An alternative view of autonomy

So, two posts in one day. This one is to flag an article on the Western Sahara Info blog that provides a refreshingly sceptical take on Morocco’s “autonomy plan”, in which those living under Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara are to be able to choose whether they want total integration into Morocco or a limited amount of self-governance (but not independence). The article is titled “Why autonomy plus torture equals failure“, and points out a few flaws in the Moroccan plan to create what Morocco is selling as a brave new reality in which the indigenous Sahrawi can live in dignity in the land of their birth.

Reading reports of clashes between pro-independence Sahrawi and Moroccan citizens and police, it appears that the Moroccan nationalists and security forces involved in these disturbances have been getting torture tips by watching the allegory of the “war on terror” that is the gritty remake of the 1970s sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica. In the new version of the show one of the main characters has his eye removed while being detained by the Cylons – artificial intelligences bent on exterminating the human race. As the above article explains, eye removal appears to be emerging as a favourite tactic among the Moroccan police and freelance thugs who take it upon themselves (or perhaps are instructed) to meet out brutal punishment to any Sahrawi with the temerity to question publicly the merits of the autonomy plan. Perhaps this is all part of Morocco’s “path to democracy”.

I think the Galactica analogy is a reasonable one – after all, when it comes to the Western Sahara issue the Moroccan authorities do appear to inhabit a parallel universe whose norms are somewhat different to those of the regular world. Like the religiously inspired Cylons wrestling with the “human problem” in the fictional universe of the sci-fi show, Moroccan nationalists view the existence of the Sahrawi people as an obstacle to their ideologically-inspired and self-proclaimed destiny. But however hard the Moroccan state wishes, and however it dresses up the political reality, the Sahrawi aren’t going anywhere. Unlike the fictional human survivors of Cylon genocide in the Galactica universe, the Sahrawi living in exile and under occupation don’t have the option of jumping on space ships and finding somewhere else to settle.

While I’m at it, here’s another example of appeasement (see the earlier post on the Spiegel article), this time from US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, reported in the Seattle Post Intelligencer in an article with the title “Growing terror threat in North Africa“. Invoking the elusive Saharan terrorist bogeyman, Welch describes Moroccan efforts to legitimize its occupation of Western Sahara under its autonomy plan as “serious and credible”, and recommends the plan to Congress as “a positive step towards greater regional stability.” Yeah, right. I think we can see where the US is going with this – preparing public opinion for the final betrayal of the Sahrawi people.

Less angry material to follow, at some point (possibly). Where’s Martin Durkin when you need him?


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