. Among the more than 700 people arrested was the 21-year-old Aminatou Haidar.

    For four years she was "disappeared," held without charge or trial, and kept in secret detention centers. In these facilities, she and 17 other Sahrawi women underwent regular torture and abuse.

    Most resistance activity inside the occupied territory remained clandestine until early September 1999, when Sahrawi students organized sit-ins and vigils for more scholarships and transportation subsidies from the Moroccan government. Since an explicit call for independence would have been brutally suppressed immediately, the students hoped to push the boundaries of dissent by taking advantage of their relative intellectual freedom. Former political prisoners seeking compensation and accountability for their state-sponsored disappearances soon joined the nonviolent vigils, along with Sahrawi workers from nearby phosphate mines and a union of unemployed college graduates. The movement was suppressed within a few months. Although the demands of what became known as the first Sahrawi Intifada appeared to be nonpolitical, it served as a test of both the Sahrawi public and the Moroccan government. It paved the way for Sahrawis to press for bolder demands and engage in larger protests in the future that would directly challenge the Moroccan occupation itself.

    A second Sahrawi intifada, which because known as the "Intifada al-Istiglal" (the Intifada of Independence), began in May 2005. Thousands of Sahrawi demonstrators, led by women and youths, took to the streets of El Aaiún protesting the ongoing Moroccan occupation and calling for independence. The largely nonviolent protests and sit-ins were met by severe repression by Moroccan troops and Moroccan settlers. Within hours, leading Sahrawi activists were kidnapped, including Haidar, who was brutally beaten by Moroccan occupation forces. Sahrawi students at Moroccan universities then organized solidarity demonstrations, hunger strikes, and other forms of nonviolent protests. Throughout the remainder of 2005, the intifada continued with both spontaneous and planned protests, all of which were met with harsh repression by Moroccan authorities.

    Haidar was released within seven months as a result of pressure from Amnesty International and the European parliament. Meanwhile, nonviolent protests have continued, despite ongoing repression by U.S.-supported Moroccan authorities. Despite continued disappearances, killings, beatings, and torture, Haidar has continued to advocate nonviolent action. In addition to organizing efforts at home, she traveled extensively to raise awareness internationally about the ongoing Moroccan occupation and advocate for the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination.

    U.S. Increases Backing for Morocco
    As repression increased, so did U.S. support for Morocco. The Bush administration has increased military and security assistance five-fold and also signed a free-trade agreement. The United States remained largely silent over the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Western Sahara while heaping praise for King Mohammed VI's domestic political and economic reforms. This year's Republican Party platform singles out the Kingdom of Morocco for its "cooperation and social and economic development," with no mention of Western Sahara.

    However, the occupation itself continues to prove problematic for Morocco. The nonviolent resistance to the occupation continues. Most of the international community, despite French and American efforts, has refused to recognize Morocco's illegal annexation of the territory.

    As a result, the Moroccan kingdom recently advocated an autonomy plan for the territory. The Sahrawis, with the support of most of the world's nations, rejected the proposal since it would not allow them the choice of independence, as all those living in non-self-governing territories have the legal right to do.

    Indeed, the autonomy plan is based on the assumption that Western Sahara is part of Morocco, a contention that the UN, the World Court, the African Union, and a broad consensus of international legal opinion have long rejected. To accept Morocco's autonomy plan would mean that, for the first time since the founding of the UN and the ratification of the UN Charter more the 60 years ago, the international community would be endorsing the expansion of a country's territory by military force, thereby establishing a very dangerous and destabilizing precedent.

    In addition, Morocco's proposal contains no enforcement mechanisms, nor are there indications of any improvement of the current poor human rights situation. It's also unclear how much autonomy Morocco is offering, since it would retain control of Western Sahara's natural resources and law enforcement. In addition, the proposal appears to indicate that all powers not specifically vested in the autonomous region would remain with the kingdom.

    Despite this, the Bush administration refers to Morocco's autonomy plan as "credible and serious" and the "only possible solution" to the Western Sahara conflict, further insisting that "an independent state in the Sahara is not a realistic option." While visiting Morocco last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her support for the "good ideas" put forth by the Moroccan occupiers. Referring to the 35-year-old conflict, she proclaimed that "it is time that it be resolved," presumably with the Sahrawis accepting their fate as permanently living under Moroccan rule.

    Key House Democrats have weighed in support of Morocco's right of conquest as well, with Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who chairs the Subcommittee on the Middle East, joining Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) in signing a letter endorsing the autonomy plan. Prominent Republicans signing the letter included Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), and former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). Indeed, more than 80 of the signers are either committee chairmen or ranking members of key committees, subcommittees and elected leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, yet another indication in this post-Cold War era of a growing bipartisan effort to undermine the longstanding principle of the right of self-determination.

    Advocacy for Haidar
    The RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights' selection of Haidar — one of the most prominent opponents of the U.S.-backed autonomy plan — may make it more difficult for the Bush administration to push acceptance of the Moroccan proposal through a reluctant UN Security Council. Ironically, the United States rejected a more generous autonomy plan for Kosovo and instead pushed for UN recognition of that nation's unilateral declaration of independence, even though Kosovo was legally part of Serbia and Western Sahara is legally a country under foreign military occupation.

    Alas, U.S. administrations have gone to great lengths to prevent RFK award recipients from even having the opportunity to tell their stories. For example, the Reagan administration denied entry to the United States to representatives of the 1984 winners CoMadres — the group of Salvadoran women struggling on behalf of murdered and kidnapped relatives and other victims of the U.S.-backed junta. They couldn't even receive their award.

    In addition to a modest cash reward, the human rights award includes the expectation the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights will launch an ongoing legal, advocacy and technical support through a partnership with the winner. According to Monika Kalra Varma, the center's director, "The RFK Human Rights Award not only recognizes a courageous human rights defender but marks the beginning of the RFK Center's long-term partnership with Ms. Haidar and our commitment to work closely with her to realize the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi people."

    Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), brother of the slain senator for whom the prize is named, stated, "I congratulate Aminatou Haidar for receiving this honor. All who care about democracy, human rights, and the rule of law for the people of the Western Sahara are inspired by her extraordinary courage, dedication and skilled work on their behalf."

    Next Steps
    Western Sahara remains an occupied territory only because Morocco has refused to abide by a series of UN Security Council resolutions calling on the kingdom to end their occupation and recognize the right of the people of that territory to self-determination. Morocco has been able to persist in its defiance of its international legal obligations because France and the United States, which wield veto power in the UN Security Council, have blocked the enforcement of these resolutions. In addition, France and the United States served as principal suppliers of the armaments and other security assistance to Moroccan occupation forces. As a result, at least as important as nonviolent resistance by the Sahrawis against Morocco's occupation policies would be the use of nonviolent action by the citizens of France, the United States and other countries that enable Morocco to maintain its occupation. Such campaigns played a major role in forcing the United States, Australia, and Great Britain to cease their support for Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. Solidarity networks have emerged in dozens of countries around the world, most notably in Spain and Norway, but don't yet have a major impact in the United States, where it could matter most.

    A successful nonviolent independence struggle by an Arab Muslim people under the Haidar's leadership could set an important precedent. It would demonstrate how, against great odds, an outnumbered and outgunned population could win through the power of nonviolence in a part of the world where resistance to autocratic rule and foreign military occupation has often spawned acts of terrorism and other violence. Furthermore, the participatory democratic structure within the Sahrawi resistance movement and the prominence of women in key positions of leadership could serve as an important model in a region where authoritarian and patriarchal forms of governance have traditionally dominated.

    The eventual outcome rests not just on the Sahrawis alone, but whether the international community, particularly those of us in the United States, decide whether such a struggle is worthy of our support.


    Stephen Zunes, a Foreign Policy In Focus senior policy analyst, is a professor of politics and chair of Middle East Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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  14. Anonymous8:58 AM

    So, what about the lawsuit?

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  15. Anonymous7:27 AM

    Heavy rain in Smara camps destroy refugee's shelter
    photos; www.arso.org

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  16. Anonymous8:05 AM

    A Seismic Shift in U.S. North African Policy.

    By THOMAS A. NASSIF, MICHAEL USSERY, FREDERICK VREELAND, MARC GINSBERG, and MARGARET TUTWILER (Former U.S. ambassadors to Morocco)

    Published: October 06, 2008

    Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, is expected to appoint seasoned U.S. diplomat and former U.S. Ambassador to Algeria and Syria Christopher Ross as his personal envoy for the Western Sahara. This appointment will hopefully continue the momentum of the current negotiations process to end the three decades old conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front, an Algerian-backed rebel movement which has challenged Morocco's historical sovereignty over a Colorado-sized desert territory in North Africa (sometimes referred to as the Western Sahara.)

    Despite a ceasefire that dates back to 1991, the United Nations has had little success in resolving this dispute or bringing relief to the thousands in Polisario-controlled refugee camps whose lives hang in the balance.


    As former U.S. ambassadors to Morocco who closely follow U.S. policy in the region, we were encouraged by the recent significant shift in how the U.S. administration addresses this long-standing conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front. Over the past months, the U.S. government publicly, and on several occasions, acknowledged that compromise, in the form of autonomy for the Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, is the only viable and realistic solution. This new development creates real possibilities for ending the conflict in the Western Sahara, which has contributed to significant economic and political instability in North Africa.


    This compromise did not appear by chance. Determined to end this conflict "from a long-gone era," as described by Morocco's King Muhammad VI, Morocco has compromised its long-established position for integrating the Sahara by offering broad-ranging autonomy consistent with international standards for self-determination. This opening enabled the Security Council to sponsor negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict and ending the humanitarian crisis for the tens of thousands of refugees held in camps around Tindouf in southwest Algeria.


    Since April 2007, when Morocco presented its compromise proposal, the United Nations has mediated four rounds of negotiations between the parties, which have shown promise, but little progress. At the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and his then personal envoy Peter van Walsum briefed the U.N. Security Council on the status of the negotiations, after which the members unanimously opted for "realism" rather than prolonging the stalemate that has existed for more than 30 years. The United States played a significant role in this sea change, noting in its statement following the briefing, "For our part, we agree with Mr. Van Walsum's assessment that an independent Sahrawi state is not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution."


    This position and its subsequent elaboration by U.S. State Department and White House officials represent an enormous step forward in engaging the parties to finally resolve the Western Sahara conflict. This shift in U.S. policy, and the appointment of Ambassador Christopher Ross, may provide the impetus for overcoming the challenges that have bedeviled the U.N.'s efforts to date.


    The U.S. Congress has also strongly endorsed Morocco's compromise initiative. In fact, 173 members of the House, including its bipartisan leadership and most of the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, signed a letter circulated by Reps. Gary Ackerman and Lincoln Diaz-Balart supporting the Moroccan initiative.


    Ending the Western Sahara conflict makes sense for the parties themselves, the refugees, and U.S. national interests.


    Resolving this conflict would clear the way for greater economic cooperation among the five countries of the Maghreb, which is long overdue.


    The increase in terrorist activities in the region can be combated effectively only through transnational strategies based on greater cooperation between Morocco and Algeria. Algeria must be strongly encouraged to support this U.S. policy shift to support our mutual interests in the region. And giving the refugees the opportunities for normal lives, a return to their families, and an end to the isolation of the refugee camps is a goal that should be achieved sooner rather than later.


    This change in U.S. policy and the support of the Security Council bring resolution of the Western Sahara conflict into the realm of the likely; we should not let this real chance for peace be squandered.

    --

    Thomas A. Nassif, Michael Ussery, Frederick Vreeland, Marc Ginsberg, and Margaret Tutwiler served as U.S. ambassadors to Morocco under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush.

    ------------------------------------------

    Just compare both opinions, authors, contents, facts and credebility.

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