Tuesday, November 07, 2006

La Guerra Olvidada : when Moroccans and Sahrawis were fighting together


The scene is happening at the end of the 1950's. Troupes from the recently independent Morocco joined by sahrawi tribes are fighting the Spanish in the region of Ifni. Ifni was the residence of the General Governor of the Western Sahara territory. The forces made a series of incursions and even sieged the city of Ifni; however, the spanish army was later able to counter the offensive by use of airplanes and warships, weapons that their opponent didn't have.
Can we learn something from History ?
P.S: English and Spanish articles about La Guerra Olvidada in Wikipedia.
Picture link courtesy of star-firearms.com

19 Comments:

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At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is perfectly true that Morocans and sahraouis have led a war against the spanish army during early fifties, they have fought together because they both knew at that time that Western sahara was and still is part of the Kingdom of Morocco
funny enough one of the fighters was the father of the leader of the Polisario , and even now although some Sahraouis have chosen to lead the battle of separatism against Morocco, but to my mind the majority of Sahraouis have made up their minds that the reunion with the motherland should be the only practical alternative, in order to put an end to over 30 years of conflict, so the majority of sahraouis are still fighting for the reunion of southern provinces against the wish of a minority of seperatists and the constant and non -stop interference of the neighbouring country Algeeria

 
At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it a shift in the Algerian policy on the Western Sahara issue?"


By : Terry Batcher


The observers who are following closely the Sahara issue have expressed their surprise to the content of the recent letter sent by the Algerian president bouteflika to the leader of Polisario front or the president of the so-called sahraoui state following the end of Ramadan and the celebration of Al - Aid

The content of a such a short letter is seen by observers as a change of tactics or possibly a strategy of the Algerian president, I fact this is almost the first time that the Algerian president avoided to mention terms and sentences such as: the right of Sahraoui people for a self-determination, the western Sahara colonized by Morocco, the Algerian position to support the United Nations attempts to decolonize Western Sahara.

Such a substantial change in the spirit of the short letter of Mr Bouteflika has created an argument within observers and even policy makers in the North African countries. Although it is not advisable to come to any conclusion whether Algeria is about to change its foreign policy towards the Sahara conflict or not, it is worth mentioning that Algeria was and still is under a lot of pressure from the international community to moderate its position and pave the way to the UN security council , and the UN general secretary’s envoy to the area to create a positive atmosphere aiming at searching a political settlement based in principle on the Moroccan proposal to grant sahraouis a substantial autonomy . This pressure comes as result of the UN officials’ decision to give a political solution a chance, as the war and different attempts to organize referenda have failed for various reasons.




It becomes obvious that the international community wants to see the end of this conflict very soon , throughout the last three decades or so Polisario front lead a war against the Moroccan army which led to a ceasefire, and Polisario gained nothing out of this guerrilla war, then the UN former envoy James baker came up with two suggestions to organize referendum which faced a refusal by Algeria , Polisario and even Morocco , this failure led to the resignation of the American diplomat , and the conclusion that such referendum is difficult to organize if not impossible .
Although both Algeria and Polisario front refused the Moroccan proposal it was in no doubt supported by a large number of countries all over the world, among others the USA ,France, and Spain which openly congratulated Morocco for proposing and submitting a courageous and project entitled "Moroccan initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara region" whereas the Polisario proposal as the UN's secretary general former personal envoy for Sahara, Peter Van Walsum described it «it is consistent With Polisario well known positions" he added that self- determination does not have to mean independence. There are many examples in the world where concerned populations chose, following referendum consultations or other, autonomy or total integration».
It is too early to even predict that there is a shift in the Algerian foreign policy towards the Sahara dispute, but undoubtedly there is a change of political vocabulary , which makes some observers see President Bouteflica’s letter as a start for a new Algerian outlook to the Sahara conflict, particularly that the Algerian diplomacy have lost recently a number of diplomatic battles in terms of W Sahara conflict and the UN officials especially the former general secretary Kofi Anan mentioned in an unprecedented way the extent of the involvement of Algeria not only in the conflict but also in the decision making on behalf of polisario .

 
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