Sunday, September 20, 2009

THE WESTERN SAHARA


The story is familiar. Over a hundred thousand refugees languish in camps where many of them have lived for thirty years, others were born refugees, never knowing anything but the camps. The refugees fled the land their ancestors had lived on for nearly a thousand years following a foreign occupation, settlement, and annexation program, the country that displaced them refuses to enter meaningful negotiations and reneged on past agreements. A giant wall cuts off the refugees from 80% of their historic homeland, behind which the occupying power is attempting to establish facts on the ground, the basis for future negotiations, through a massive settlement program. Their political leadership is corrupt, dictatorial, and incompetent. Their international allies exploit their cause for their own political ends while doing little to address their situation.

The story is familiar, but the names are not. This is Africa's last colony, the Western Sahara. Since being claimed at the Berlin Conference, where Europe's colonial powers divided Africa among themselves, in 1884 the Western Sahara has been under foreign occupation, first by the Spanish, then briefly and partially by Mauritania, and now almost completely by the Moroccans.

In 1991 Morocco agreed to abide by international law and the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague and allow the Sahrawis who inhabit the territory the African kingdom claims as its Southern Provinces to vote on independence. Since then Rabat has dragged its feat, sought to undermine the independence movement, and blocked the referendum, seeking to include hundreds of thousands of Moroccan settlers in the poll which it has refused to allow.

Morocco's defiance of international law and contempt for the wishes of the U.N Security Council have included mining the Sahara, the disappearing of hundreds, possibly thousands of civilians, arbitrary detention, politically motivated arrests, ethnic discrimination, torture, among other activities associated with its attempt to colonize the desert territory, have elicited little reaction from the international community which is reluctant to criticize a key regional ally.

16 comments:

Bar Kochba said...

End the Occupation! I expect international marches and protests to begin shortly.

Young Activist said...

Um, right, why do I have a feeling that you are not genuinly concerned about the Western Sahara?

Diaspora Saharaui said...

"Their political leadership is corrupt, dictatorial, and incompetent. Their international allies exploit their cause for their own political ends while doing little to address their situation."
I don't agree with you on that, because it's not true. The sahrawu refugees love their leaders, and who must do something for them is the UN, but it doesn't because of the relations and the lobbies of Morocco. During 8 years Un was just unable to do something because US and France doesn't want. Can you imagine or believe that France prevent the Security Council to vote a resolution which avoid the MINURSO from controling the human rights in Western Sahara?
The problem come front UN and the international community and not from the sahrawi leaders or their allies.

Diaspora Saharaui said...

El Bar Kochba en su comengtario te esta tomando el pelo. Tienes razon, le importa un pito lo que pasa en el Sahara. Sin embargo, lo que esta pasando en Oriente Medio debe dolerle mucho. Por mi, que reviente!
Sabias que nosotros, los habitantes del Western Sahara hablamos espanol porque nuestra tierra fue una colonia espanola?

Bar Kochba said...

I certainly am. As a Zionist, I am concerned over the rights of every people to live freely in their own land, free from occupation and foreign influence.

Young Activist said...

Diaspora Saharaui,
Thanks for stopping by.

Unfortunately there is not any discussion of the Western Sahara issue in the U.S, I have never heard it mentioned even once in the U.S media, so my knowledge is very limited, that is why I think it is important for bloggers to post about the issues, to get a discussion going, perhaps if you are a Sahrawi I could interview you on my blog and post it for my readers to see, I think that would be very helpful. Anyways, from the little that I do know it does appear President Abdelaziz is much like President Abbas, having been President of the SADR and General Secretary of the Polisario since 1976 it looks as if he views himself as President for life, he is too reliant on foreign powers, and not tolerant of democratic discourse. Like I said, however, my knowledge is very limited, so if this judgment is based on bad or incomplete information I would ask your forgiveness and enlightenment.
Of course, I would agree with you that Morocco and the western powers that have been complicit with it bear sole responsibility for the situation, not because the SADR and the Polisario are perfect, but because it would not matter if they were perfect. I hope to hear from you again.

Bar,
Now, of course, that statement is not true given your position on the Palestinians (and the Sahrawis have only been living in their present area for nine-hundred years, certainly whoever lived there two-thousand years ago have a right to come and kick out these occupiers), and there has never been a Sahrawi state, language, currency, or religion, so clearly they are not a people and have no human rights.

Now of course, even if you were to discount these arguments I still doubt you care at all. Why? Because you are very vocal about your beliefs, if you did care at all you would have been posting about it for the last years, but I don't think I've ever heard you post about this, or any human rights issue for that matter, ever before.

Bar Kochba said...

YA, I post about Israel and issues affecting the Jewish community. There are so many human rights issues worldwide so I follow the dictum of the Sage: "the poor of your city come before of another city". Jewish human rights issues come before others. However, I am very concerned with the genocide in Darfur, and as a Zionist, I stand with every single oppressed people in the world. In my own community, I am very vocal in standing up for Darfur and other human rights abuses.

Again you show your ignorance of history. In your mind, the Jews were expelled in 70 CE and then came knocking on the doors of Palestine in 1945, after the Holocaust, throwing the Arabs out and establishing a state. Too bad that Israel was never without a Jewish presence, that Jews in every age made aliyah, that since the early 1800s Jews were legally purchasing land and settling on it, and that the right to Jewish resettlement in the entire Land of Israel is recognized under international law. You can check out my latest post for that.

And the Saharaui certainly have a better claim to independe than a people that was invented in 1964.

Young Activist said...

If you are so active within the "Save Darfur" diversion then you should know by now that the recently departed chief U.N peacekeeper there has declared the conflict over. More people were killed in the Gaza Strip in one month this year than have been killed in Darfur in the entire year.

Now, human rights issues effecting the Jewish community exist, certainly, but let's be serious, they are quantitatively different from the "poor" as you call them of the rest of the world. People seriously concerned about human rights will (a) not support their violation by their favored states, (b) not concern themselves with the crimes of others while ignoring the ones their government is complicit in, and (c) not value people's human rights based on their ethnicity, race, nationality, etc.

Diaspora Saharaui said...

You believe that the western model of democracy is good or perfect. Then, do you believe that the US can condemn the policy of Israel or force them to accept a solution of the problem of the Middle East? I do not believe.
I think the US cannot even oblige Israel to stop colonies because the true power is in the hands of Jews and of Jewish lobbies. And that is not democracy, it is called lobbycratie and it is another kind of dictatorship, the dictatorship of the lobbies, of the richest, of the economic interests.

The model of western democracy is not aplicable in Africa. The political, social and economic situation of the African peoples is the situation of the western countries 300 years ago. The African countries cannot shoot ahead especially that their natural resources are plundered by the West and they are obliged to stay in the poverty and misery).

And in this situation we ask them to follow the example of the western countries in democracy, human rights … So, since when the principles of democracy allow countries said democratic to steal the wealth of the other peoples. Can we call that democracy or respect of human rights?

I think we can call that just hypocrisy

Young Activist said...

If you read my blog you will find I am a harsh critic of many problems in the west, however, that does not justify third-world dictatorships either, and if you read Abdelaziz's public statements you will find he is very friendly to the west and to its corporatism. The idea that Jews control U.S policy towards Israel, or an other area, is really just stupid, and reminiscent of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The U.S supports Israel because of what it gets in return, not because of Jewish groups controlling the government. When the U.S's interests conflict with Israel's the U.S does not hesitate to follow its own path.

Diaspora Saharaui said...

All the problems the world have with muslims come from the palestinien problem. The 11 september attent come from the palestinian problem. All the world is unanimous : a lot of problems come from the palestinian people situation. So, why Us do not nothing to solve tthis fucking problem which disturbs everybody? We, saharawi we are disturbed by this problem. It doesn't let the international community bend over our problem. In democracy, do you believe that a simple citizen can be a president in a western country? You know very well that if he is not son of a francmaçon will have no access to the presidency. Freemaçonery is the lobbycratie. And that's not democracy. And to steal the wealth of the peoples of the Third World is not democracy. And the right of veto in the United Nations is not democracy. What do you say about France which with its véto prevented the Security Council from widening the skills of the MINURSO to watch human rights in the Western Sahara? If Morocco was not supported by the western powers it has been a long time since it would have left the Western Sahara. If Israel was not supported by US it has been a long time it would have established the peace in the Middle East.
Diplomacy is the external face of democracy, and in that domain western countries are the worst example.

Anonymous said...

What does that have to do with the government of the SADR, which shares the West's economic views?

Young Activist said...

That is absolutely correct, people so often use the problems of others as an excuse for the shortcomings of their own societies, but that is both hypocritical and an obstacle to social progress.

Diaspora Saharaui said...

Anonymous,

My answer is related to What Young Activist said :"President Abdelaziz is much like President Abbas, having been President of the SADR and General Secretary of the Polisario since 1976 it looks as if he views himself as President for life"

I want to say that western democracy is very difficult for peoples who stay in the Middle Age of the Western Countries. They can't go up to the same level of US or UK...

If Mohamed Abdelaziz stays president for a so long time it's due to a lot of social, political factors. But I assure that his people lobes him.
Look at Gadhafi. Nobody loves him but his people, because since he's leader there is no more poverty in Libia and taht's very important for the peoples of the 3rd world, a world which is killed by unjustice and misery.
These poor people dont' care for democracy, they have gtime to think for that, alle their time is for a full search of food.

Young Activist said...

Democracy and capitalism are separate issues. Not all capitalist governments are democratic (Chile under Pinochet) and not all democratic governments are capitalist (Venezuela under Chavez). The two really have nothing to do with each other. All peoples have a right to chose their own form of government and no one has the right to tell them what government they will have, not a dictator, not the west, and not its neighbors. If Abdelaziz is so popular then it should be no problem to have an election.

Diaspora Saharaui said...

You know, Sahara is in war situation since 34 years ago. It can't have sevral parties because of that. The only party is the olisario Front and in his last congress, Mohamed Abdelaziz proposed an alternation, but the congress refused a change of leader. This congress is the supreme authority of the movement