Stolen resources from the Western Sahara arriving in Vancouver

In an exclusive interview with Erik Hagen from Western Sahara Resource Watch, and just as a ship containing stolen resources from the Western Sahara arrives in Vancouver, we look at Canada’s involvement in supporting the illegal export of phosphates from the occupied land.

 

See also the recent report P for plunder

pforplunder

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WSF receives large delegation from the Western Sahara

IMG_1627The people from the Western Sahara have come numerous to Tunis. Under a packed tent several members of their communities spoke out about the situation in their occupied land. Hassan Aba a refugee who now lives in Egypt talks about the repression and torture he faced.

Émissions Amandla du 20 et du 27 juin 2007/ Amandla shows from June 20th and 27th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant les émissions Amandla du 20 et 27 juin dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez les télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Le 27 juin

Entrevue avec Béatrice Umutesi présentant son livre: “Fuir Umutesiou mourir au Zaïre. Le vécu d’une réfugiée rwandaise” – en français. Mme Umutesi est une ancienne réfugiée originaire du Rwanda qui s’enfuit au Zaïre suite au génocide rwandais. Elle travaillait comme coordonnatrice d’ONG avant de fuir au Zaïre. Elle découvre que le Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), mouvement de libération qui est aujourd’hui au pouvoir au Rwanda, aurait aussi perpétré des massacres contre les hutus pendant le génocide. La situation rwandaise a donc été plus confuse que ce qu’a bien voulu présenter la presse internationale. Paradoxalement, c’est le FPR que Mme Umutesi dut fuir. Elle quitte pour le Zaïre. Mais la guerre la rejoint avec des soldats du Rwanda qui traversent la frontière pour attaquer les camps de réfugiés. Mme Umutesi dut encore fuir marchant 2000 km dans la jungle congolaise pour trouver la paix.

Décès de Ousmane Sembène (photo plus bas) – en français et anglais. Icône du cinéma africain, né en Casamance (Sénégal). Revue de sa carrière et de sa vie. Il a écrit 5 romans, 5 recueils nouvelles et 14 films.

Les États-Unis cherchent une base pour l’AFRICOM – en anglais. Tel que présenté dans le blog, les pays d’Afrique du Nord refusent d’héberger l’AFRICOM sur leur territoire.

 

L’Union Européenne négocie une entente de libre-échange avec la CEDEAO (Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) – en anglais. Une telle entente lierait l’une des plus riches régions du monde avec l’une des plus pauvre. Les négociations ne se font donc surement pas sur une base “d’égal à égal”. L’Europe pourrait avoir un accès total au marché de la CEDEAO.

Comment le monde arabe ignore le Darfour – en anglais. Analyse d’un article paru dans le New Internationalist, intitulé “Salaam Darfur”, et qui critique le silence et même le déni du monde arabe devant les événements du Darfur. Cet article a été écrit par deux activiste arabes: Moataz El Fegiery et Ridwan Ziyada.

 

Le 20 juin

 

Émission entièrement en anglais.

Commentaires sur les discussions entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc sous les auspices des Nations Unies – en anglais. Les discussions se sont faites sous les regards d’observateurs Algériens et Mauritaniens. Elles se sont tenues à la suite d’une résolution de l’ONU datant d’avril 2007. Jusqu’à maintenant, rien n’a bougé, si ce n’est la décision de continuer les discussions en août 2007. Pendant ce temps, une génération de réfugiés vit toujours en Algérie, et beaucoup d’entre eux n’ont jamais vu le Sahara Occidental.

Découverte du pétrole au Ghana – en anglais. Le Ghana espère exploiter son pétrole sans tomber dans le piège de la mauvaise gestion de la ressource.

SIDA et développement en Afrique – en anglais. SIDA et développement ont mauvaise presse en Afrique. Le SIDA n’est pas qu’un enjeu de santé publique, il bloque le développement économique. Même dans un pays riche comme le Botswana, il peut faire des ravages.

Grèves générales en Afrique du Sud – en anglais. L’Afrique Du Sud entre dans sa 18ème-19ème journée de grève générale alors que les syndicats et le gouvernement n’arrivent pas à s’entendre. Des reportages provenant du terrain sont présentés.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the June 20th and 27th Amandla radio shows on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the shows here (link valid for two months only).

June 27th

United States try to find an african base for AFRICOM – in english. Countries from Northern Africa don’t want the opening of the base. The subject was addressed in a previous post.

European Union wants to build a free trade deal with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) – in english. This agreement could link one of the wealthiest zone of the world with the poorest countries of the world. This deal might not be negotiated in equal terms. Europe could have total access to the ECOWAS countries…

Death of Ousmane Sembène (see picture) – in english and french. Born in Casamance Ousmane Sembène(Senegal), he was the first african film director to have an international recognition. Review of his career and his life. He wrote 5 novels, 5 short story book, and 14 films. He died on June 10th 2007.

How the arab world ignores Darfur – in english. Analysis of an article from the New Internationalist (“Salaam darfur”) who criticizes the heavy silence and denial from the Arab world regarding the events occuring in Darfur. It was written by two arabic human rights activists: Moataz El Fegiery and Ridwan Ziyada.

Interview with Béatrice Umutesi author of the book: “Surviving the slaughter. The ordeal of a Rwandan refugee in Zaïre” – in french. Mrs Umutesi is a former Rwandan refugee who fled the genocide and went to Zaïre (today called Democratic Republic of Congo). She worked for an NGO before fleeing to Zaïre. She discovered that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), the liberation movement in Rwanda who’s now in power, also perpetrated mass murders against the Hutus during the genocide. The situation in Rwanda was therefore more complex than what the international medias depicted. Oddly enough, it’s the FPR Mrs Umutesi had to run from. She fled to Zaïre. But the war caught on her with Rwandan troops crossing the border and attacking refugee camps. She had to run into the jungle and walk 2000 km to find a safe place!

June 20th

Show entirely in english.

Comments on the talks between the Polisario and Morocco under United Nations’ auspices – in english. Talks were held between Morocco and Polisario front with observers from Algeria and Mauritania. They were held following a resolution from April 2007. So far, they lead to nothing concrete and they will continue in August 2007. Meanwhile, a generation of refugees still live in Algeria and most of them were born there and have never seen Western Sahara.

Oil found in Ghana – in english. Ghana hopes to exploit its oil without falling into mismanagement.

AIDS and development in Africa – in english. AIDS and development are treated negatively in Africa. AIDS isn’t just a health issue; it hinders economic development and social capabilities. Even in a rich african country like Botswana, it can be a really serious problem.

General strikes in South Africa – english. South Africa enters its 18-19th day of general strike as the unions and the government can’t find an agreement. Reports from the field are presented.

Voici un court vidéo d’Ousmane Sembène recevant “l’Akira Kurosawa” award au Festvial de film de SanFrancisco en 1993. Here is a short video of Ousmane Sembène receiving the Akira Kurosawa award at the 1993 San Francisco International Film Festival:

Le cas du Sahara Occidental devant l’ONU…encore/ Western Sahara’s case handled by the United Nations…again

(Lien en français/ link in french)

Voici un article d’Afrik.com qui traite des négociations qui ont présentement lieu à l’ONU au sujet du Sahara Occidental:

Here is an article from Afrik.com addressing the issue of Western Sahara and the ongoing negociations at the United Nations:

Afrik.com (Joan Tilouine):

L’avenir du Sahara occidental entre les mains de l’ONU
L’organisation encadrera des négociations directes entre le Maroc et le Front Polisario

Autonomie ou indépendance, le statut de l’ex-colonie espagnole du Sahara occidental est actuellement en cours de négociation sous la houlette des Nations Unies. Le mois d’avril a été particulièrement prolifique sur le plan diplomatique et marque la volonté apparente de l’ONU de trouver une solution consensuelle entre les deux belligérants. Le rapport de force entre le Maroc et le mouvement pour l’indépendance de ce territoire, le Front Polisario, est désormais arbitré par l’organisation internationale qui ouvre la voie à des négociations directes.

Lundi dernier, à l’unanimité de ses quinze membres, le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU a appelé le Maroc et le Front Polisario à « engager des négociations sans conditions préalables et de bonne foi, en prenant en compte les événements des derniers mois, afin de parvenir à une solution politique juste, durable et mutuellement acceptable qui permette d’assurer l’autodétermination du Sahara occidental ».

Un satisfecit pour les Sahraouis du Front Polisario, tant cette résolution 1754 élude le projet d’autonomie marocain au profit du principe du droit inaliénable à l’autodétermination. Même son de cloche pour l’Algérie, soutien inaltérable des indépendantistes, qui salue la médiation onusienne et adhère à sa démarche préconisant les négociations directes. Après plus de trente années de lutte éreintante du peuple sahraoui pour l’accès à l’indépendance, l’ONU apparaît comme le cadre le plus adéquat pour négocier une solution politique. Dans sa résolution, l’ONU se félicite « des efforts sérieux et crédibles faits par le Maroc pour aller de l’avant vers un règlement prenant note également de la proposition du Front Polisario présentée au secrétaire général le 10 avril 2007 ».

Deux visions opposées de l’avenir du Sahara Occidental

Des émissaires du secrétaire général des Nations Unies Ban Ki Moon sont attendus au Maroc et en Algérie vers le 15 mai pour définir les cadres des négociations. « Nous allons décider des cas pratiques et établir le cadre, la date et le lieu pour entamer les négociations », a annoncé le représentant du Polisario aux Etats-Unis, Mohammed Boukhari. Médiation américaine, c’est ce que propose l’ambassadeur des Etats-Unis à Rabat, Thomas Riley, qui s’est dit « prêt à faciliter les négociations » entre les deux camps.

Toutefois, deux conceptions s’opposent, deux visions pour le statut futur du Sahara occidental mais surtout deux intérêts incompatibles. Pour le Royaume chérifien, la souveraineté sur ses « provinces du sud » ne peut être remise en cause. Le plan d’autonomie présenté à l’ONU, et défendu mordicus, vise à confier aux sahraouis la gestion interne du territoire maintenu sous tutelle marocaine. Pour Rabat, ce projet constitue « la seule et unique solution » pour mettre un terme à ce conflit sans fin. Un plan naturellement approuvé par les membres du Conseil royal consultatif pour les affaires sahariennes, un organe marocain composé de sahraouis favorable à la mainmise, négociée, du Royaume sur le Sud. Un projet fermement rejeté par le Front Polisario, attaché à l’organisation d’un référendum. Annexion ou indépendance, telles sont les deux options.

Émission Amandla du 11 avril 2007/ Amandla show from April 11th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 11 avril dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

– Commentaires sur l’article d’Eduardo Galeano concernant le Sahara Occidental – en anglais. Vous pouvez lire le texte ici.

– Commentaires sur l’éditorial de Margaret Wente du Globe and Mail – en anglais. Margaret Wente est une éditorialiste du Globe and Mail connue pour ses positionsAyaan Hirsi Ali conservatrices qui lui ont attiré des critiques acerbes. Elle a rédigé un article sur Ayaan Hirsi Ali (voir photo), une somalienne qui a vécu au Pays-Bas et qui s’est réfugiée au États-Unis après une controverse lié à une histoire de fausses déclarations lorsqu’elle immigra au Pays -Bas en 1992. Pourtant, elle a occupé un poste dans le gouvernement néerlandais et est connue pour ses positions anti-religieuses et particulièrement contre l’Islam.

Commentaires sur un article de Simon Tisdall à paraitre dans le Guardian Weekly – en anglais. Il concerne la débâcle de l’armée éthiopienne en Somalie et comment un État destructuré politiquement comme la Somalie risque d’affecter toute la région de la Corne de l’Afrique qui pourrait bien se destructurer à son tour.

– Analyse de la situation en Côte d’Ivoire – en français. Analyse de la nomination de Guillaume Soro au poste de Premier ministre de Côte d’Ivoire (certains détails ont aussi été abordés dans ce blog).

-Analyse de la situation politique en République Démocratique du Congo – en français. Analyse de la situation politique en RDC et les événements entourant le départ de Jean-Pierre Bemba (certains détails ont aussi été abordés dans ce blog).

-Commentaires sur la politique africaine des candidats aux élections françaises – en français. Les candidats Ségolène Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy, François Bayrou et Jean-Marie Le Pen sont analysés au niveau de leurs politiques vis-à-vis le continent africain et l’immigration en France.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the April 11th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

– Comments on Eduardo Galeano’s text regarding Western Sahara – in english. You can read his text here.

– Comments on an editorial written by Margaret Wente from the Globe and Mail – in english. Margaret Wente is an editorialist from the Globe and Mail known for her conservative positions which attracted harsh critics. She wrote an article on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman (see picture) who lived in Netherlands and then moved to the United States after a controversial story about false informations she gave in order to be accepted as an immigrant in the Netherlands in 1992. She’s known for her strong anti-religious position, specifically against Islam.

– Comments on an article by Simon Tisdall to be published in the Guardian Weekly – in english. Comments on Simon Tisdall’s text regarding the Ethiopian army’s debacle in Somalia. He also says that we may now see Somalia as a failed State but soon the Horn of Africa could turn into a failed Region.

– Analysis of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire – in french. Comments on the nomination of Guillaume Soro as the new Prime minister of the country (some details are shown in previous posts).

– Analysis of the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo – in french. Analysis of the situation in DRC and the events surrounding the departure of Jean-Pierre Bemba (Some details are presented in previous posts).

-Comments on the African policy of the candidates for the upcoming french elections – in french. The immigration and African policies of the candidates Ségolène Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy, François Bayrou and Jean-Marie Le Pen are analysed.

Eduardo Galeano sur le Sahara Occidental/ Eduardo Galeano on Western Sahara

Nous avons parlé quelques fois du Sahara Occidental (ici et ). Voici un article d’Eduardo Galeano sur la question qui date de Novembre 2006, mais qu’il est bon de remettre sur la sellette.

We talked a few times about Western Sahara (here and there) . Here is an article by Eduardo Galeano on this question. It is from November 2006 but it is worth revisiting:

The Berlin Wall made the news every day. From dawn to dusk we read about it, heard about it, and saw it: The Wall of Shame, the Wall of Infamy, the Iron Curtain.

Eventually, this wall, which deserved to fall, fell. But other walls have sprung up, and continue to spring up, and though they are far larger than the Berlin Wall little or nothing is said about them.

Little is said about the wall the United States is erecting along its border with Mexico, or the double razor-wire fences around Ceuta and Melilla, the Spanish enclaves on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco. Next to nothing was said about the West Bank Wall, which perpetuates the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and will soon be 15 times longer than the Berlin Wall. And the Moroccan Wall, which for 20 years has perpetuated Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, goes unmentioned altogether. This wall, continuously mined and surveilled by thousands of soldiers, is 60 times longer than the Berlin Wall.

Why is it that some walls are so vocal and others are so mute? Would it be because of the walls of uncommunication that the major media erect each day?

In July 2004 the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the West Bank Wall violated international law and ordered it torn down. Thus far, Israel hasn’t found out about it.

In October 1975 the same court found that there was no ‘tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco’. To say that Morocco was deaf to the court’s finding is an understatement. It was far worse: the day after the decision was issued, Morocco began the invasion, the so-called ‘Green March’, and before long it had seized vast areas and expelled the majority of the population in a wave of blood and fire.

And so it goes.

A thousand and one UN resolutions have confirmed the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination.

What good were they? A plebiscite was to be held so the population could decide on its fate. To ensure victory, the Moroccan monarch filled the invaded territory with Moroccans. But before long not even the Moroccans were deemed trustworthy. And the King, who had said Yes to the plebiscite, said Who knows? And later he said No, and now his son, who inherited the throne, also says No. The denial is the same as a confession. By denying the right to vote, Morocco confesses that it stole a country.

Will we continue to accept such developments? To accept that in a universal democracy we subjects have a right only to obedience?

What was the effect of the 1,001 UN resolutions against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory? And the 1,001 resolutions against the blockade of Cuba?

As the old saying goes: ‘Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.’

These days patriotism is a privilege of dominant countries. When the dominated countries try it, patriotism smells suspiciously like populism or terrorism, or simply deserves no attention.

The Saharawi patriots who have fought for 30 years to regain their place in the world have won diplomatic recognition from 82 nations, including my country, Uruguay, which recently added its name to the large majority of the countries of Latin America and Africa.

But not Europe. No European country has recognized the Saharawi Republic. Including Spain. This is an instance of serious irresponsibility, or perhaps amnesia, or at least disaffection. Three decades ago the Sahara was a colony of Spain, and Spain had a legal and moral duty to protect its independence.

What did imperial rule leave behind? After a century, how many professionals did it train? Three: a doctor, a lawyer, and a trade expert. That is what it left behind. That and a betrayal. It served up this land and its people on a platter to be devoured by the Kingdom of Morocco.

A few years ago, Javier Corcuera interviewed in a Baghdad hospital a victim of the bombing of Iraq. A bomb had destroyed her arm. Just eight years old, after eleven operations, the girl said: ‘If only we didn’t have oil.’

Maybe the people of the Sahara are guilty because off their long coastline lies the greatest treasure of fishes in the Atlantic Ocean and because beneath the immensity of its seemingly empty sands lie the world’s largest phosphate reserves and perhaps oil, natural gas and uranium.

This prophecy could be, though isn’t, in the Qur’an: ‘Natural resources will be the curse of the people.’

The refugee camps in the south of Algeria are in the most desertic of all deserts. It is a vast void, surrounded by nothingness, where only rocks grow. And yet in this place, and in the liberated areas, which are not much better, the Saharawis have been able to construct the most open and the least machista society in the entire Muslim world.

This miracle of the Saharawis, who are very poor and very few, cannot be explained solely by their tenacious will to be free, which is abundant in these places where everything is lacking. It is also largely a factor of international solidarity. And the majority of assistance comes from the people of Spain. Their vital solidarity, memory and dignity are far more powerful than the waffling of governments and the cynical calculations of business.

Note: solidarity, not charity. Charity humiliates. Do not forget the African proverb: ‘The hand that receives is always lower than the hand that gives.’ * The Saharawis wait. They are condemned to perpetual anguish and perpetual nostalgia. The refugee camps carry the names of their kidnapped cities, their lost meeting places, their haunts: L’ayoun, Smara, Dakhla.

They are called children of the clouds because they have always chased the rain.

For more than 30 years they have also pursued justice, which in our world seems rarer even than water in the desert.

Le Sahara Occidental et le front POLISARIO/ Western Sahara and the POLISARIO Front

(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.

Morocco plays the “terror card” to keep Western Sahara/ La Maroc joue “la carte de la terreur” pour garder le Sahara Occidental

Le Maroc joue la carte de la menace terroriste pour maintenir son influence au Sahara Occidental (lien en anglais). Les autorités marocaines font la tournées des chancelleries occidentales en vue d’avoir leur soutien dans la proposition d’un plan qui sera soumis à l’ONU. Ce plan donnerait une autonomie à un gouvernement sahraoui mais la souveraineté et le contrôle de la sécurité du Sahara Occidental relèveraient du Maroc. En décrivant le Sahara Occidental comme une région vide, désertique propice à tout genre de trafics et hébergeant des groupe islamiste qui peuvent provenir de n’importe où dans le désert du Sahara, le Maroc espère convaincre l’Occident qu’il demeure un acteur incontournable dans la sécurité de la région. Il donne pour preuve les attentats récents qui ont eu lieu à Casablanca (autre lien ici) et qui seraient liés à des groupes affiliés à Al-Qaida.

According to the London Guardian, Morocco plays on terror fears in Sahara peace bid:

Playing on European and US fears of expanding terrorist networks in North Africa, Morocco is seeking international backing for a new peace plan for the Western Sahara. But ownership of the vast mineral-rich territory bordering the Atlantic, controlled in theory by Rabat since the 1970s, is disputed by Algerian-backed Polisario Front separatists. They want full-blown independence, not limited autonomy.

Senior Moroccan officials have visited Washington and other western capitals in recent weeks to promote the plan, to be presented to the UN next month. In return for creating a Western Sahara regional government and parliament, Moroccan sovereignty and control of security, borders and finances would be formally acknowledged.

“We are extremely concerned about increased terrorist operations in the Sahel region,” said interior minister Chakib Benmoussa after meeting home secretary, John Reid, and foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, in London last month.

“It’s an enormous area, scarcely populated, with a low level of controls. A whole range of illicit operations – drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorist groups – is taking place there.” Morocco was a “rampart” defending Europe, he said.

Taib Fassi-Fihri, minister-delegate for foreign affairs, said British officials and other European governments were becoming “more sensitive” to the link between the Western Sahara and terrorist and other security threats emanating from the Maghreb. “Given the challenges of radicalisation and al-Qaida that we all face, it would be extremely useful for everybody to have this problem resolved,” he said.

Recent events in Morocco, a bomb blast in Casablanca, helps the government to push with the terrorism argument (more in the french and algerian newspapers).