IRSP Reiterate Support for Polisario

Danielle Ni Dhighe danielle at irsm.org
Sat Sep 27 20:12:43 MDT 2003


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 September 2003
Irish Republican Socialist Party

IRSP Reiterate Support for Polisario

The Irish Republican Socialist Party welcomes the UN Security Council
unanimously having passed resolution 1495 at the end of July as the
deadline for rolling over the UN's peacekeeping operation in
Western Sahara arrived. The resolution affirmed a commitment to
facilitate self-determination for the Sahrawi people and helped to
restrain Moroccan efforts to enable their colonists in the region to
participate in determining the territory's future. The IRSP
recognises that, as is true of the Zionist settlements in Palestine,
the Moroccan settlers in Western Sahara are in violation of the
Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of civilians
onto territories seized by military force, rendering these
settlements illegal.

In the fall of 1975, the International Court of Justice rejected
Moroccan claims to Western Sahara and ruled that the Sahrawis were
entitled to self-determination. Morocco invaded the territory that
same year, when the region was scheduled to gain independence from
Spain. The Moroccan invasion forced most of the indigenous Sahrawi
population across the border, into refugee camps in Algeria and a
guerilla war has continued since that time, led by the guerillas of
Polisario (the Western Saharan People's Front).

In response to the invasion by Morocco, the UN Security Council
passed resolutions 379 and 380, which called for Morocco to withdraw
from Western Sahara. Since then, however, the United States and the
French have ensured that the Security Council remains unable to
enforce these resolutions. In addition to thwarting the UN from
acting, the US and France have supplied major military aid, including
training and equipment for counter-insurgency efforts to Morocco, for
use against Polisario. In addition, the two nations assisted Morocco
in constructing a wall to keep the Sahrawi populace out of the
territory, much like the 'apartheid wall' being built in Palestine
today by the Zionists.

A cease-fire between Morocco and Polisario was concluded in 1990,
which was to have been followed by a UN supervised referendum on the
status of the territory. The referendum identified eligible voters on
the basis of the 1974 Spanish census of the territory, but Morocco
sought to include Moroccan settlers who could trace their ancestry to
tribal groups from the region in the distant past. Polisario
appropriately rejected these demands, but the US and France stepped
in to keep the UN from compelling Morocco to comply with the original
agreement, leaving the situation in a stalemate.

In an effective, but unusual, shift of tactics, Polisario aligned
itself with the recent US resolution before the UN, which forced the
Moroccan government to oppose the US on the issue, thereby causing a
rift which deprived Morocco of one of its staunchest allies. Ahmed
Boukhari, the Polisario representative to the UN, said of this
tactical ploy: "We are in the weakest position, so of course, they
always want us to compromise, regardless of the law."

Recognising their precarious position, the guerilla movement opted
for a pragmatic approach and the gamble appears to have been
effective.

Polisario has widespread diplomatic support, with their government-in-
exile of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic having been recognised
by over seventy countries around the world. In addition, the Sahrawi
republic holds full member status in the Organisation of African
Unity. Polisario has created effectively functioning democratic
institutions in the self-governing refugee camps in Algeria over the
years and maintained its struggle to regain their homeland.

Whether the United States will remain at odds with Morocco is far
from certain, however, as the imperialist power has long seen the
Moroccan monarchy as an important regional ally, first during the
Cold War and now in their campaign against militant Islamicists. Many
suspect that if Morocco were to lose the referendum on Western
Sahara, the result would be serious instability for the regime.
Beyond this, the primary reason for Moroccan and western imperialist
interest in the Saharan territory stems from its considerable mineral
wealth, much of it still unexploited and recently the Moroccan
government awarded an oil exploration contract to the US corporation
Kerr McGee, which is one of the corporations with strong ties to the
oil-related interests within the Bush Administration. These contracts
have, however, prompted the Security Council to ask for a legal
opinion from the UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs. In
response, Under-Secretary Hans Corell issued a devastating report
from the Moroccan perspective, though it ultimately upheld the
legality of the contracts. The report also reminded the Security
Council that the Moroccan occupation was being maintained in
defiance of rulings by both the International Court of Justice and
the Security Council itself.

France, the primary imperialist ally of Morocco, even attempted to
proclaim a new diplomatic principle in response to the report,
claiming that the Security Council cannot impose its decisions on
parties if the parties disagree with those decisions. It is dubious
that the French will succeed in having this newly minted 'principle'
accepted, but as an Irish diplomat on the Security Council, who had
miraculously retained enough clarity on attempts by imperialists to
disregard the will of the indigenous populace, said: "The original
draft was utterly one-sided in its approach: it was in violation of
international legal principles, and had already been rejected by one
party to the dispute. It was also clear that the movers could not
muster more than six or seven votes in the Council, so they could not
get a majority for it."

Accordingly, the US returned with the revised proposal, passed at the
close of July. This version provides for a degree of autonomy for the
five-year interim stage to a much greater extent that did the earlier
draft and includes stronger international guarantees against Moroccan
interference. The resolution, as passed, ensures that only Sahrawis
could vote for the interim authority, though it leaves open the
question of the Moroccan colonists voting in the final referendum.

We in the IRSP believe that Morocco has been allowed to disregard the
agreements previously concluded with Polisario for far too long and
denounce the actions of the United States, France, and Morocco to
shore up the occupation and deny self-determination to the Sahrawi
people. We applaud the Algerian government and the government of
Libya for the consistent assistance they have provided to the
Sahrawis and Polisario, and especially the Algerians having
permitted the Saharawis refugees to maintain a system of self-
government in their refugee camps, rather than attempting to impose
Algerian law on these embattled people.

We believe that it is essential that the Sahrawis and the Sahrawis
alone be enabled to make known their wishes regarding self-
determination and once a plebiscite has taken place, we call upon the
Security Council and especially all of its permanent member states to
ensure that Morocco immediately honour the expressed will of the
Sahrawi people.

As with Palestine and Puerto Rico, imperialist machinations have too
long impeded the will of the international community and the
indigenous people of Western Sahara. We salute the heroic campaign of
Polisario against a formidable alliance of the reactionary Moroccan
monarchy and its imperialist allies and express our solidarity with
Polisario's struggle for national liberation and social justice.

###

Republican Socialist Publicity Bureau
392 Falls Road, Belfast, BT48 6DH, Ireland
Tel: 028 90 321024   Fax: 028 90 330786
http://www.irsm.org/irsm.html



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