Propaganda watch

August 2, 2012

Here’s a nice example of some pro-Moroccan propaganda about Western Sahara and the Polisario, in the Global Post:

Why are we perpetuating a source of instability in North Africa?

It comes with a health warning in the form of the following:

“Editor’s Note: The author of this article is the executive director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy, which has registered with the US Department of Justice’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit. The group’s activities are funded, supervised and coordinated by the government of Morocco.”

The same publication also ran this piece, in response, with no need for a declaration of vested interests by the author, who is a professor of Politics and chair or Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

The reality of Western Sahara

They make a nice pair.

Again, it seems that the most vocal foreign supporters of Morocco’s position are those who are paid to support it, by the Moroccan monarchy – paid foreign agents acting (in this case) in the US on behalf of a foreign power, to spread disinformation. And they even confess to it (well, sort of).

[Via the Moroccan Propaganda Watch page on Facebook]

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Hostage taking and propaganda

November 17, 2011

I’ve been hoping to write a post about the kidnapping of 3 foreigners from the reception centre at Rabuni, in the Sahrawi refugee camps, where I’ve spent many happy days on the way to and from the Free Zone for fieldwork.  However, time is short. Thankfully, Malainin Lakhal has written about it here in Pambazuka. This story has been squeezed dry for its propaganda value by Morocco and its apologists, and it’s fair to say that only party to benefit from this sorry affair is Morocco. This in itself raises some questions about who is behind it – it doesn’t take a genius or a conspiracy theorist to conclude that Rabat and its allies may have had a hand in the kidnappings, although the whole affair remains very murky.

  http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/77846


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).

————-

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

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

http://www.andrewduff.eu


Well fancy that…

September 16, 2008

Those of you who follow the news from north-west Africa will have heard about the alleged al-Qa’ida attack in northern Mauritania, in which twelve Mauritanian soldiers died. The attack occurred just east of Zouerate, close to the border with Western Sahara.

Alle, on the always excellent Western Sahara Info blog, has a more meaty analysis of this incident than you’re likely to find on the mainstream news sources (as usual, AFP are confusing the Moroccan and Western Saharan borders). Alle makes the following observation about how these sort of things might be prevented and security in this rather large and desolate border region improved:

“What could help a lot is a formal framework for Algeria-Mauritania-Polisario-Mali policing, since these parties are already on friendly terms with each other, while Morocco is somewhat disconnected from the whole thing (by the berm). But, for political reasons, that wouldn’t sit at all well with Rabat…”

Certainly more security cooperation between the these four governments would help to reduce the risk of such attacks. Polisario is currently the only game in town when it comes to policing the Mauritania-Western Sahara border, at least in the direction from the former to the latter (they also manage the border crossing from Algeria into the Free Zone of Western Sahara), and their role would be crucial.

Alle is spot on when he points out that Morocco would become jittery if these governments, with whom relations range from difficult to hostile, started cooperating on security issues along what Morocco insists is its own border (despite its lack of presence in most of the areas concerned). Any such cooperation would also rub up against the section of the Berm that extends into Mauritania. We can be fairly sure that, despite its initiative to stop the “empty spaces” of the Sahara becoming a haven for the likes of al-Qa’ida, the US isn’t likely to be promoting a major role for Polisario in Maghrebian regional security. This would send the government in Rabat into fits of apoplexy, and Washington has been an increasingly enthusiastic supporter of Morocco’s occupation, at least under the latest Bush administration.

So, what do we have here? Apparently, a situation in which the potential for security cooperation to combat terrorism exists, but is unlikely to be realised, at least in part because Morocco wouldn’t stand for it and Morocco’s friends would therefore not support such an initiative (Morocco and its supporters would presumably do everything they could to prevent such cooperation).

Morocco often claims that its presence in Western Sahara is necessary to prevent terrorism, whereas in reality its occupation simply makes preventing terrorism more difficult by making regional security cooperation less likely. Let’s remember that one of the main reasons the Western Sahara-Mauritania border remains open is that Morocco’s slicing in half of Western Sahara means that it is impossible to travel from the Northern Sector to the Southern Sector of the Free Zone without transiting through Mauritania, in order to avoid the section of the Berm that extends into the far north-west of Mauritania. The Mauritanian government can’t police its borders unilaterally without making life difficult for the Sahrawi and the Polisario  or increasing regional tension, which it has no desire to do (neither does it have much in the way of resources with which to do so). The Polisario polices the Free Zone pretty effectively (try getting in without their permission and chances are you’ll soon come up against a patrol), but is denied a greater role in regional security  because this would upset Rabat.

Once again, we see that Morocco’s belligerence in Western Sahara only serves to exacerabate regional insecurity and destabilise the Maghreb.