Monday, January 05, 2009

What happened?

Moroccan army fort in Guerguerat
During my embarrassing absence, a lot of Western Sahara-related things happened:
  • In December, Morocco began reinforcing its position on the Berm, a violation of the ceasefire. Polisario complained to the UN.
  • Human Rights Watch released its annual Western Sahara report. The report focuses on the abuses the Moroccan government inflicts on pro-independence Sahrawis. Here's a description of the torture of a Sahrawi activist named Asfari:
    After two, two and-a-half-hours, [the police] said, “Let’s try something else.” While I was still seated, they lifted my feet onto a second chair in front of me and hit the soles of my feet with what felt like hard plastic batons, for two, three minutes…One of them burned me with cigarettes on my wrists.

  • Two Sahrawi students, Mustapha Abd Daiem and Laktif el-Houssin, were crushed by a bus in a sit-in at a Marrakesh bus stop.
That last one is the one I'm saddest about effectively ignoring. It's a huge story, and the kind that shows how unpleasant life in Morocco can get if you're on the government's bad side. Interestingly, the incident also shows how good the Western Sahara conflict is, compared to other conflicts. An unjust death in DR Congo or Palestine would garner much less attention, considering the violence in those areas.

I know as well as anyone that a lot of stories on blogs are treated like a big deal, but then . If you want more coverage of one of these events or one I didn't name, say so in the comments. I'll do follow up reporting, and maybe post an interview with someone involved. It'll be a way to make up for the coverage these issues missed when I stopped blogging.

Photo from Flickr user Zongo769 used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Should be mentioned too: GIA founder Abdelhak Layada has said Hassan II had received him in his palace where they discussed WS according to the Algerian El Khabar site but the article is gone and now their english page reads : Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mourad Medelci, has rejected opening a new political escalation dispute front with Rabat, while saying that “statements of Moroccan officials, recently on Algeria, have driven the situation up to an exceeded level, on which I prefer to make no comment.” (But you still can check the original out at Carlos Ruiz Miguel's very interesting blog.)
    This came after the accusations of M6 himself about "Moroccan people held captive in Tindouf".
    Something is going on.

  2. Thanks for the info, VK. Do you think this, combined with the Moroccan military maneuver, means that tensions between Morocco and Algeria-Polisario are rising? Maybe Morocco is trying to do an Israel and pull off an attack or aggressive diplomatic move before Bush leaves office.

  3. Tensions are rising Will, no doubt about it. It could have to do with the Bush-Obama move or with the Russia–Ukraine gas disputes. Algeria is a big oil & gas-supplier. Pressure on Algeria is pressure on oil & gas-supplies and I suppose Morocco could be pushed, or supported by others with interests in this field.

  4. Anonymous8:10 PM

    lion the Zion jah rasta holly human watch is master , this's a religion on the making with it own sacred book called (holly watch do as i say not as i do)

  5. Hi will some of your news are wrong, well you must check all the sources, if you want your blog to be respected.
    about the sahraoui student, well you must know that hassan 2 gave sahraoui a lot of advantages over the other moroccan, one of this advantages is a card that allow them to travel in priority for free and everytime they want, these students stoped the transport bus and want to get in it even if it was full, a dispute happened, the bus did not stop... you must see here in morocco sahraoui have a lot of advantages and because of it they feel beyond the law, that s some bad things hassan 2 did.
    so please don't compare the real occupation of palestine, the palestinian slaughter with this fake conflict.
    well about algeria it's true that is going very bad with it, morocco doesn't understand why algeria doesn't want to open the border, it's a thing that goes again the economic developpement of the two countries,
    the position of algeria, can't be understood, we have a dictator at the same level that zimbabwe that failed to developp it country whith 400 billions $ cash from oil, and that is pushing all its strenght to hurt morocco? i just want to understand why, and don't say w.s is the cause, algeria only care about weakening morocco...
    a moroccan algerian war is possible

  6. Hey Saad, tell us more about the advantages Saharawis have over other Moroccan. I have heard the taxes in WS are lower, is it true?
    Btw. Morocco has troubles on all of it's borders not only on the Algerian. On the other hand Morocco has a lot of friends like Israel and Iran to name of few.

  7. i thing taxes and food is cheaper, but many sahraouis live in north : casablanca and rabat were work is available...
    morocco has very good relations with mauritania, spain is a big friend and the second investor in morocco he supports the autonomy(the small pieces of earth it occupies is not a big deal we will resolve the probleme with discussions as the friends do) so the only problem we have is algeria...
    The relations with iran are "normal" i guess i did not heard of anything special, about israel, it's complicated, the jews are part of the history of morocco, 50 years ago 300 000 jews lived in morocco,and even now we still have some, but that does nt mean we support israel, we are very far from that...

  8. a cool video about some moroccan jews that went to israel :

    i'm proud of the history of my country and how well we treated our jews, they miss morocco

    do you think that the jews are more moroccan than our sahraouis ??? open your eyes you are fooled

  9. will can i ask you a question? you are american i think, what about the palestinian problems in the u.s ? are there any associations? a hope to make things chanhe?
    some videos on youtube made me cry, it's cruel, poor people

  10. Hey, Saad and VK. Sorry for the delayed response--I just served two days on a jury.

    Saad, I think you misread my post. I'm not saying the conflict is as bad as Palestine--it isn't. I'm being thankful that so few Sahrawis die that when two are allegedly killed by Moroccan police it's a big deal.

    Your idea about why they were killed strikes me as a little weird. Let me get this straight: Hassan gave the Sahrawis privileges, like better bus rides, and they grew so haughty about those privileges that they were willing to give up their lives to get on a bus? That doesn't make much sense to me.

    It is very sad what's happening to the Palestinians, and yes, I am from the US. I'm sure you can find better information about US-Palestinian solidarity elsewhere on the internet, but I know my school has a chapter of Students for Justice for Palestine chapter.

    VK: Thank goodness for Algeria's oil and gas.

  11. Hey Saad, I don't think Morocco's only problem is Algeria. Simply because the Saharawis are not Algerian.
    Morocco has friends in Israel and Iran but the Saharawis have friends too like South Africa and Cuba.

  12. The relations with Spain according to Telquel-online are not as friendly as Saad thinks: D’après une enquête publiée par l’Institut royal des études stratégiques, créé par Mohammed VI en 2003, 85% de la population espagnole est persuadée que le prochain conflit armé de l’Espagne opposera le royaume de Juan Carlos à celui de Mohammed VI. In babelfish english: "According to an investigation published by the royal Institute of the strategic studies, created by Mohammed VI in 2003, 85% of the Spanish population is persuaded that the next armed conflict of Spain will oppose the kingdom of Juan Carlos to that of Mohammed VI."
    It is an interesting article about the military budget of Morocco which gets bigger and bigger.

  13. vk you have a probleme with morocco i guess :))

    "L’Espagne soutient le Maroc sur le Sahara Occidental"
    and yes the only probleme we have is algeria, but it's normal to have problem with algeria, morocco is a country with a very popular leader that tries to hold the best values of the west, and to ameliorate its economy for the benefit of its population, it's normal that we are the only med country to have an advanced status with EU :
    check this article :

    in the opposite algeria is kidnapped by some mafia that did not hesitate to kill 300 000 of its population to stay in power, that is poorly managing and wasting the oil $,
    it's normal that we are having problems with them

  14. Hearing that Morocco is reinforcing the Berm is horrible! And there are so many Saharawis in the camps that are wanting to pick up the weapons again because nothing is happening. I really hope this doesn't provoke the saharawies to really go back to war..

  15. The berm was made with Israeli advice was'nt it? Anyway now Venezuela has decided to kick the Israeli ambassador out of Venezuela for the Gaza atrocities, the Moroccan government has withdrawn it's ambassador from Venezuela. Officially because of Venezuelan hostility and/or kindness towards the Saharawi Republic. But it is more probably the Morroccan move is done in support of Israel.
    What do you think, Saad?

  16. lol, Van Kaas sometimes i'm really astonished by how naive you are...
    do you really think , in this world that we are living in, it's the justice and humanity that win ???
    did you see what happening in gaza ? 400 childs slauhtered, 60 years of occupation and humilation for the palestinians, and yet all the "civilized" world are just looking for the best thing to do to let israeli feel safe....

    all the moroccan hearts are crying blood for the palestinians but one most stay realist, we must be in american side and not venezuela or iran side...
    Chavez is a rubish man, we have a lot to win from europe, us or israel than hamas, iran,venezuela or zimbabwe
    even our closest neighboor algeria is our worst enemy we have nothing to do with this dirty dictators that try to blast and destry everything

  17. Well Saad, my answer to your question about justice and humanity is : those are simple values everybody likes. But I don't think there is a kind of competition with other values so no, justice and humanity can not "win".

    What is happening in Gaza is horrible. Israël should be critized by it friends like Mohammed VI. On the other hand, Israël never critized Morocco on the matter of Western Sahara, I believe. So we should not expect something like that to happen, do we?

    Anyway, the Moroccan-Spanish relation is clarified by this very interesting article in the IHT. Check it out.

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