Better to be talked about…

As regular readers of this blog will have noticed, my posts come in fits and bursts. By my own (admittedly quite slack) standards I’ve been pretty active lately, with four articles in just over a month. Usually when I’m this active there is a rapid response in the comments spaces from a small cabal representing the official Moroccan position on the Western Sahara conflict, enthusiastically pushing pro-Rabat and anti-Polisario/anti-Sahrawi propaganda. The cheerleader of this little group is someone who goes by the monicker of Ahmed Salem Amr Khadad (see here for a discussion of his approach and a for number of his comments). Ahmed Salem has been the most prolific commenter on my blog posts, and he can be found in many other corners of the internet, pouring scorn and vitriol on anyone critical of Morocco and its occupation of the disputed, non-self governing territory of Western Sahara, which both Morocco and the Polisario claim.

Lately I’ve been wondering where Ahmed Salem has got to, as this blog has been somewhat lacking in comments in recent months. However, thanks to Will Sommer of the currently (and sadly) dormant “One Hump or Two” Western Sahara blog, the mystery of Ahmed Salem’s silence and apparent lack if interest in attacking my material has now been solved. It turns out that he’s not been ignoring me after all. Far from it. Instead, he’s been putting his not inconsiderable talents (and I’m not being entirely facetious there) to use setting up the following Facebook page, of which he appears to be the administrator:

    Against the propaganda of Nick Brooks for the account of Algeria

So if you want to know what nefarious activities I’ve been up to, sitting in my secret eyrie stroking my diamond collared fluffy white cat while counting my millions in Algerian blood money, you now have a one stop shop where you can learn THE TRUTH of my evil plans. Join it and have some fun.

I’ve asked to join myself, and am waiting with baited breath to see if Ahmed Salem will let me in. I can’t wait to see what he cooks up. If the other Moroccan propaganda sites purporting to reveal THE TRUTH about their enemies are anything to go by, there should be some real peaches in the pipeline (1) .

As Will said. “You know you’ve made it when you have a Facebook page devoted to opposing you. Congrats.” A little generous perhaps, but I have to say I am flattered. All fun aside, I’m guessing the Moroccans wouldn’t bother with this sort of thing unless they were at least worried about this blog having some impact. While I have no hard evidence, I suspect that Ahmed Salem is more than just an enthusiastic Moroccan nationalist doing this in his own time. Morocco takes its propaganda very seriously indeed, and invests a lot of effort in it. So, until I have evidence to the contrary, I’m going to take this as an official state-sponsored propaganda undertaking aimed purely at attacking me as an individual, because of my support for the Sahrawi cause and my opposition to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and its supporting propaganda campaign. It gives me quite a nice warm glow to know that I’m having such an impact.

As that great statesman, terrible old colonialist, and sometime genocidal racist Churchill is reported to have said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Or maybe I’ll just go with the less objectionable and almost as amusing Oscar Wilde, with “it is better to be talked about than no.” (All quotes are unverified and may be apocryphal).

[Update: Ahmed Salem Amr Khaddad has declined my request to join the group unless I put some pro-Moroccan links on my blog. This sounds a little like attempted blackmail to me – you don’t like what someone is saying, so you set up a forum in which to attack them, and then say you will only give them a right of reply if they promote your views. I think this tells you all you need to know about the Moroccan approach to debate and criticism]

(1) See, for example, Polisario Confidential and Polisario Think Twice for Moroccan propaganda sites attacking the Polisario (who knows, maybe there is some real dirt to be found there, but here it’s lost in a far dirtier mire of fabrication), Sahara Developpement and CORCAS for sites extolling the virtues of the Moroccan occupation here rebranded as “decolonisation”, and Morocco Board and the Moroccan American Center for Policy for the muscular promotion of Moroccan views in general (including propaganda on the Western Sahara conflict).

For other views that don’t push the propaganda line of an aggressive expansionist country illegally occupying and partitioning one of its neighbours, look to any of the Western Sahara blogs and news links to the right.

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6 Responses to Better to be talked about…

  1. Hi Nick,

    Many thanks for the above. I feel again like a star. I have no problem to accept you in this Facebook group but you should put some pro-moroccan links in your blog for a while to give proof of neutrality on the Western Sahara Territory dispute. As the network of Algeria/Polisario Front supporters is on, you will certainely get all what is written there. So you don’t need to be in 🙂

    Your friend and supporter, Ahmed Salem

  2. Nick,

    How was the meeting of Algiers?

  3. nickbrooks says:

    Ahmed Salem. Thanks – I’ll look forward to receiving notification of the acceptance. No pro-Moroccan links other than those pointed to in my articles I’m afraid. As you well know, and as I freely admit, I’m not neutral on the Western Sahara issue. I support the putative UN referendum on self determination, in a version that includes independence as an option. I oppose the Moroccan occupation. So I’m truly partial! I’m not shy about linking to pro-occupation/ autonomy sites in context, but don’t think it’s right to give Moroccan propaganda equal weight to the (in my view) much more ethically sound material supporting self determination and opposing occupation and colonialism. As someone said of this context: “Truth not balance”!

    Not sure what Algiers meeting you’re referring to – perhaps I missed it. Last time I was there was in November 2009 on my way back from the Free Zone (your pretend “UN buffer strip”) and the camps. And that was just in transit through the airport. Thankfully I wasn’t detained by the Algerian authorities on that occasion, as I didn’t have any geological samples from Western Sahara (they can be very tricky about that, even though they support the Polisario, as I’ve found to my cost on previous occasions).

    Cheers

    Nick

  4. Nick,

    I would like you to be quite on something important to you. You will keep all your sponsoring conditions when autonomy will take place in the Territory. No worries about that. It won’t be Ophir the “African company”, of course 🙂 but it will be another company or maybe public funds from the autonomous government.

    I had no doubt about your support to the Algerian theses on the issue. So, you don’t want to be in the group. Sad about it 😦 Anyway you will get information from the network (Will and co).

    Really, you didn’t know about the meeting of Algiers!! You make me laugh. No problem my dear, there are many other occasions to meet the heads of the network 🙂

    I have nothing against you personally. I can’t understand your refusal to listen to the unionist Western Saharawi version of the story. That’s it.

    Having said that, I am happy you are safe. I hope to meet you one day in the autonomous region of the Western Sahara.

    Good luck. Life is quite hard these days in the west.

    All the very best

    Ahmed Salem

  5. nickbrooks says:

    Well I’m glad I can make you laugh – it’s good medicine. I assume you’re referring to this meeting: http://freedomsupport.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/recommendations-of-algiers-conference-on-western-sahara/ – which I’ve just heard about today via a Facebook contact. Really, I’m not as much in the loop as you seem to think, particularly with respect to Algeria. By the way, the Ophir money dried up some time ago, so we’re currently looking to volunteer contributions for the project, and not looking to swap one source for another. And in any case, that is money for research, not activism – the latter is pro bono (hence the long silences when I’m busy).

    I hate to disappoint you, but I have no intention of taking any funding from Moroccan sources to work illegally in the occupied areas to benefit the occupying powers, even if this funding is channelled through a faux indigenous front organisation.

    As for not listening to unionist (i.e. your and your paymasters’ in Rabat) voices – what do you think I’ve been doing giving you a forum, on the blog and engaging in discussion with you? One can listen without having to agree.

    I’m sorry you do not have the courage to let me join your group, in which you are spreading lies and rumours about me – even though you said I would be welciome. But I am not surprised that a representative of an undemocratic regime employed as an apologist for colonialism and oppression is afraid of giving the target of their abuse the right to reply. But it is OK – it means that I can stop approving your posts here and cease investing my time and effort engaging with and replying to you. It seems only fair that the right to reply is reciprocal.

    As for MINURSO, I think they heard the scream of corrupt politics, money, and colonialism from Morocco and its sponsors. You know that Morocco has it in its gift to let the Sahrarwi exiles and those living under occupation vote on whether they want to live as subjects of the Moroccan monarch. if all you say is true then hold the referendum and be proved right. But I suppose free and fair referenda are anathema to a regime established on the principle of the divine right to subjugate and indoctrinate people for your own personal wealth and advancement. And you know that your claims are hollow, so there is no prospect of having them verified at the ballot box.

    As for life here, it is OK. Working on climate change is – for all the wrong reasons – a good living right now. I’m doing quite a bit of work in Africa, including relating to the Maghreb – have you seen those climate projections for Morocco? I wouldn’t be quite so complacent if I were you 😉

    Well, enjoy your lying and propagandising. It’s what you do best. I’ll continue to fight it here and elsewhere, and will enjoy being freed of the moral obligation of engaging in these stale repetitive debates with you. So thank you for the liberation – at least I can legitimately end the occupation on the blog if nowhere else!

    Amicalement, as your sponsors might say.

  6. pamejudd says:

    I wonder who are these “unionist Sahrawi” Ahmed keeps mentioning. Does he mean the Moroccan Berber and Arab settlers, who still get benefits for moving to Western Sahara?

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