Tuesday, May 01, 2007

UN Blackout on Polisario?

So who sabotaged the TV feed for Polisario?

April 30 was another day at the UN Security Council Stakeout. As the Polisario representative Ahmed Boukhari was answering questions, someone called the control room and told them to fade the cameras to black. No one has confessed, but some Moroccan present or former member of UN staff will doubtless be rewarded by his grateful Kingdom.

In fact, whoever it was has done an oblique favour by reminding us that Morocco's arguments have no legal credibility whatsoever. Their only weapon is to silence the truth.

For over 15 years the issue of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara has come up every six months ago as the Council members agree to pour yet even more money into the sand for MINURSO, the peace-keeping force. Everyone wishes the issue would just go away, since it poses such a clear challenge to the UN and to international law. The ICJ said there should be a referendum, the Security Council said Morocco should end the occupation and endorsed a ceasefire that was to end in a referendum. Even the former King of Morocco said there should be a referendum – although he stopped saying it as soon it was apparent that he could not win since MINURSO would not let him pad the electoral rolls with Moroccans.

But no one had enough of a dog in the fight to force Morocco to abide by Security Council resolutions. On the other hand, smaller members have been concerned enough to thwart the perennial plans of France and others to hand the territory over to Morocco. This time the French were joined by the Americans, but once again they could not railroad a decision past the atavistic attachment of the smaller members to international law. Even so, the resolution shamelessly thanks the Moroccans for their initiative in offering spurious autonomy – without a referendum or the option of independence while only noting Polisario's willingness to go along with the full letter of UN resolutions.

The non-aligned are right to be cautious. If Morocco can overturn international law, and legalize its movement of settlers into and annexation of occupied territory, then why can't Israel? The Arab countries that stand by and let Morocco get away with this are forging the weapons to dispossess the Palestinians, whose only remaining weapon is international law and United Nations decisions.

And that is not to mention condemning their Arab brothers of the Sahara to a justly condemned regime that consistently violates their human and national rights.