(Liens en anglais/ links in english)
Dans une nouvelle précédente, nous avons parlé de la carte “terroriste” que joue le Maroc auprès de l’Occident afin de garder le Sahara Occidental. Cette attitude est en phase avec un projet marocain d’autonomie du Sahara Occidental qui sera proposé à l’ONU en avril prochain. En effet, mieux vaut pour Rabat de voir un Sahara Occidental autonome mais faisant partie du Royaume plutôt qu’un État Sahraoui dirigé par le front POLISARIO (Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y Río de Oro).
Une analyse et un historique sur la question du Sahara Occidental vient de paraître sur le site de “Middle East Report” par Jacob Mundy, un spécialiste de la question.
Il décrit le dilemme du POLISARIO qui a toujours prôné l’indépendance totale et qui se retrouve presque seul devant les pressions marocaine, américaine et française d’accepter un compromis. Or, ce que les médias ne montrent pas, c’est qu’après plus de trente ans d’existence (il a été créé en 1973), le POLISARIO bénéficie d’un appui considérable au sein de la population, qu’elle soit au Sahara Occidental ou en exil (100 000 personnes dans les camps de réfugiés en Algérie). La preuve est le retour des accrochages violents et armés entre les sahraouis et la police marocaine depuis mai 2005 (date où eu lieu plusieurs manifestations contre la présence marocaine).
In a previous post, we talked about how Morocco is playing the “terrorist” card with the West in order to keep his control over Western Sahara. This attitude is in tune with a moroccan project proposing the autonomy of Western Sahara at the United Nation in April, next month. In fact, it’s better for Rabat to see an autonomous Western Sahara than a fully independent Sahrawi State under POLIRARIO’s rule (Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y Río de Oro).
An analysis and a historical review over the Western Sahara question is published in the“Middle East Report” website by Jacob Mundy, a specialist on that issue.
He describes the dilemma of POLISARIO which always proclaimed a total independence of Western Sahara and is now almost alone to confront american, french and moroccan pressures asking for compromise. But what the mainstrean medias don’t show is that, after more than 30 years of existence (it was created in 1973), POLISARIO still has a lot of support in the sahrawi population, whether it’s within Western Sahara or abroad (100000 persons in refugees camp in Algeria). The proof lies in the return of violent and armed skirmiches between the population and the moroccan police since May 2005 (the date when several demonstrations against the moroccan presence occured).
Here’s an excerpt of Mundy’s article:
The great success of POLISARIO’s founding fathers is that they fostered a political movement that is now self-sustaining and, more importantly, self-motivating. But that is part of the problem. Having reared younger Sahrawis on the slogan “All the homeland or martyrdom,” the POLISARIO elite is now hostage to its own rhetoric. It has become a practical and logical impossibility for POLISARIO’s leadership to compromise the fundamental goal of independence. To do so would mean that they are no longer POLISARIO; and if they were no longer POLISARIO, then their constituents — Western Saharan nationalists — would have no further use for them.
COLD LOGIC OF GEOPOLITICS
Yet compromising that fundamental goal is precisely the demand the UN Security Council will press upon POLISARIO, sooner or later. Officially, the UN supports the right to self-determination for Western Sahara, a prerogative the international body first backed in 1965, when the desert land was a Spanish colonial possession. Since 1991, the UN has maintained a mission in Western Sahara for the nominal purpose of organizing a referendum on independence. As a territory recognized by the UN as non-self-governing (and the last colony in Africa), Western Sahara has a right to independence grounded in international legality. Yet Morocco has made clear that it will not put its claim of “sovereignty” to the ultimate test of a vote on self-determination. Morocco is willing only to consider a negotiated final status agreement involving some measure of autonomy for Western Sahara. Self-determination is off the table.
On October 31, 2006, the Security Council passed Resolution 1720, “reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.” In other words, and despite the nod to “self-determination,” nothing will be forced upon Morocco. The Security Council, here guided by Morocco’s key allies France and the United States, wants a “mutually acceptable” agreement between POLISARIO and Morocco that is negotiated and implemented voluntarily. Out of one side of its mouth, the Security Council calls for a vote on independence; out of the other side, it tells POLISARIO it will not compel such a poll. By clear implication, the Security Council’s conditions for peace in Western Sahara demand that self-determination be sacrificed.
It was faith in this logic — and subtle encouragement from Washington and Paris — that drove Morocco to promote autonomy for its “Saharan provinces” as an alternative to the referendum. From late 2005 to late 2006, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI mediated a domestic dialogue on the autonomy concept. The defunct Royal Advisory Council on Saharan Affairs was brought back to life so that the palace could point to some semblance of consultation with Sahrawis. In February, Morocco verbally briefed officials from France, the US, Spain and Great Britain on its autonomy plan. A written proposal, almost two years in the making, will be presented to the Security Council in April. If there is any haste in Morocco’s actions, it is not because Western Sahara’s political future remains undecided. It is because Mohammed VI is hoping that the Security Council will bless autonomy before his greatest benefactors, Presidents George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac, abdicate. Indeed, his patrons’ encouragement is no longer so subtle. Chirac has recently called the Moroccan plan “constructive,” while Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns has dubbed it “promising.”
Though POLISARIO is feeling international pressure to compromise, it is feeling more internal pressure to fight back — literally. The same cold logic that gives Morocco comfort generates frustration among Western Saharan nationalists. The refugees, in particular, are keenly aware that their cause is boxed into a corner.