The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy Explained

morocco's western sahara autonomyFrom the Green March to the autonomy proposal, Morocco has demonstrated leadership in peaceful endeavors to solve the Sahara issue. Restraint and diplomacy were Morocco’s strategic choices, I don’t think that we were successful in balancing both and many times the diplomacy side lost flair, many countries decided to recognize the ‘rasd’ because our diplomacy was ill guided in the 80s and 90s, Algeria and the Polisario made grave mistakes too, they ally themselves with the wrong countries, so everyone lost a few diplomatic battles no one lost the war yet and no one should.

The late king Hassan II dealt with the Sahara issue in very charismatic way, this attitude helped and tainted the dossier, the diplomacy of isolating the Polisario by ignoring it isolated Morocco further, resulting in the 1984 fiasco at Addis Abbaba and the exit of Morocco from the AU. Lessons have been learned, new paths have been exploited, new ideas have been entertained but I am afraid that other than King Mohammed VI and a few new faces in the dossier, the rest are old school diplomats with egoistic resistance to change, this change embodied in the autonomy proposal, this new idea has to be sold, explained, promoted and finally implemented by a team of individuals with new spirit and no ties to the past.

If I understand the autonomy well or well enough to explain it, I believe that it consists of 4 major points:

14. The State shall keep exclusive jurisdiction over the following in particular;.
 the attributes of sovereignty, especially the flag, the national anthem and the currency;
 the attributes stemming from the constitutional and religious prerogatives of the King, as Commander of the Faithful and Guarantor of freedom of worship and of individual and collective freedoms;
 national security, external defense and defense of territorial integrity;
 external relations
 the Kingdom’s juridical order

The role of the Polisario / Algeria
15. State responsibilities with respect to external relations shall be exercised in consultation with the Sahara Autonomous Region for those matters which have a direct bearing on the prerogatives of the Region. The Sahara Autonomous Region may, in consultation with the Government, establish cooperation relations with foreign Regions to foster inter-regional dialogue and cooperation.

The management of the daily life in the Sahara
A head of the government
A parliament
A Court system
Police and taxes

13. The Sahara Autonomous Region will have the financial resources required for its development in all areas. Resources will come, in particular, from:
 taxes, duties and regional levies enacted by the Region’s competent authorities;
 proceeds from the exploitation of natural resources allocated to Region;
 the share of proceeds collected by the State from the exploitation of natural resources located in the Region;
 the necessary funds allocated in keeping with the principle of national solidarity.
 proceeds from the Region’s assets.

I was against this idea at first but after reading about it, and after careful look at the region and all threats sighting it, I truly belied in it now, I think that it represents a real opportunity for all parties to start working on folding this dossier once for all. I believe that those who live in Tindouf, I hope they have access to the internet to read about these debates, understand that the Moroccan solution presented to the UN, Algeria and the Polisario is the only workable solution anything less or more will create a winner and a loser, something to avoid at all cost because we could have a Punic grudge which could last for decades if not centuries. For Algeria to think that Morocco will be muscled out of the Sahara is either strange imagination or wishful thinking; Morocco did not occupy a sovereign nation, Morocco did not annex a land belonging to another nation, a Sahara nation was never a reality and not even an idea. For Morocco to accept the injection of a proxy state in the 21st century is pure hallucination from the Algerian generals.
Now, the Sequestered Sahrawis in Tindouf are either people with adversary opinions about Morocco and or  are just forced to live there and used as a bargaining chip, Morocco needs to reach out to all in order to explain the reality which is: a referendum is not realistic and most Moroccans are against it; they do not want to let future of their land get decided without their input, just like a Sahrawi will not accept for the northern region to enter some kind of referendum. War is not an answer to anything, the war drums that the Polisario is beating these days will bring more despair to the Tindouf population, the creation of a mini state in that region will be the greatest farce ever. A nation of 150 thousand inhabitants in land almost equal to France in the 21st century is a childish dream what is left is the better of the two worlds (Autonomy)
On one hand being part of nation 13 centuries-old under a flag recognized and respected throughout the world
On the other hand being autonomous in your decisions in managing your resources etc..

Among many world entities supporting this initiative the USA, a country considered as a close ally to Morocco but it never puts its giant weight behind any cause until it is well understood; consider the following:
Washington, 22 Dec. 2008 (MAP) - The resigning US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Welch, said the autonomy initiative proposed by Morocco for its southern provinces is the "most likely solution" to settle the "Western" Sahara dispute, describing the proposal as "serious".
Spain, France, UK and many others said exactly the same thing, this proposal is by far the best solution available and the best way to reach an agreement without losers and winners.

We should never think about our victory only we should also think about the other party’s loss once we start doing this we can meet half way and to me this half way point starts with the autonomy, I hope that the Algerian generals care enough for the Sahrawis to let them be, let them free and let them live autonomous but in Morocco.

The thing I like about this proposal is the following article:
 This is by no means a unilateral decision, nor is it a rigid offer. It is rather an initiative which is open to all the other parties. The aim being to reach a realistic and practical compromise solution



 Author: Zak Ettamymy, born in Casablanca Morocco, graduated from American University, Columbia and NYU. writes articles pertaining to Morocco in terms of politics, economy and sports; with a specialty in the Sahara issue.
Zak Ettamymy is a member of the Transatlantic Institute for Policy and Progress a non profit organization that promotes Moroccan interests in the US. Zak Ettamymy has published a book called: Morocco Beyond the Legend.





Comments (23)  

0 #1 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedHmimarmad 2008-12-23 07:57
As the whole world know, Algeria is in no mood for anything (good or bad )that comes from Morocco. It is very obvious that the actual Algerian government will never accept Morocco extended hand to start a mutually beneficial relationship. I am not sure there will be any change 6 years after the expected third reign of Bouteflika. We are left with one thing and one thing only. To implement the autonomy without the Polisario. Waiting for the polisario is no different from waiting for Algeria.
The problem is that Morocco is also playing games by kissing up to Seychelles, Vanuatu, and Malawi. That is a totaly wrong approach, I would kiss up to the Sahraouis that are suffering in the hellish Tindouf camps.
Can someone please explain to me why the Moroccans are procrastinating the implementation of the autonomy?
The way to put pressure on the Polisario is to show the world that the Sahraouis can live in dignity in Morocco and they can govern themselves just like they do in the Catalan and Corsican regions.
Justin Anthony Knapp
0 #2 Actual autonomyJustin Anthony Knapp 2008-12-23 20:26
What some (many) Moroccan sympathizers don't seem to understand is that the Polisario - while advocating independence - is not opposed to autonomy but the unilateral imposition of autonomy. Morocco has repeatedly claimed that they will support a referendum in the territory and ostensibly end their illegal occupation once there is a result. In practice, of course, they have no intention of honoring any referendum in which there are genuine choices. If Morocco wants to present autonomy as an option, that is fine and well; the Polisario support that. Genuine autonomy would involve the right of the people to choose themselves and the pedantic and racist attitude from Rabat seems to think that they have a divine right to impose a non-solution to a crisis they created.
Amine Hussaini
0 #3 Lost in the CloudsAmine Hussaini 2008-12-26 02:36
First hand, you need to inform yourself about what you are talking about here. Just drop your deceiving masking you are lurking behind and show us your real identity Mr. Polisario; sorry Mr. Knapp.
The ancian and recent history is destemonial that the Sahara is Moroccan and the Sahraoui have their deep roots entrenched in the Moroccan ground.

GOD bless our country
Es leben Marokko

A proud Moroccan and American
0 #4 Not so fastKhalifornian 2008-12-26 03:51
For Himmarmad:
what is the point of having the autonomy and the opposing party is refusing it. Morocco is postponing the autonomy in the hopes that the opposing party would accept and return to Morocco to take advantage of it. Morocco is also following the UN's slow pace.

For Justin: let me get this straight: is the referendum a pre-requisite to any solution?

What many Polisario sympathizers such as yourself don't get is that the referendum is undoable. Morocco is refusing it simply because it doesn't include all the people of the Sahara and all the territory that is called Sahara. The former Spanish Sahara is not the only Sahara there is. It is only a portion of the Sahara. So if you're genuine about your concern for the right to self determination for the sahraouis, then you should talk about all the Sahraouis and their off springs and where they happen to be. To be fair to all the Saharouis, and you will get my support on this one, A Sahara republic should not only include the former Spanish Sahara, it must include the Algerian, Mauritanian, Egyptian, and other parts of Sahara as well. No one, not even the UN or the US is able to define who is eligible to vote and make that acceptable to both parties. The Moroccan list of voters is not acceptable to the other side and the other side's list of voters is not acceptable to the Moroccans. It's that simple. Hence the deadlock. The Sahara dispute is unlike any other dispute simply because the Sahara, geographically speaking, is a vast stretch and its people were never settlers, they were always on the move. Nomads. Topographically speaking, the Sahara does not let one erect cities where demographics and populations can be accounted for. This is in addition to the colonialism and wars that have contributed to the movement of many sahraouis to the bigger cities in the North. For instance, don't tell me there are no Saharouis in Algiers, as there are in Tunis, in Tetouan, Fes and all over the place. A sahraoui is in Mali today, he is in Mauritania tomorrow and he will be in Libya next week. The point is, one can never exactly pinpoint the citizens of the Sahara and their offspring with a scientific certainty in order to allow the referendum to proceed. Confused enough? that is the point. It's not doable. Bring something else. The referendum is not the only idea. Right now Morocco has submitted the Autonomy, other than the referendum, do you have anything you can propose that is doable?

0 #5 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedHmimarmad 2008-12-26 13:14
Like I keep saying we do not need the Polisario to accept the autonomy. We can implement the autonomy without them. Why wait for Algeria when we already know that they will never budge.
If we show the sahraouis that we are serious about our plan, they will eventually join us. The biggest problem we are facing besides Algeria is ourselves. We are never serious, we say things and we do something else.
A good example is the latest diplomats begging for the Spanish citizenship and getting it.
I have never heard such a thing. How can you respect a diplomat who is looking after himself instead of his country first. The sahraouis they see that and the Polisario thrive on it.
The reason the Polisario are winning the propaganda war is because our officials are incompetent, selfish, and useless.
Solving the sahara problem is not an easy task because we are facing Algeria's oil Money, and Money talks. We are relying on the rain, when we have drought, our GDP collapses. We are also relying on tourism, an incident like the May 16 event will destroy all efforts made so far.
Every now and then we hear about alleged terrorist arrests in Morocco. We may arrest 10 cells how about the 11th cell?
Said K
0 #6 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedSaid K 2008-12-27 03:56
Zak. I agree with yoiu that I like
""This is by no means a unilateral decision, nor is it a rigid offer. It is rather an initiative which is open to all the other parties. The aim being to reach a realistic and practical compromise solution""
this mean that this proposla is a starting point not a goal by itself...great vision.

I say: let start implmenting it now!
0 #7 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedKhalifornian 2008-12-27 05:01

Look, there is an internationally recognized dispute between two sides: Morocco and Polisario. Morocco came up with the autonomy so that BOTH sides can use it as a framework towards reaching a settlement. If, as you suggest, Morocco can proceed to do the Autonomy alone, then why did Morocco come up with the autonomy in the first place? The autonomy was proposed by Morocco so that there is no more contesting by Polisario or anyone.

Bottom line: Both parties, should they agree, will come to the table and sign a settlement, a treaty, whatever, around the proposed idea. If one side alone decides to proceed without its opposing party on board, then it will be regarded as a "fait accompli". And in that case, the international community will continue to print the map of Morocco without the Sahara attached to it, along with every political ramification that comes along with that.

I know I know, there are many Moroccans who say that, close meaning: "Morocco is in its Sahara and the Sahara is in its Morocco". Well yeah, sure, but, as Moroccans, it's very easy for us to say that. The challenge is to make non Moroccans believe and say that. The challenge is to come up with workable mechanisms that the world can agree with us on. The fait accompli will only reinforce Polisario and Algeria's message that we are occupiers, as if Morocco has just crossed the ocean to come occupy the Sahara from another continent.

BY The WAY, for our Polisario brothers reading, the Sahara is not the last colony in Africa. Ceuta and Melilla are the last colonies in Africa. You can go ahead and point that out to your buddies in South Africa who are so "keen" about ending colonialism in Africa.

Justin Anthony Knapp
0 #8 ReferendumJustin Anthony Knapp 2008-12-28 18:41
The referendum is a pre-requisite to any solution according to King Hassan II, his son for several years, the Polisario Front, the UN, and the party that matters the most: the Sahrawis. The arrogance of Morocco to impose a solution is indicative of the problem. The assumption that they can use force to steal another people's land and then litter it with land mines and declare a solution is outrageous. No one would ever accept this in Palestine.

You are correct that Morocco is intransigent, but your argument about including all of the peoples of the Sahara is complete nonsense - why would anyone do that? You are correct that the borders of Western Sahara are imposed by colonization. That is also true of every state in Africa except Liberia. Creating some kind of pan-Saharan referendum (on what exactly?) is an unmanageable and unnecessary impracticality. Again, to use the example of Israel, no one suggests that there should be a referendum of all Jews and Palestinian Arabs for Israeli policy.

You claim that the referendum is not doable; the same was said of Portuguese Timor. In point of fact, the parallels between the two territories are almost disturbing.

Regarding Ceuta and Melilla, your charge is nonsense: they have been an integral part of Spain for half a millennium and the local populations like it that way. If you want to hold a referendum in those cities asking them if the citizens want to belong to Spain or Morocco, they will overwhelmingly choose the former.
0 #9 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedZak 2008-12-29 02:44
you have found a democratic open and free forum "NONE EXISTANT IN TINDOUF BY THE WAY" and you showed your rage against Morocco, the reasons are beyond our knowledge but you must have a personal reason for this grudge, I ll explain:
You claim to believe that the "occupation of Morocco" should end
but you approve Spain;s occupation of two African cities in Morocco "I do not see any political wisdom here, I only see haltered to Morocco"
You play Israel's card for emotional support, none sense again, in 1948 there was no Israel on the map of the world there were 40 thousand jews in palestine and 1.7 million arabs...we have the opposite situation here.
If you attend a debate about the Sahara, do you really think that you can measure up? I doubt it because you have absolutely no knowledge of this conflict.
0 #10 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedKhalifornian 2008-12-29 03:31
Hey there,

There are no similarities between the Sahara and Portuguese Timor. However, there are huge similarities between the Sahara and Kurdistan. Timor does not span over several countries. The Sahara and Kurdistan do. That is why there will never be a Kurdish republic or a Sahara republic.
Speaking of Israel and the Palestinians, I know you’re trying to hit a sensitive nerve of a Trojan Horse at this time, but Moroccans, like many others, are well aware of the divide and conquer grand strategy that has been going on for centuries now. The Sahara issue is just a part of that grand strategy, as is Iraq and others. It is no surprise that Morocco and Iraq, the two historically richest Arab/Muslim countries, with Egypt in the middle, are being constantly weakened by westerners, who have always feared these three countries. There is a famous saying (or caveat if you will): If there are any troubles that will come from the green belt, it will come from these three countries”. Had it not been for conflicts such as the Sahara conflict, the Arabs and Muslims would not be getting their tails kicked every time. So please don’t bring the Israeli-Palesti nian issue. Because if you do, I will start talking to you about Algeria and how the Sahara war is simply a proxy extension of the war of sands that took place between Morocco and Algeria. Oh, by the way, for me, the Sahara war is indeed the war of Sands, with a cease fire between the two sides between 1963 and 1975 and another cease fire between 1991 and now. One must look at things in their bigger perspective.

If there is a Kurdish republic in the North of Iraq, as it is actually fiercely sought out and demanded by Iraqi Kurds, would that be fair to Iraq? How about if a referendum is held in Kurdish Iraq to determine if that area will continue or cease being part of Iraq? And how about asking non-Iraqi Kurds (Kurds from Turkey, Syria, Iran etc…) to vote for such referendum? Where is the fairness to Iraq’s territorial integrity? Is Iraq wrong for trying to hold onto its territory? Answering these questions will help you understand Morocco’s struggle to recuperate its territory that was, deliberately and as part of the divide and conquer stategy, occupied by two different powers. It is no coincidence that Both Spain and France occupied Morocco. They both occupied it so that if independence would come some day, it would not arrive spontaneously and for its entire territory.

Again, the only difference between the Sahara and Kurdistan is that there is no “Algeria” over there sustaining a separation movement for its own geo-territorial o-political gains at the expense of a neighboring country, as is the case in the Sahara. Otherwise the Sahara and Kurdistan are a carbon copy of each other. Never mind the half island called east Timor and its Christian inhabitants.

On a micro level now, there is a tribe called Rguibat in the Sahara. Composed of Rguibat Al gharbia (Western Rguibat in the Moroccan Sahara) and Rguibat Sharquia (Eastern Rguibat in Algeria). It’s the same tribe. They have always been the same tribe. Both are allowed to vote in the referendum. Why is it that only the territory of the Moroccan Rguibat is contested?. Since both are allowed to vote, shouldn’t the territory of the Algerian Rguibat be included as well? Do you see the injustice against Morocco? Do you see the parallelism with Kurdistan here? I am sure you can see it unless your mind is already made-up through another motivational mechanism.

Regarding Ceuta and Melilla, Morocco stayed in Spain much more than Spain has stayed in those two cities. And yes, people (Moors) were happy there, until Isabella kicked them out and replaced them with a new batch of people. Similarly, if we can evict the folks in Ceuta and Mellila and replace them with a Moroccan population, I am sure Morocco will win any referendum there. But don’t ask me to hold a referendum against Spain in a city full of Spaniards. I think that is a bit insulting. Alright?
A. Lahjouji
0 #11 Justin: positions or dialogue?A. Lahjouji 2008-12-29 04:10

I share these videos with you with the hope that your mind is able to take in new information to judge on its merit. If this is not the case, then this “exchange” is about positions – contrary to dialogue – which CANNOT promote mutual understanding and thus lead to resolutions.

These videos are but a tip of the iceberg.

With this in mind, it is a futile attempt to ask the Moroccan people to consider been divided, in any way, from the rest of their greater family. What the Algerian Military and leadership has done to our brothers/sister s from the southern states will take generations to heal, if possible.

The autonomy put out by the Moroccan Government pushes the patience of the Moroccan people to its absolute limit. There is not any wiggle room of any kind without risking a civil war.

The Moroccan Government has taken tremendous chance forcing their plan upon its people and this speaks volumes as to the commitment of the Moroccan government and people to PEACE.

The Algerian leadership/Mili tary has proven that they are no better than loose cannons. What they must understand that the Moroccan patience is at its end – any more push could undoubtedly result in full scale war, which will be disastrous for all involved.

I hope this is clear.
Justin Anthony Knapp
0 #12 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedJustin Anthony Knapp 2008-12-31 03:59

Morocco is occupying the Sahara and Spain is not occupying Ceuta and Melilla. The Sahara is not a part of Morocco, so having their troops there is an occupation. Ceuta and Melilla are an integral part of Spain and the only troops there are to guard their border.

Regardless of the demographics of Palestine 130 years ago, Moroccans seem to care about Palestine but they don\\\'t care about the Sahrawis. That is pretty scandalous to me.


There are no similarities between the Sahara and Portuguese Timor? That\\\'s odd, because Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta disagree

The Sahara desert spans several countries, but Western Sahara does not. I have no idea why you keep on mentioning this: no one is proposing a single state over the entirety of the Sahara. This idea is completely foreign and bizarre to me and equally irrelevant to this discussion.

I have no interest in your anti-Western conspiracy theories either - whether they are true or not is immaterial to the suffering of the Sahrawis and their inalienable right to self-determinat ion.

I agree that Algerian involvement is an extension of the Sand War (a conflict instigated by Morocco as a part of Istiqlal\\\'s Greater Morocco ideology that also includes their occupation of the Sahara), but that is also irrelevant. I don\\\'t see why you the other commentators even bring up how repressive and backwards Algeria is: that does nothing to take away the right of self-determinat ion for the Sahrawis. It\'s completely irrelevant to the fundamental issue at hand.

Your example about Kurdistan is another non sequitur, as Iraqi Kurdistan has always been a part of Iraq, whereas Spanish/Western Sahara was never a part of Morocco. In fact, this example gives strength to *my* argument: colonial borders have to be respected not because of how logical or just they are, but because of the bloodshed and chaos that would ensue if they were ignored. Every other African state understands this except Morocco; hence, they are not in the AU.

Your statement about Christians on Timor is also surprising and unsettling.

It is true that Moors were in Spain longer than Spaniards have been in the Maghreb, but that is irrelevant because the former happened before the latter. Spain was invaded and ruled for a long time by North Africans, and then Spain kicked out all of the Semites. It\\\'s a sad history, but one that is immaterial to the right of the Sahrawis to control their own destiny, or the Ceutans and Melillans. For some reason, you don\\\'t seem to care about the wishes of the persons living in these regions. Sahrawis want to be able to decide their fate and they don\\\'t want to be invaded. Ceutans and Melillans want to remain Spaniards. Is this totally irrelevant to you, or are you only concerned with maximizing the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco at any cost?

A. Lahjouji:
These videos are full of canards and a part of the thoroughly discredited Moroccan propaganda campaign against the Polisario Front. Human Rights Watch just published their report on the Sahara and the refugee camps and there is no substance to this idea that Sahrawis are trapped in the camps (they freely move into the Free Zone and Mauritania constantly) or that there is some collusion with Cuba. Cubans give some Sahrawis a free education and that is somehow supposed to be a bad thing. Children are not abducted and taken there and it is a privilege to go, since you can get an education and some food. Tell me who you trust more: some guy putting videos on YouTube or credible third-party intergovernment al organizations and advocacy groups?

What the Moroccan military and leadership has done to separate people from the Western Sahara will take generations to heal, if possible, but if you start reconciling now, it will be easier in the future. Furthermore, the bellicose language of Moroccans and their martyr-like patience is utter nonsense. You know who invaded the Sahara. The real tragedy is that it isn\'t even in the interests of the Moroccans. Morocco doesn\'t turn a profit from their occupation and all of the money that they have wasted could have been spent in Morocco alleviating the poverty there. Why is it that 90% of Sahrawis can read, but only 50% of Moroccans can?
0 #13 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedKhalifornian 2008-12-31 07:53
Hi Justin,

The Moroccan troops are in the Sahara because Morocco is being attacked. Why do you think Morocco built a berm? Let me guess your answer: \"to cruelly separate the Sahraouis from each other\", right? No sir, to stop the Algerian-enable d Polisario’s Mechanized Military from attacking us. Of course there are no Spanish troops in Ceuta and Melilla. But the moment a few Moroccan gendarmes (I think they were eight) crossed to a rock that is about one hundred meters from Morocco’s coast, an entire Spanish battle group led by an aircraft carrier moved in and forcefully removed the eight Moroccan gendarmes. The point is, you will see a lot of Spanish military presence if Morocco begins attacking Ceuta and Melilla. Inversely, you will not see any Moroccan military in the Sahara once Algeria stops attacking Morocco through Polisario.

There is a huge desert in Africa called the Sahara. If I understand your nomenclature correctly, Morocco has the Sahara and everyone else has the Sahara desert, am I right? Hence, based on your choice of words, when one speaks of the Sahara, one automatically implies the Spanish Sahara ONLY. The rest we can call it the Sahara desert, as if the Spanish Sahara is not a desert?

The Spanish Sahara was never a part of Morocco? Wow! Alright then, whose control was the Spanish Sahara under before the Spanish came and took it? Polisario? RASD? Russia? May be it was under the control of East Timor? It had to be under the jurisdiction of somebody. Well who was it? Or was it just a no-man’s land? Or may be the Spaniards, one day, told themselves: “heyy look, there is a vacant stretch of land that is under the control of no one, just south of Morocco, let’s just get down there and grab it guys”. I see now, that’s probably what happened.

I have been a pro Moroccan Sahara for decades now, and I do this out of shear conviction and certitude of my country’s cause. I am convinced that Morocco was and is still subject to a tremendous unfairness and injustice.

But what about you? What motivates you? How could you support the self-determinat ion of the Sahraouis and be unsympathetic to the self determination of the Kurds. After all, some Kurds want a republic just as badly as some Sahraouis do. If you are a supporter of the self determination concept and the rights of peoples to be free and have their own countries, you should support all of the peoples’ rights to the self determination and condemn every country for defending its territorial integrity. Not doing that implies that you have mercenary stakes in the Sahara issue, assuming you are neither a Polisario member nor an algerian.

Giving you the benefit of the doubt, it really breaks my heart when I see a westerner like you going out of his or her way to defend Arabs and Muslims. So it breaks my heart to see you defending a handful of Muslim Arabs who want to steal a piece of land twice the size of New York State from its rightfull and ancient owner, the country of Morocco, which boasts some forty million plus population and a documented history of thousands of years. Since when did the west care about the wellbeing and the welfare of Arabs and Muslims? It\'s rather the opposite: SIR, the west sees the arabs and muslims as a threat, especially the south Europeans. So when you see a westerner caring for Polisario, you should know that he or she is merely trying to keep the area divided and thus weaker, and a historically rich and a geographically well positioned country like Morocco under the boot. What better way to guarrantee that Morocco reamains weaker than to divide? Isn\'t this this the promise European colonialism came to Morocco in the first place? Isn\'t this why Morocco had the misfortune of having two european occupiers?

So you see, you can not extract the Sahara dispute from the gloabl context of divide and conquer. Instead, The Sahara Conflict is a classic case study of divide and conquer. It can be used to show the dynamics of this unproductive and destructive policy.

Again, I don’t think you speak out of convictions, rather I think you are commissioned. If your intentions are halal and kosher and you really care about our region (I am dreaming here, ok?), you should be looking for some way to unite the area which will soon have a population of 100 million people to feed, house and employ. Morocco is offering the Sahraouis every right that every Moroccan has. In fact Morocco is offering the sahraouis not just the Sahara, but the entire Morocco.

It would be fascinating to see how our region would be if Algeria would deploy its marketing skills and resources towards a productive endeavor instead of going in sync with the divide and conquer game, which happens to coincide with Algeria\'s vast territory.

Think about it if you could

0 #14 Moroccan resolve3bika 2008-12-31 12:18

I read your comments with great sense of amusement. To sum up my response (not reaction) you need help, badly!

Your rage comes out loud and clear and your reactions are just that: reactions based on unsubstantiated angry claims that defy reason. Oddly enough, your idea of formulating an argument against a particular point is denial or as you so eloquently like to call it “nonsense.” Well, to use the language that you seem to understand better, we are yet to see something from you that ISN’T delusional and utter nonsense.

As for the videos, soak in your denial all you want -- the evidence is overwhelming. In fact, there is a plethora of evidence corroborated by several independent sources as the role that Algeria and Cuba played in fueling this conflict.

If there is one thing that you must remember and make remember and pass on to your terrorist buddies is that Moroccans (government & people) will fight to the bitter end, at any cost, to keep their country whole and safe.

You have a lot to learn about Moroccan resolve.
Justin Anthony Knapp
0 #15 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedJustin Anthony Knapp 2008-12-31 12:34
Morocco is being attacked? By whom? They invaded the Sahara without any provocation. The Polisario never had any intention on invading Morocco, and even if they did, do 200,000 Sahrawi nomads really represent such a threat to 32 million Moroccans? The conflict was started by Morocco and Mauritania, not the Sahrawis. You claim that \"you will not see any Moroccan military in the Sahara once Algeria stops attacking Morocco through Polisario,\" but that is the case now - there has been a ceasefire for almost 20 years, but the Sahara is still occupied and littered with land mines. None of your claims has any basis in reality.

I suppose I may have been unclear before, but let me clarify: if I use the term \"the Sahara\" in this conversation, it is in reference to the territory of Spanish/Western Sahara. I thought that was understood, but I apologize if I have made things unclear.

Yes, Spanish/Western Sahara was never a part of Morocco. I can give you three proofs for why I make this assertion: 1.) if you look at any map of North Africa or the Maghreb directly prior to colonization, what constituted Morocco ends at the Sahara desert. There was no Moroccan administration of that territory or its population that became Spanish/Western Sahara. If you want to know who was there or who ruled it, as you are aware, it was a sparsely-popula ted nomadic society ruled by tribal and factional leaders with no unitary government of any kind, certainly not the Sultan of Morocco. 2.) Several historical documents between Morocco and European powers explicitly say that the Saharan coast was territory that Morocco did not control. I\'ll give you two examples:

Marrakesh Treaty (May 28, 1767) - Spain and Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah of Morocco discussed the safety of Canarians fishing and landing along the coast, and relevant portions read:
\"His Imperial Majesty warns the inhabitants of the Canaries against any fishing expedition to the coasts of Oued Noun and beyond. He disclaims any responsibility for the way they may be treated by the Arabs of the country, to whom it is difficult to apply decisions, since they have no fixed residence, travel as they wish and pitch their tents where they choose. The inhabitants of the Canaries are certain to be maltreated by those Arabs... His Imperial majesty refrains from expressing an opinion with regard to the trading post which His Catholic Majesty wishes to establish to the south of the River Noun, since he can not take responsibility for accidents and misfortunes, because sus dominios (domination) does not extend so far.\"
In a letter to Carlos III, the sultan wrote:
\"[Arabs of the coast of Oued Noun] are not subordinate to nor fearful of anyone, because they are greatly separated from my dominions and I do not have power over them ... These Arabs have no fixed abode and move around as it pleases them without submitting to government or any authority.\"

Meknes Treaty (May 1, 1799): Sultan Sidi Moulay Souleiman of Morocco and Spain exchanged words about downed ships in Oued Noun again, this time reading:
\"If any Spanish ship is shipwrecked in the Oued Noun and its coast, where His Moroccan Majesty does not exercise dominion, he offers nonetheless, to prove how much he appreciates the friendship of His Catholic Majesty, to avail himself of the most opportune and effective measures to extract and free the seamen and other individuals who have the misfortune to fall into the hands of the natives there.\"

And Oued Noun is actually a part of Morocco now. If they didn\'t control what is a part of their proper territory, it is inconceivable that they administered the populations beyond their borders.

3.) The finding of the International Court of Justice made it explicitly clear that there were no ties of territorial sovereignty between Morocco and the Saharwi/Saharan tribes. None. And if there was any compelling evidence to the contrary (the court took into account the two treaties that I mentioned above), then they would have found otherwise. This wasn\'t what Mauritania and Morocco wanted to hear, so they invaded the Sahara anyway (again, without any provocation - the Sahrawis have never claimed Morocco.)

You want to know what motivates me and it\'s justice. I have no idea why you think I don\'t support the Kurds but I could turn the same question around on you if I wanted: how could you support the self-determinat ion of the Palestinians and be unsympathetic to the self determination of the Sahrawis. Obviously, there are exigencies that makes some cases stronger than others. As I\'ve already written before, colonial borders have to be respected - not because they are themselves logical or just, but because of the chaos and bloodshed that would result in violating them. Again, every else seems to understand this other than Morocco. The fact that you assert that I must be some mercenary or crypto-Algerian shows how paranoid and conspiratorial Moroccans are about the Sahara: *no one cares about destroying Morocco.* No one. Not even mean, nasty Algeria. I am motivated by the sheer human suffering of the Sahrawis which was instigated by Mauritania and Morocco. That\'s it. And if you really cared about Morocco (regardless of whether or not you care about the Sahrawis), you would want Morocco to stop wasting so much time and money and international good will on occupying someone else\'s land. Morocco is not weaker by giving up the Sahara - it would be much stronger. That is the scandal of the Moroccan propaganda machine: it only serves the monarchy, not the people.

Frankly, I am also completely uninterested in whether or not the Sahara is integrated into Morocco: my concern is that the people of that land have to choose it themselves in a free and fair referendum. If Moroccan integration is such a great idea, then they will choose it of their own accord. My preference is for their independence, but my purpose is not ideological, but humanitarian. Regardless of what the Sahrawis want, it should be there choice with neither myself nor the Moroccans dictating to them what they have to do. As a matter of fact, if Mauritania, one-third of Algeria, northwestern Mali, Ceutans and Melillans, and the people of St.-Louis-de-Se negal want to be a part of Morocco, that is fine by me, but they shouldn't be forced to pay fealty to the monarchy through war and intimidation.
Justin Anthony Knapp
0 #16 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedJustin Anthony Knapp 2008-12-31 20:01
3bika, you provide no evidence for your claims, whereas I do. That itself speaks volumes.
if Western Sahara should gain independence, I would not be surprised if they engaged in a campaign of genocide like the Indonesians did leaving East Timor. That is not news to me.
0 #17 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedKhalifornian 2009-01-01 08:54
Happy new Year everyone.

Justin, you're wasting your time. Consider,

It’s true that the Sahara was never directly administered as it is now. But then again, who in all the countries that have a Sahara controlled all of its Sahara? The reason is simple: the Sahara area was vast and the population was extremely small to warrant the presence of an administration. Not to mention there were no borders and the people living there were always nomadic, as I told you before. Nonetheless, in the case of Morocco, the Sahara tribes and their chiefs, have always, ALWAYS, presented allegiance to the Sultan. Just recently in French Algeria, the citizens of Tindouf were shouting in the streets: “Yes to Algeria’s independence but we’re Moroccans”. Of course the Algerians will never let you hear that.

Similarly, the Moroccan central government was never able to control its mountains: Are you familiar with the word CIBA? The mountains were never totally administered by the central government until the thirties. Does that give you the right to come and declare that Morocco should leave the Moroccan Mountains? You probably know that there was a republic in the Rif Mountains in the 20s’ that successfully operated for five years, stemming from the Spanish occupation of the Rif Mountains.

Again you break my heart for trying to bring justice to the Sahraouis.

Ok fine! Let’s all be just and have a referendum in the Sahara. But don't be half just now. Let's be just all the way or don't eeven bother. The referendum can only be, justly, done based on a determination of the identities, as illustrated in the following example:

You like to give the east Timor example as a template that has worked, Let me give you another example that has worked also and which we can use in the Sahara as a template as well. So here it is:

In the city of Los Angeles, there was a separation movement in the 90s and this decade, which had sought to separate the San Fernando Valley from Los Angeles. The separatists and many residents of the San Fernando Valley wanted to separate San Fernando from Los Angeles and create their own city. There was so much controversy and haggle at all levels: courts, California State senate, mayor’s office, federal government, lobbies, lawyers, grassroots groups, civic and citizen mobilizations, the whole gamut.

Eventually everyone agreed that, since the issue is controversial (just like the Sahara) and since the city of Los Angeles has equal rights to the valley (just like Morocco with regards to the Sahara), it was agreed that ALL the citizens of Los Angeles have to vote. Everyone got to exercise their self determination right and territorial right. And everyone was subjected to their self determination RESPONSIBILITY, not just their self determination RIGHT. Again, everyone voted and the separatists lost.

So yeah, I am all for the referendum and I like self-determinat ion just as much as the next guy. Since Morocco has rights in the Sahara as well, it makes sense that all Moroccans have to vote. If the Moroccans decide that they don’t want the Sahara, then I have to respect that. But don’t force a half-a$$ referendum on me and tell me you’re for justice and rights. What about my rights as a Moroccan? what about the rights of forty to forty five million Moroccans? What about the injustice that I and my fellow Moroccans have been subject to since Queen Isabella mandated its divide and conquer project?

Otherwise, the referendum is DEAD. And I guarantee you that it would take a military invasion and occupation by a superpower, reminiscent of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, to take the Sahara from Morocco, at which point everything will hit the fan.

Based on these two points: (1) No referendum and (2) Morocco is not giving up more of its soil than it already gave up: what is the solution then? That’s what you should focus on if you were free of any political constraints that compel you to be against Morocco at all costs, and only Justice and rights as a currency and tokens to arrive at your agenda and the agenda of your comandeers.

The venomous bitterness you hold against Morocco can only be explained by the fact that you are a direct stakeholder in the Sahara affair. Accusing Morocco of genocide that could potentially happen in the future is a forensic indication of the grudge you have against Morocco. Consequently, it would be impossible for you to possess and present an assessment that is neither contaminated nor corrupted. To extrapolate, you would be perfectly happy if Morocco ceased to exist and disappeared from the face of the earth. You remind me of Bouteflika’s recent statement “we want only good for Morocco”. Talk about hypocrisy on steroids. Aside from void adjectives and expressions, I have not seen any depth in your arguments, neither in the form nor in the content. You couldn’t even defend your failure to support a self determination for the Kurds.

And yes, east Timor inhabitants are Christians and look at your response to that. If you were able to read between the lines, you could have deduced on your own that Muslim Indonesians would not be compatible with the Christian folks in east Timor.

First, Religion was by far the most important decision that had influenced Indonesia’s decision to give them that portion of the island. Why do you suppose there is an Israeli-Palesti nian war? RELIGION. Do you think there would be a conflict there if all the Palestinians were Jews or vice versa? By contrast, Morocco and the Polisario are all Muslims. So the most ardent factor for which separation would logically occur, religion, does not exist in the Sahara conflict. Everyone is Muslim, ok?

Second, Indonesia’s decision about east Timor was influenced by the size of east Timor itself: 14,609 km square. We’re not making a big fuss about Ceuta and Mellila because the area involved is small. Same thing can be said about Spain vis-à-vis Gibraltar. Spain is not rocking the boat on that because the area is small. However, the Sahara is an area of 266,000 km square. Can you grasp the difference? Do you think Indonesia would have given up that much territory for east Timor? Do you think Spain would be quiet if the British were controlling that much territory of Spain? Do you think Morocco would be silent if Spain was still controlling that much area in Morocco? Do you dig my point?

Third, another factor weighing on Indonesia’s decision is the size of the population of east Timor. Close to a million inhabitants (947,000 per Google), whereas in the Sahara, we have about 50,000 in the camps of Tindouf, Algeria. Recall that Algeria has never authorized a full census of the population in the camps. Add to that another 50 to 100 thousand Sahraouis in the Moroccan Sahara. In all, we’re talking about 150,000. It’s impossible that all these people would be unanimously pro-separation. Let’s say for the sake of the argument that they’re 50-50. That would reduce the population to 75,000. Please don’t try to inflate the number because I did not include the Sahraouis that lived in Morocco for centuries and their off springs, which have every right to be called Sahraouis.

Note that Arabs in Morocco are still called Arabs because they came to Morocco as Arabs many centuries ago. They are Moroccans but they are Arabs. They never lost their Arab identity. So why shouldn’t the Sahraouis who have moved to northern Morocco still be called Sahraouis? They are Moroccans of course, but they are Moroccan Sahraouis. As such, they have every right to vote in the referendum as any other Sahraoui. Alright?

Fourth, another difference between the Sahara and East Timor was the fact that when the Portuguese left in 1975, East Timor has already established itself as a country there before Indonesia came in. Indonesia DID not evict the Portuguese. Indonesia waited several months after the Portuguese left and then invaded East Timor. In the case of the Sahara, when the civilian Moroccans marched there, the Spaniards were still in the Sahara. In fact, low flying Spanish fighter jets were flying over the heads of Moroccan marchers in vain attempts to intimidate and scare them off. IT DID NOT WORK. The marchers crossed anyway, and the Spaniards packed their belongings and left. THIS DID NOT OCCUR IN EAST TIMOR.

Fifth, an additional difference between east Timor and the Sahara is that Morocco signed the Madrid agreement, with the real colonizer: SPAIN. There is no such thing as as the LISBON agreement whereas Indonesia signed an agreement with Portugal, the European colonizer responsible for the mess in the first place.

Hence, the analogy between East Timor and the Sahara is an illusion which one can be expected to crumble under its own weight as soon as you try to make stand, because it’s without foundation.

At some point, you and your cohorts must come to the realization that the Sahara is the territorial continuity of Morocco, just like Chechnya is for Russia, Corsica for France, Basque for Spain, Hong Kong and Tibet for China, Ireland for the United Kingdom, Kurdistan for Turkey, Hawaii and Texas for the United States, Gibraltar for Spain, Kashmir for India and many other territorial disputes.

0 #18 COMMENT_TITLE_R E The Moroccan Sahara Autonomy ExplainedHmimarmad 2009-01-02 04:08
The US annexed Texas, don't you think that the people of Mexico should have a say?

Of course, your answer is already known.
"That's irrelevant."

Like many of your kind, you embraced the wrong cause to entertain your free time.

When you think that Algeria is irrelevant in the suffering the Sahraouis then you made yourself sound ignorant of the cause that you are so committed to.
When you think that the Polisario is not instrumented by the Algerian Generals then you sound silly.

You can go on and tell us everything you read in books and online, but you can never feel what an Algerian, Moroccan, a Sahraoui feels about the conflict. The conflict is deeper than what's written.
Remember that the super intelligence of the world got it wrong when they thought that American troupes will be received with youyous and joy. They never predicted what an Iraqi has felt. 5 years later "The Mission is not accomplished"
Of course in you lingo, that's irrelevant.

The problem of Sahara will only get solved when Algeria decides that it is time to open the gates of Tindouf and that will never happen in our life time.
0 #19 Moroccan Sahara until the eterniteabdellah 2009-01-29 01:41
we want to tell the Polisario mercenaries of your future and in the Moroccan national integrity, we maroc Moroccan or Moroccan americains we speak the same voice.

Moroccan Sahara until the eternite
brahim mokhtar
0 #20 or more likelybrahim mokhtar 2009-02-04 21:26
The problem of Sahara will only get solved when Algeria decides that it is time to open the gates of Tindouf and that will never happen in our life time.
Or more likely...when Morocco stops blocking the REFERENDUM!!
0 #21 hioholooll 2009-04-14 16:08
all i can say...Algeria Generals care about some nomades and punish their own people every day..
0 #22 MaghrebiMR 2009-08-11 03:08
The root of the problems is geopolitical, in Lehman terms, Algeria needs an opening to the Atlantic ocean, to further strengthen their trading partners and facilitate the export of Algerian gas to the west African nations.
some anonymous person
0 #23 confusedsome anonymous person 2011-06-14 01:07
what are you people talking about? could someone explain the issue and controversy to me?

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