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Increased international pressure on the occupation of Western Sahara

By Kamal Fadel - posted Thursday, 5 February 2004


On 30 January 2004, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1523 (2004), extending the mandate of the UN mission (MINURSO) until 30th of April, to give Morocco more time to respond to the latest peace plan for Western Sahara.

By adopting such a resolution the Council is sending a strong message to Morocco that its attempts to change the UN Peace Plan in its favour are not acceptable and that its delaying tactics are in vain. Gone is the usual diplomatic language of requesting “the two parties” to co-operate which Morocco enjoyed for so long. Now the UN is stating clearly that it is Morocco who continues to defy the international consensus.

After 13 years of delays and machinations, the Moroccan regime has at long last lost its mask and its ugly face is revealed to all including the UN Security Council. The ball is in Morocco’s court.

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January has been a rather bad month for the Moroccan regime. Three significant events occurred this month, which are setbacks for the regime in Rabat.

The first of these events is the release of 12 Saharawi political detainees from Moroccan jails as a result of an effective international campaign on their behalf coupled with the resistance from inside the occupied areas and more importantly the defiance of the detainees themselves.

The release of Saharawi detainees is an example of the failure of the Moroccan regime to crush the Saharawi resistance in the occupied areas of Western Sahara. It is also an indication that the regime is weak and is not able to withstand pressure.

The second important event is the announcement of the exchange of family visits of Saharawis separated by war, occupation and the sand wall erected by Morocco. The visits will be sponsored by the UNHCR and are part of the so-called confidence-building measures, which the UN has been requesting Morocco to accept for a long time.

The visits will shatter the myths and lies perpetuated by the regime that Saharawis who fled Western Sahara and live in the refugee camps are “hostages”, not allowed to travel, held against their will and that they would love to regain the occupied territories. If such allegations were true, the Polisario Front would not have agreed to the visits in the first place – particularly when Morocco rejected them. Furthermore, it is Morocco that still refuses the return of refugees and the referendum of self-determination, the ultimate proof of Saharawis’ loyalty and the only democratic test of what the Saharawi people want.

The third significant event and another debacle for the Moroccan regime is the latest UN Security Council resolution, which once again reaffirmed the determination of the UN and the international community to implement the peace process that is based on the organisation of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara.

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Moroccan officials undertook a huge diplomatic circus during the past year in which the King himself took part. They toured every corner of the world and tried to play their tricks in order to convince the UN to change the latest peace plan for Western Sahara and accept the Moroccan illegal occupation, but they ultimately failed. Baker is reported not impressed by the Moroccan dismal performance and the international community refused to be taken in by their lies.

If recent events were not enough, more bad news is in store for the Moroccan regime. The Saharawi resistance inside the occupied territories will continue and increase. The Saharawi families will be reunited after 28 years of suffering, war and exile. They will share stories of resistance and hope for a better future in an independent Western Sahara. This is likely to boost the defiance of Saharawis inside the occupied areas who suffer from oppression under Moroccan rule. In addition, the UN Security Council will once again revisit the Saharawi cause during the next few months, which will place more pressure on Morocco.

What this means is that the Moroccan regime cannot stand the tremendous pressure that is being put on it. Its days in Western Sahara are indeed numbered. What is needed is more resistance and patience from the Saharawi people. What is also vital is the increase in international solidarity with the Saharawi cause.

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About the Author

Kamal Fadel is the Polisario Representative to Australia. He has been in the Polisario Front foreign relations corps since 1986 and has served in India, Iran and the UK, as a Saharawi diplomat.

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