|Western Sahara: Reason Or Treason
Growing up in Morocco, Western Sahara being Moroccan was presented to me as an absolute truth; as absolute as that the sun rises every day. The main and prevalent argument presented was that the Sahara has always been part of Morocco. At home in Morocco, no proof was required as this viewpoint was self evident. You could not question that in any way. Doing so is tantamount to treason. Being inquisitive, I set out on a journey to get to my own conclusions on this topic.
As Mustapha’s father continues his struggle to free his son from an undisclosed Algerian jail, the world needs to know the true reasons behind the arrest and the detention of the former Police chief of the Polisario front. While the Moroccan and the world press keep referring to Mr. Ould Sidi Mouloud pro-Moroccan position as the reason behind his arrest by the Polisario militias on orders from the Algerian Military Intelligence Agency (DRS), the significance of Mr. Mustapha’s support of the Moroccan plan is much deeper and far reaching.
Since its creation, the Polisario Front has been ruled by a handful of military Militiamen that took orders from a special unit of the DRS (or its predecessors). Most of the refugees, who have been living under inhumane condition in desert camps, never challenged the Polisario elders or the Algerian control over their affairs. The early military success of the Polisario solidified the militias control over the refugees extending Algeria’s absolute domination in the camps. With promises of an independent socialist Sahrawi republic where all is equal, the Algerian public relations campaign in the Tindouf camps worked for more than 30 years. The few Sahrawi Tribal leaders who baked the Polisario and went to exile in Algeria believed that the “armed struggle” against Morocco would be brief, and the Algerian and Libyan ( an early supporter of the Polisario) support will be strong and unwavering.
Three decades later, Mustapha forced the DRS to drop the mask and the Sahrawis of Tindouf were at last exposed to the truth and realities behind Algeria’s empty promises: the Algerian Military establishment is out for Algeria’s military interest and the Sahrawis are just a pawn in Algeria game against its Moroccan foes.
The Algerians are worried that the arrest and illegal detention of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud will expose to the world and the United Nations the true influence of the DRS on the Polisario, and the weak and non-existent direction of the current leadership of the Polisario. As the United Nations (UN) special envoy for Western Sahara heads to the region next week ahead of a new round of informal meetings, the case of the prisoner of conscience Ould Sidi Mouloud should dominate the discussion. If Algeria insists in portraying ts role as an observer in the meetings, then how can the Algerian government explain their involvement and role in the imprisonment of a Polisario dissident for expressing his views on the future of the Western Sahara?
It is becoming clear to Mr. Christopher Ross and the world community that the Algerian Army controls the decision making process in Tindouf; therefore a UN sponsored round of meetings over the future of the Sahara that does not include Algeria as a major and a direct player is futile and pointless. In taking the lead in muzzling the freedom of speech involving the discussion over the future of the Sahara, Algeria makes its standpoint the key to the resolution to this horrid conflict.
Mr. Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud position on making the Moroccan plan of Local Autonomy as the basis of a resolution is shared by tribal leaders and a number of young Sahrawis. Sahrawi refugees are tired of living in appalling conditions in Tindouf with no chance of ever fleeing the misery of a refugee life. The truth that these proud Sahrawis have been held hostage to Algeria’s regional political calculations is pushing thousands to take on the dangerous trek toward morocco.
Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud brave stands against the dictate of the DRS further exposed the weak leadership of the current Polisario chief Abdelaziz. Mr. Ould Sidi Mouloud wants a better life for his son and his family just like any father in the world. This desire pushed his to show the incompetence of Abdelaziz and the true motives of the Algerian Army.
As more and more Sahrawis, realize the sinister motives of the Algerian Army and the reluctance of their puppet leadership to stand for what is good for the Sahrawis, it will be hard for the DRS to keep the lid on the discontent in Tindouf. It is time for Mr. Ross and the UN to come to this conclusion for the sake of Ould Sidi Mouloud and his likes. For now, let us pray that Mr. Ross can convince Algiers to free Ould Sidi Mouloud as a gesture of good will toward the Sahrawis of Tindouf.
Author: Hassan Masiky graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in political science. Hassan joined the Washington DC based non government organization the Parliamentary Human Rights Foundation (PHRF) where he worked as a consultant for USAID democracy projects in Mexico, Haiti, Republic of Georgia and the European Parliament. After leaving PHRF, Hassan dedicated his time advising Amnesty International USA on African and Middle Eastern affairs and representing the organization in press conferences. Mr. Masiky was a host on several television shows discussing human rights and democracy.