Africa’s Last Colony, Part 2

Emily Lee

For my last post with the Sunset Media Wave, I wanted to offer a closing perspective on Western Sahara, the topic from my first post. Given that there’s so much on mind, it is inevitable that there wouldn’t be enough space to express everything. Here are some of my thoughts : 

  1. Abdelmadjid Tebboune has recently been elected as the President of Algeria. He governs the country that has hosted both the Sahrawi government-in-exile and refugees for the past 45 years. Given that, he needs to find the courage to stand up to France and break with other Arab countries by recalling Algerian diplomats back from Rabat, expelling Moroccan diplomats from Algiers, announcing that diplomatic & trade relations be ended and implementing policies that will indicate that Algiers will have nothing to do with Rabat while it continues to brutally occupy Western Sahara. This should follow with him using his position as President to advocate for the implementation of sanctions and isolation against Rabat, till it ends its occupation, at international forums. As he remarked, “When we borrow from foreign banks, we can’t discuss Palestine or the Western Sahara.”, the 45th year of this occupation is a great opportunity to show that his actions speak louder beyond his words.

2. King Felipe is the single most obvious barrier to Spain moving over to the right side of history in standing up for the occupied peoples in the colony it abandoned 45 years ago. The fact that he has a close friendship with King Mohammed, the leader of the country that is brutally occupying Western Sahara, reflects the non-existent threat Pedro Sanchez and his Ministers present to him in maintaining his position. It also should make Spainards realize that if the Bourbon monarchy was restored by abandoning the Sahrawis to their BFFs in the Alaouite monarchy, the liberation of the Sahrawis would probably be achieved with its abolition. Hence, the increase of democracy in Spain could likely increase pressure on Spanish politicians to fulfill historic obligations to the Sahrawi people or else they won’t receive votes to become President or Prime Minister of the country.

3. If South Africa was truly dedicated to fulfilling justice for the Sahrawi people beyond lip service, President Cyril Ramaphosa would first be willing to upset his G20 and BRICS allies by boycotting AU summits that don’t include the Sahrawis. Given that this was his government’s proclamation, it truly doesn’t help when we see him at the AU summit with Russia which excluded the Sahrawis. Next, Cyril Ramaphosa should do what I suggested that Abdelmadjid Tebboune should do. Given that he’s both the leader of a powerful African country and Chairperson of the African Union, he should use his leverage to pressure both outside powers and African countries to do the right thing or risk economic and political consequences. 

4. The closest thing to a Spanish-speaking country that the SADR government-in-exile have in diplomatic allies happen to be Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. However as they’ve been under sanctions imposed by Washington, the likelihood that Havana, Caracas, and Managua will back a boycott, divestment, and sanctions mechanism against Morocco to effectively pressure it to end its 45-year occupation of their Spanish-speaking sister country in North Africa are slim. In addition, I feel that it’s easier for Cuba, Venezuela, and Algeria to take a tougher, official position against the Israeli occupier because of Israel’s first-world country status and its resemblance to Western colonial regimes. This is in contrast to the Moroccan occupier who has the third-world country reputation and was colonized like these three countries, which I feel makes it easier for Venezuela and Algeria to comprehend maintaining relations and embassies in Rabat in spite of the colonial injustices. 

5. I realize that Morocco isn’t able to use the bigotry argument to smear the indigenous people it’s’ brutally occupying and those who support their right to self-determination in Western Sahara, Given that the Sahrawis are also both Arab & Muslim, Rabat would obviously sound ridiculous. So what does the colonial regime in Rabat resort to? Disingenuously smearing the Sahrawis as ‘Algerian-backed separatists’ to try and discredit their legitimate struggle and their cause itself as a conspiracy to undermine Morocco. What’s worse is how the Moroccan people can’t see through this trick by their dictator; they are just as propagandized as Israelis when it comes to the colonies their regimes brutally occupy.

6. Finally, I believe that the Polisario Front should be honest with themselves. Their continued participation in these fraudulent negotiations led by the United Nations has done nothing, but allow the continued perpetuation of Morocco to commit more war crimes and violations of international law with impunity while the UN Peacekeepers sit there and do nothing to protect their people in the occupied territories. In order to work towards the liberation of their people, they shouldn’t give legitimacy to the United Nations, who have not enforced justice for their people. Given how much the UN hasn’t managed to previously hold the Israeli & Indonesian occupiers accountable on their own, pulling out of these negotiations would actually be more respectful of our intelligence than insulting. What should follow is the imposition of a boycott by SADR’s diplomatic allies like Algeria and South Africa against Morocco. Given that this would be a non-violent technique (also coming from some of Africa’s most powerful countries), I believe that this would gain significant attention from world powers and countries on the continent, which could in turn spread awareness of this unknown occupation and impose more pressure on governments to do the same.

Thanks for taking in these important points related to this tragic 45-year-occupation which has produced many years of tragedy and injustice. Unfortunately it is also an occupation that has been forgotten for too many years.