Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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.

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