Wednesday, March 22, 2006

CARNE ROSS has a fantastic article in Slate on the Western Sahara, the land no one pays attention to:
If any part of you wants to believe that the world is fundamentally just, that wrongs are eventually righted, and that those of us in the West are fair and righteous in the way we treat other countries and cultures, consider the story of the people of Western Sahara. Their history proves that you can have right wholly on your side, international law emphatically in support of your cause, be on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council for decades, and still be ignored.
I guess that's because they haven't started to blow things up like the Palestinians. Are we giving people an incentive for violence? Is this the lesson?

This bit is just is just the beginning of the piece, so go and read the rest. As I said, it's a great one, though Ross still forgets the role -rather, the absence- of a part who could have made a difference, and had a moral responsibility because the territory was a former colony after all. I'm talking about Spain: all governments since the restoration of democracy after the Franco dictatorship have virtually abandoned the Sahrawis.

Oddly, just like the Kurds, Sahrawis used to be a cause célèbre of the Spanish left, who were demanding governments to do something about it. The left's support of the Kurds ended, well, you know when it ended: when Coalition troops stepped in Iraq in 2003, and when the left realized that Kurdistan has been a staunch ally of the US and one of the, understandably, fiercest opponents of Saddam.

And the Spanish left support of the Sahrawis ended exactly as Zapatero won the 2004 election and started cozying with Morocco as no Spanish government had done before. Interestingly, it was an electoral victory only three days after a massacre perpetrated by a group of assassins composed mainly -but not only, as there were other nationalities, also Spaniards well known in the undeground dealings with security forces- by Moroccans. What it's been proven so far is that these Moroccans who committed the heinous act of March 11 in Madrid were foot soldiers. The question is, foot soldiers for who?

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