Monday, November 21, 2005

30 years of Western Sahara injustice

The UK Guardian's Ian Black wrote a piece on the 30th anniversary of the unilateral Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara.

The late King Hassan invoked centuries-old ties of allegiance by Saharan tribes to assert his sovereignty and claim the territory's rich phosphate deposits and offshore fishing grounds even as his regime assiduously worked against international efforts to organize a referendum in Western Sahara about the land's future status.

Though Hassan's successor and son, King Mohammed VI, is seen by some as more modern, his rule has seen no progress on the issue.

In 2003 a UN plan proposed to give the Sahara autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty pending a referendum, a position which Polisario reluctantly accepted even though it fell far short of its demand for full independence. Morocco rejected the plan.
Intense haggling over precisely who is eligible to vote underlines the view that Morocco cannot risk a free vote it knows it would lose.

King Mohammed uses scare tactics, such as hinting at the 'Balkanization' of the region, to deny the Saharawi the right to decide their own future.

The Western Sahara Campaign took issue with Black's characterization that the campaign might be naive.

If there were justice in the world, campaigns such as ours would not need to exist. Our purpose is to draw attention to an injustice that has long been neglected by members of the UN security council, including our own government, counters a member of the UK Western Sahara Campaign.
The security council has passed dozens of resolutions calling for a referendum on self-determination for the Western Sahara. None has been implemented, and Minurso, the UN body intended to supervise the referendum, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve nothing.

She notes that diplomatic pressure on Morocco is required for movement on the question. At the last security council meeting, John Bolton suggested this dispute had gone on for long enough. Whether his sentiment inclines the US - or the security council as a whole - to at last put pressure on Morocco to do the right thing remains to be seen.

The new UN envoy, Peter van Walsum, can only make progress if the member states support him, above all by moving Morocco from its intransigent opposition to any referendum including independence as an option.

She also suggests a tourist boycott of Morocco as long as they refuse the Saharawi people their right to self-determination.


At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bonjour Brian,

J'ai cité votre post sur mon blog
J'ai voulu faire un trackback mais j'ai pas trouvé comment faire...



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