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Western Sahara: Wikileaks Revelations Spark Comments

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Politics, War & Conflict

Reactions to the diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website Wikileaks continue to flourish all over the blogosphere. Revelations concerning the conflict over Western Sahara have sparked a few comments.

Ali Amar is a Moroccan journalist. Writing on VoxMaroc [1] [Fr], a blog hosted by the French daily Le Monde, he underlines the fact that although the leaked cables revealed American diplomats’ reservations about bad governance and corruption in Morocco, they showed unwavering American support for the kingdom's position on Western Sahara:

[A]ux yeux de Washington, le Maroc demeure une monarchie bananière, régentée par une clique proto mafieuse. La realpolitik reprend cependant le dessus lorsqu’il s’agit d’épauler le régime de Mohammed VI, sur la question du Sahara Occidental notamment : un rapport de l’ex ambassadeur Thomas Riley daté de 2009 soutient sans détour le plan d’autonomie préconisé par Rabat.

In the eyes of Washington, Morocco remains a banana monarchy, regimented by a proto mafia clique. Realpolitik, however, takes the upper hand when it comes to supporting the regime of Mohammed VI, on the question of Western Sahara in particular: a report by former Ambassador Thomas Riley dated 2009 clearly supports the autonomy plan advocated by Rabat.

Stephen Zunes writing on the Huffington Post, agrees. He dismisses [2] views expressed by a diplomat on a cable dated August 2009, as flawed and distorted by an ideology, he says, is reminiscent of the Cold War (link added):

This cable is very reminiscent of the longstanding effort by State Department officials during the Cold War to delegitimize national liberation struggles by claiming they were simply the creation of Cuba, the Soviet Union, or some other nation-state challenging U.S. hegemony. Indeed, in a throwback to Cold War rhetoric, Jackson [the diplomat, author of the cable] insists that the Polisario Front [3], which has been recognized as the legitimate government of Western Sahara by over 80 governments, is “Cuba-like.” In the cable, Jackson calls for U.S. support for Moroccan calls for a census and audit of international programs in Polisario-led refugee camps, but not support for the international call for human rights monitors in the occupied territory.

A cable released earlier this month suggests that Algerian president is seeking a resolution of the conflict that would allow his country to “save face.” Fayçal, writing on the Algerian online news website Algerie Focus comments [4] [Fr]:

L’Algérie aurait-elle tourné le dos au Front Polisario ? La question mérite d’être posée, surtout quand on lit un câble du site WikiLeaks assez intriguant qui montre un Président algérien voulant en finir avec un problème devenu trop embarrassant pour l’Algérie.

Has Algeria turned its back to the Polisario Front? The question is worth asking, especially when one reads an embarrassing cable released by the Wikileaks website, which intriguingly shows Algerian President wanting to end a problem that has become too embarrassing for Algeria.