Monday, April 30, 2007

Happiness is everywhere ! seems that everybody is happy with the Security Council Resolution 1754. The Polisario Front declared its victory because the resoultion didn't consider the Moroccan proposal as the only solution to the conflict. Morocco is also declaring victory because the Security Council no longer refers to the Baker plan and because it has positively designated its Autonomy Initiative. Finally, Algeria, the I-am-not-so-concerned-but-concerned party is also happy !
Let's just assume that the spirit of happiness will last during the expected negotiations and that it will result in a...happy end.

Security Council Resolution 1754 (2007)

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,

“Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy,

“Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect,

“Reiterating its call upon the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with each other to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution,

“Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented on 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,

“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 13 April 2007 (S/2007/202),

“1. Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire;

“2. Calls upon the parties to enter into negotiations without preconditions in good faith, taking into account the developments of the last months, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara;

“3. Requests the Secretary-General to set up these negotiations under his auspices and invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to such talks;

“4. Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report by 30 June 2007 on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, and expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss this report;

“5. Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara before the end of the mandate period;

“6. Calls on Member States to consider voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures that allow for increased contact between separated family members, especially family unification visits;

“7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including pre-deployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;

“8. Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2007;

“9. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Western Sahara is hot subject at the U.S Congress

After weeks of intense lobbying from Morocco, Polisario, and their respective allies, Representatives have sent two different letters to the President. The first one calls for a referendum and considers the Autonomy plan as a violation of International law. 45 congressmen signed it. The second letter calls for the support of the Autonomy plan considering it a historic opportunity to solve the conflict. According to will (I don't have the will to count), 180 congressmen signed that one.
I am not sure if the letters are still being signed, but it seems that pretty much it with signatures. I think these two letters show that the Western Sahara conflict is not a forgotten case in the American Congress and that there are people who care about the issue. However, the second (or maybe the real) significance of the letters is the demonstration of force. Unfortunately, an important point wen't missing in both documents : a call to bring the involved parties to negotiate.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Arab perspective of the Western Sahara

It seems that the Western Sahara issue is not a popular subject in the Arab medias. However, I found this article in Asharq alawst that demonstrates a point of view about the conflict. The newspaper presents itself as the leading arabic international daily.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Memoriam

picture courtesy of

War is easy...when you aren't fighting it.

In 1988, the year PANAM flight exploded over Lockerbie, two USAID contractors’ airplanes on their way from Senegal to Morocco were hit by SAM missiles launched by Polisario fighters. One aircraft crashed and all its American crew and passengers died. The second plane was able to land later safely in Morocco. The civilian aircrafts were doing anti-locusts work as part of a US disaster assistance to Africa following an important locust outbreak in the continent. Later, Polisario Front apologized for the mistake...

Why this introduction? I have always been opposed to easy declarations and calls for war in the Western Sahara. Since the ceasefire, the two parties stopped the fighting and it should last. War will bring mistakes: houses will end up being bombed, civilians will also die, urban terrorism may show up. There is no doubt about it. It's easy to threaten to return to the war from comfortable offices in Washington, London, or Algiers, but it's the people on the ground who are going to suffer from it. Deaths from both sides, more suffering to the refugees, and waste of much needed money in weapons purchases.

The thing is, if the fighting starts again, it's very improbable that Polisario fighters will be able to take over any territory from the large Moroccan Army. I hope the new U.N Secretary General will be able to bring the two parties to the negotiation table and dump the threats of war.