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The plight of the Sahrawis, freedom fighters who don't engage in terrorism

  • (April 2002) The plight of the Sahrawis, freedom fighters who don't engage in terrorism. The whole world is watching the drama unfolding in Palestine, where the oppressed Palestinians are fighting against the Israeli occupation. NATO helped liberate Kosovo from Serbian control. However, no coalition and no television ever bothered to intervene in Western Sahara, where a liberation war has been raging for over a quarter of a century against the occupying armies of Morocco. Perhaps we only care when Muslims are the victims, not when they are the oppressors.

    Unlike Palestinians, whose refugee camps have tv sets and saunas, the Sahrawis have lived most of their lives with no electricity and no running water. Unlike Palestinians, who still outnumber Jewish settlers, the Sahrawis are being rapidly outnumbered by Moroccan settlers. Unlike Palestinians, whose refugee camps are irrigated, the 120,000 Sahrawis refugees live in four tent cities in the middle of the Sahara desert.

    The Sahrawi refugees fled their country when Moroccan invaded Western Sahara.

    Western Sahara used to be a Spanish colony. In 1973 El-Ouali led a group of Sahrawi students to form the "Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro", or Polisario. The Polisario fought Spanish rule until 1975, when Spain withdrew and ceded Western Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania. Morocco then invaded Western Sahara with the "green march" (basically, thousands of fanatics backed by 20,000 troops). Hundreds of Sahrawis were killed and about 80% of the population in the capital city, El Aaiun, were driven out of the country. In February 1976 the Polisario proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and began fighting the new oppressor. In 1979 Mauritania gave up its claims on Western Sahara and recognized the Sahrawi Republic, but Morocco occupied what Mauritania had given up. Thousands of people died in the ensuing fighting. To protect their garrisons and settlements from Polisario guerrillas, Morocco then built a complex of walls totaling about 2,000 kms in length.

    In 1989 a cease-fire was signed. The United Nations tried to broker a referendum on independence. Unfortunately, Morocco has been relocating Moroccan settlers into Western Sahara and wants only those settlers to vote. Of course, the Polisario wants the people of Western Sahara to vote, and not the Moroccans. While it was obvious that Morocco was cheating, the United Nations offered a compromise that would basically reward Morocco: autonomy instead of independence, under the control of the Moroccan army. Imagine telling the Palestinians that they will be "autonomous" under control of the Israeli army: would they accept? Besides, who would trust the word of the Moroccan dictatorship not to exterminate the Sahrawis?

    Since the 1970s, the U.S. alone has handed the Moroccan regime more than $1 billion in military aid.

    Ironically, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is the most democratic Islamic country in the world. Only a handful of Muslim countries allow for elections (Bangladesh is the only one left in 2002) and, in particular, all of the Arab countries are run by dictators (some of the most ruthless dictators in the world). The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic stands out as the only place in the Islamic world where dissidents are not tortured and killed, but instead represented in a Parliament. Ironically, the most democratic of Islamic countries is also the most neglected by the West.

    The Sahrawis do not blow up restaurants and cafes, like the Palestinian terrorists do. Unfortunately, they seem to get punished by the West for being so democratic and mellow.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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