The Sahrawis never had a country
July 1, 2014 5:04 AM   Subscribe

Photojournalist Micah Albert and I made the 1,000-mile journey from the Algerian capital, Algiers, to Rabouni to see if we could find evidence of this purported hotbed of extremism in the Polisario-controlled camps. After months of investigation, including two weeks spent in the camps last September, we didn’t uncover a wellspring of terrorists in the desert. Instead, we found a SADR government desperate to maintain its claim over the shores of the Western Sahara and whatever resources might lie there — like the rich fisheries and the mines that provide most of the world’s phosphate. We found a population, inclusive of the Polisario army, that the U.S. government is indirectly, and perhaps unknowingly, spending millions of dollars each year to feed through a multimillion-dollar aid package provided by the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Food for Peace.
For Foreign Policy David Conrad reports about the forty year struggle for independence in the Western Sahara and the impact the War on Terror, not to mention the threatened discovery of oil have had on the Sahrawi and their struggle.
posted by MartinWisse (6 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
As soon as I saw the word "phosphate" I said to myself, "poor bastards, they're screwed."
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:44 AM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a good article. Funny how they break it into so many "parts", which become progressively shorter until a few paragraphs each by the end. Attention span.

This is surely a complex situation and a modern day cowboys and Indians story familiar to Americans. There's even the US government handing out food to the natives, and US corporations moving in to exploit natural resources. Maybe the Sahrawi will end up with a "reservation" somewhere, that was James Baker's proposal basically.
posted by stbalbach at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2014

Food rations for 800,000 African refugees slashed: UN World Food Programme .. the very same program discussed in the article.
posted by stbalbach at 7:54 AM on July 1, 2014

Not only that but the occupation is a huge money-drain on Morocco as well, for military expenditure as well as subsidies to convince Moroccans to live there.
posted by koavf at 9:09 AM on July 1, 2014

We used to call this the forgotten occupation when I worked in The Hague. For all of the yelling that the Arab states do about Israel, they have almost entirely ignored their conquered and oppressed brethren in Western Sahara, who also have a UNSC resolution supporting their right to self-determination. A resolution which Morocco has ignored with absolutely no consequences.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thank you for posting this.
A leading activist is the Nobel Peace price nominee Aminatou Haidar who at various times has ben forceably disappeared, tortured and imprisoned by the Moroccans.
Here is a nasty everyday story about the brutalization of the Sahrawis by the security forces including the threat "I will rape till you're paralyzed" directed at a thirteen year old boy.
posted by adamvasco at 11:46 AM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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