EU fighting al-Qa’eda through…fishing?

November 25, 2008

Recently I wrote to a number of MEPs about the European Union’s plans to grant “advanced status” to Morocco, making it a sort of associate member of the EU. This agreement includes Western Sahara as if it were a part of Morocco, presumably opening the way for the EU to steal natural resources from the Sahrawi people.

I have received two replies so far. One from UKIP, a fringe isolationist party that seeks more “independence” for the UK (from Europe), which simply directed me elsewhere. The other was from Andrew Duff, a Liberal Democrat, who has been to Morocco to discuss the process of bringing Morocco closer to Europe. I’ve pasted his response below.

Mr Duff mumbles about human rights but completely sidesteps the issue of the Western Sahara conflict, except to say, intriguingly, that the “Western Sahara Problem” is important for Morocco’s security. The poor chap appears to have swallowed all the “War on Terror” crap that Morocco is pushing to justify its occupation. Not sure what he means when he says that we “would be wise to recognise the growing presence of al-Qa’eda there [what, in Western Sahara?] and across the Maghreb.” I’m guessing he means that, in order to fight al-Qa’eda, the EU needs to be allowed to do lots of fishing in occupied Western Saharan waters (fishing, along with phosphates and oil, is a particularly contentious issue). Yes, I’m sure that will really put the frighteners on those barbarous beardies.

Of course I’ve replied. You can write to him too – I’ve included his details as contained in his reply. Or you can find him on the web (so I don’t think I’m guilty of giving out sensitive contact information).

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Dear Mr Brooks,

Thank you very much for your letter of 22 October about the situation in the Western Sahara.

I have recently been to Morocco to speak to the government and human rights organisations about developments. In some ways I am much encouraged by the gradual democratisation process in Morocco, and by the political will to back structural reforms.

The Western Sahara problem poses a real security threat to Morocco, not least because of the growing presence of Al’Qaida there and across the Maghreb, and we would be wise to recognise this. By the way, I did not find anyone unwilling to discuss the problem.

But your general point about the need for respect for human rights is well made. The EU’s decision to give ‘advanced status’ to Morocco is taken in part to add to our leverage on Rabat with respect to human rights. I hope that in due time it will be possible for the EU to help the region resolve its longstanding conflicts. Certainly the situation in the Western Sahara is well-known and often rehearsed here in the Council, Commission and Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Duff

Andrew Duff MEP

Leader, UK Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party

Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)

European Parliament
10 G 346
60, Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels

TelĀ  + 32 (0) 2284 7998
Fax + 32 (0) 2284 9998

http://www.andrewduff.eu