Rabat Regime and Western Sahara: The marketing of illusions.

by Khalil Asmar


Just few years after Morocco took its independence from France in 1956, the ruling monarchy found itself in palpable tension with the Moroccan national movement, resulting in the assassination of its high-profile political leader El Mahdi Ben Barka in 1965. This incident generated a legacy of bitterness and uncompromising mistrust, not only between the monarchy and the Moroccan national movement, but extended to the international level. In the 70s of the last century, the monarchy reached its peak status of isolation both nationally and internationally, and what remained of the political parties descended from the national movement stood obstinately resolute against any participation or power sharing with a corrupt monarchy, which in any case was about to be wrecked by two coups d’état. Since then, Morocco entered what became known as “the leaden years,” and the yelling of the democratic voices rose up, denouncing the grave human rights situation that spread all over the social, economic and political framework.

Invading the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara in 1975, just prior to that country’s scheduled independence, the Moroccan monarchy found both an outlet to externalize the stranglehold of its domestic legitimacy crisis, and a means to release itself from isolation. In light of this adventurous step, which - to a large extent - succeeded with the collaboration of the Spanish government, with the additional support of France and the United States, and the financing of Saudi Arabia, the Moroccan monarchy was able to overcome its internal crisis, as descendants of the Moroccan national parties viewed the invasion as an indication of the monarchy’s commitment to nationalism. This new approach was a catharsis to the monarchy, and marks the point when the marketing of illusions began in earnest.
The first myth to be diffused to the Moroccan people and the rest of the world was channeled via Moroccan media and its foreign mercenary “think tanks,” and it centred around counterfeiting and falsifying the decision of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion which reiterated the indisputable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination, according to UN decolonization resolution 1514.

The next illusion was the major Moroccan national parties’ sudden blind and hectic pursuit of the monarchy’s expansionist action under the slogan “from the Sahara march to the Ballot boxes march.” Yet, the question of Sahara became a sacred issue over which a national consensus has been imposed.
Within the same stream of media propaganda, the Rabat regime mounted a fierce campaign to root out the Moroccan radical left, which was represented mainly by “Ila alamam & 23 Mars” organizations, as they transgressed this imposed national consensus and declared the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, and thus opposed the forceful annexation of Western Sahara. The price of such a stand was obviously too high for the Rabat regime to bear, and so hundreds of Moroccan intellectual youth and political figures were brutally silenced and incarcerated in “Ain Bourja, Ghbila” and other prisons.
The regaining the Sahara and its annexation to the motherland became an illusion under the heavy strikes and armed resistance of the Polisario Front fighters, which proved to be a difficult equation in the struggle over the legitimacy of Western Sahara.
In 1991, the UN brokered a cease fire, ending the 16 years of armed liberation struggle and opening the door to a peaceful resolution for the conflict, but Morocco abiding by the promise of a referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara soon proved to be yet another illusion, one which the international community and the Polisario Front had mistaken for a truth.
With the passing away of his father, the new king, Mohammed 6, inherited not only the throne but also the craftsmanship of illusions. Autonomy was his first catered illusion to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara. In 2006, he created the Moroccan Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS) and appointed its members from local Sahrawi figures to market his new product, and maintained it by an expensive international lobbying campaign.http://tinyurl.com/pqhk3uj
Retrospectively, the 2010 protest camp of Gdeim Izik, in which thousands of Saharawis erected a tent city in the suburbs of El Aaiun, Western Sahara’s main city, and which later was brutally raided, declared the death of this proposed plan and consigned it to Morocco illusions bin. http://tinyurl.com/pkogwz5
The Rabat regime’s marketing of illusions has caused many historical and psychological scares to the Saharawis, as well as Moroccans. the people of Europe could not have united without guaranteeing the rights of smaller nations, and the Maghreb region can not be united unless the people of Western Sahara are given the right to exist; otherwise, we will keep living under endless illusions.