Why Does Spain Need Morocco To Free Hostages In Western Sahara? – OpEd


By Malainin Lakhal

Surrounding the efforts to locate the two Spaniards and the Italian nationals, kidnapped last Saturday 22 October 2011 from the Sahrawi refugee camps by an unidentified group, the Spanish minister for Foreign Affairs, Trinidad Jimenez, paid a sudden visit to Morocco on Tuesday and Wednesday, to meet with her Moroccan counterpart, El Fassi El Fehri and to meet the Moroccan prime minister and the king of Morocco, Mohamed VI, according to the Moroccan newspaper Al Alam, one of the monarchy’s state media outlets. The aim of the visit was to ‘debate about the bilateral relations, especially in relation to the cooperation in the field of security, illegal migration, and the international narcotrafficking’.

The Spanish minister further declared that her country relies on the solidarity of the Moroccan government. According to Jimenez, Rabat expressed willingness to cooperate in the efforts to rescue the three kidnapped victims, adding that the Spanish government ‘is building with Morocco wide relations of coordination with regards to the war against terrorism, and this is something that can be of a great help’ in this week’s unfolding events.

But of course, the very fact of organising such a visit (Jimenez’s first to Morocco and probably the last before the next elections) to discuss the mentioned subjects, and the choice of Morocco as a destination in the light of the recent kidnappings, supports the analysis we did in a previous article [Arabic], in which we wondered about the possibility of the involvement of the Moroccan secret services in this kidnapping that did not target the three kidnapped friends of the Sahrawi people as much as it targets the Sahrawi refugee camps and Polisario Front – especially that the latter is preparing its 13th Congress to take place in the liberated region of Tifariti this coming December.

Jimenez’s choice of Morocco to seek the help for the release of the three kidnapped Europeans cannot be coincidental. The current Spanish government is well positioned to know of the dubious relations that Morocco holds within the circles of the international crime and terrorist groups in the Sahel and abroad. Everyone will remember the accusations that were addressed to the Moroccan regime after the terrible terrorist attacks in Madrid that caused the defeat of the Popular Government of Jose Maria Aznar and his party in Spain. And that the Spanish Popular Party paid a heavy price for its opposition to the Moroccan thesis in Western Sahara because of its relatively active neutrality in the issue. And most important, everyone will remember that the government of Zapatero was then the biggest beneficiary of that tragic terrorist operation committed by some Moroccan terrorists. After all, Zapatero’s party won the elections mostly because of that terrible act.

On another hand, it has been widely written about following WikiLeaks’ revelations regarding the suspicious ties that the generals of the Moroccan king and his close circles have with the international networks of narco-trafficking and money laundering, linking criminal groups from Colombia and other Latin America countries to Moroccan authorities, crossing North Africa and Europe to reach Egypt and Israel passing through the countries of the Sahel, especially Mali and Niger. These networks, as many security experts say, are well used by the Moroccan secret services, which operate using many Moroccan terrorists and ‘connections’ to infiltrate terrorists groups stationed in the North of Mali.

From our perspective, one of the main goals of the Moroccan services from this peculiar relation with terrorism is to infiltrate the Sahrawi liberation movement, the Polisario Front, and the Sahrawi refugee camps, with the aim of generating problems for the Sahrawi authorities in these camps, which have been safe from any kind of security problems for the last three decades. Sahrawi refugees receive thousands of foreign visitors every year, from families to humanitarian aid workers, artists and musicians, academics and politicians from all over the world.

This said, we believe that this latest terrorist operation is aimed at targeting the Sahrawi national project, and targeting the humanitarian friends of the Sahrawi people so as to terrorise them and to force them to stop their support, humanitarian aid and political efforts in favour of the people of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

We are concerned that this terrorist attack against the three friends of the Sahrawi people could be a first step in a set of ongoing operations to target Sahrawi refugee camps, and may target in a future stage not only our foreign visitors, but also some leaders and Sahrawi cadres, even ordinary citizens and refugees in an attempt to propagate fear and terror among the Sahrawi population, planting cynicism, doubt and pessimism in the hearts of the people to try to force us to give up fighting for the freedom of our country illegally occupied by Morocco.

On another hand, one can rightly say that this terrorist operation is no more than one aspect of the psychological war Morocco is waging against the Sahrawi people aiming at shaking their confidence in their political vanguard, the Polisario Front, but also shaking the confidence and maybe even belief in the reliability of the Sahrawi national goal – independence of our country, which is supported by the international solidarity movement and human rights campaigners. Morocco has repeatedly worked on aggravating tribalism/regionalism amongst Sahrawis, using all kinds of dirty tactics such as buying the allegiance of weak individuals, spreading inaccurate and poisonous information to discredit Saharawi activists, feeding individual struggles between Saarawis to create an atmosphere of disorder and lack of confidence, encouraging narco-trafficking and organised crime in addition to the regular spreading of inaccurate propaganda. All of these tactics, as it is well-known, have historically been used by all colonising powers against colonised and resisting nations.

Another indicator on the Moroccan-Spanish complicity in targeting the Polisario Front was proved when, on Tuesday in Rabat, Mrs Jimenez called on the UN to ‘assess the measures of security in the Saharawi refugee camps’. This claim was also echoed by her Moroccan counterpart, El Fassi El Fehri, who attributed to Algeria the full responsibility of the terrorist attack, and claimed that the region of Tindouf could not be reached by the terrorists unless Algeria and Polisario had allowed the attackers to cross the borders.

Perhaps El Fassi El Fehri means the Spanish authorities allowed the Moroccan terrorists to operate in Spain in the many terrorist attacks committed there during the last ten years? Or, that all the countries that were victim to terrorist attacks by al Qaeda or other groups were accomplices with the perpetrators? Claims such as El Fehri’s can only be qualified as absurd and unacceptable, besides the fact that experience has proved that no nation is safe from terrorist attacks, and no country can pretend to be able to face it alone or to fight against it and erase it.

Going back to the case of the three kidnapped Europeans, Spain will certainly opt for negotiations with the terrorists so as to release them, thanks of course to the ‘Moroccan connection’. Madrid will surrender to the conditions of Rabat as usual, and will start attacking Polisario Front and the Saharawi Republic in an attempt to show it as a weak political entity that is unable to protect its own territory. And this is a constant idea that has been defended by the Moroccan propaganda for many years, with the aim of selling to the world the story that Western Sahara can only be safe if Morocco controls it. Zapatero’s government owes to the Moroccan king such a service after all. We shall not forget that the Socialist Party will not win the coming elections, so it must end its term giving Morocco something.

Further, it is far probable that Spain will be forced to lay down arms in the future, even if the Popular Party wins. The Spanish governments knows well that the Moroccan monarchy can launch a real war against its European neighbours using narco-trafficking, terrorism and smuggling thousands of African illegal-migrants (tolerated in all the cities of Morocco waiting for the right moment to use them).

Nonetheless, the Sahrawi Republic should not be excused from failing its duty to protect its own friends, who visit our refugee camps throughout each year. The Sahrawi authorities know well that Morocco is waging a dirty war against the Sahrawi national political project and for this Polisario must adopt more vigorous measures of security to be ready for all possible scenarios that Morocco might be working on. In this respect, it is probable that the current terrorist attack is no more than a prelude to numerous other operations and propaganda to hinder the organisation of the Polisario Front’s 13th Congress in the liberated zone of Tifariti. The choice of attacking foreign aid workers is not a coincidence, Morocco wants to scare the friends of the Saharawi people from participating in the congress this December 2011.

Moreover, it is unacceptable to allow Morocco to commit all these crimes in total impunity. The international movement of solidarity ought to wage its own war of information to raise awareness about the conflict, and uncover the different Moroccan plans. Morocco must be brought to justice on its bad records of human rights violations, natural resources plundering, political oppression against Sahrawis and Moroccans. And before El Fassi El Fehri or Jimenez give advice and lessons to Sahrawis on how to protect their territory, they should first deal with their own internal failures and incompetence as two economically failed-states in the region and two States that failed to respect the international law in Western Sahara, which is another attack they make against the Sharawi’s hopes for independence of Western Sahara.

Malainin Lakhal is secretary general of the Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union, based in Rabuni, Sahrawi Refugee Camps

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