A solution for the Sahara based on dialogue, tolerance and peace

The solution comes from the people

The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war (Erasmus of Rotterdam)

OCCIDENTAL SAHARA. BACKGROUND

Formed from the union of several territories controlled by the Kingdom of Spain, it went from a Colony status to province (number 51) in 1958, until its delivery to Morocco in 1976.

The Spanish possessions, united in what was called «Spanish Sahara», today Western Sahara, are: Río de Oro, Tiris, Saguía el Hamra and Cabo Juby, successively recognized by other European colonial powers. After various diplomatic initiatives, the «Spanish Sahara» was established in an area somewhat greater than 200,000 km2, when on April 2, 1958 Spain ceded the Tarfaya strip to Morocco, then a French protectorate.

It was an almost uninhabited territory, where several tribes lived with their corresponding tribal chiefs and some «emirs». From 1884 to 1968, the Spanish administration was completely peaceful, admitted by the main Saharan leaders. The self-appointed sultan of Adrar el-Tmarr, Ahmed uld Mohamed uld el Aidda, the most respected chief at the time, signed a letter of protectorate with Spain, although, at the Berlin Conference, the Ivil salt rooms were under French administration, and the Spanish protectorate was reduced to just over 200,000 km2.

In 1968 an opposition to the Spanish Administration began to be organized, led by al Basiri. His opposition was not only to the kingdom of Spain; The Moroccan demands, to which Basiri demonstrated, in an article published in the Al-Shihab newspaper «La Antorcha» of Tarfaya a strip already ceded to Morocco, that this Emirate had never owned the Saharan territory. Persecuted by Morocco, he took refuge in the Spanish Sahara, where he created an anti-colonial movement, under the name of «Advanced Organization for the Liberation of Saquí el Hamra and Río de Oro», on December 11, 1969, the «Harakat Tahrir» (Freedom Movement) as it was known, was declared illegal by the Spanish authorities. Basiri was arrested and jailed. It is said, although there is no evidence, that he was murdered in prison.

However, the seed had ignited. Shortly after, in 1970, a group of Spanish students, workers and soldiers, meeting in Zouérate (Mauritania), created the Polisario Front (Front for the Liberation of the Sahara and Río de Oro). Its objective was to obtain the total independence of the Saharawi territory. They similarly rejected the Moroccan ingestion. Brahim Gali was elected General Secretary. From then on there were confrontations in the form of guerrilla warfare, the first in a desert in the developed world.

In the early 1970s, around the same time that the Polisario Front was formed, the Spanish government began to draft a Statute of Autonomy for the province and created a pro-Spanish movement, the «PUNS» (Partido Unión Nacional Saharan), because Morocco and Mauritania intend to divide the new province. The «Djemaa» (Assembly of Notables) was maintained and in 1974 the intention to organize a referendum was communicated to the United Nations.

In October of the same year the International Court of Justice recognized that in the past relations with Morocco and Mauritania had existed, based on religious and commercial issues, but it exhaustively rejected the claims by both states, it pronounced «Terra nullius» (no one land ), to the Saharawi territory not taking to account the Spanish administration and dictated that «neither the internal nor international acts on which Morocco based itself indicate, in the relevant period, the existence or international recognition of legal ties of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Moroccan State. Even taking into account the specific structure of that State, they do not demonstrate that Morocco exercised any State activity or effective and exclusive protection in Western Sahara. «

Non the less, King Hassan II of Morocco organized the so-called «Green March» that began on November 6, 1975 and invaded the territory internationally recognized as «Spanish Sahara». In the Madrid accords, reached after this fact and with an acting Head of State, later King of Spain, an administration formed by the three states was temporarily established.

On February 26, 1976 it yielded, when the Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which was recognized by more than half of the African states and some Asian and American states, as well as by the OAU (Organization Africa Unit). The Provisional Government of the Government of the Sahara, formed by the Polisario Front, focused its liberation war against these two countries, in order to achieve the independence from both.

Therefore, Spain abandoned the territory but did not give up sovereignty, maintaining it, along with its status as an administering power, recognized by the UN and the international courts. According to the UN, international law still grants Spain the role of administrator of the Saharawi territory. A role to be extinguished, by the right of self-determination that the UN itself recognizes to the Spanish Sahara.

By continuing to be an administrator, the UN upholds the fact that Spain asserts this right and Western Sahara becomes the eighteenth Spanish Autonomous Community as a transition format. In a reasonable period of time, as soon as possible, the referendum would be held and the Saharawi people could obtain independence if they so decided and the R.A.S.D. international recognition.

As a result, and with the UN immersed in the process of decolonization of African countries, it pressures Spain to relocate Western Sahara in the middle of the cold war between the United States and the former Soviet Union. For their sake, France and the United States are also pressuring Spain to abandon a territory that it was already going to decolonize anyway. Morocco seizes the opportunity and claims the Sahara as Moroccan territory in a historical way. From this moment on, the confrontations and the suffering of the people began, the only ones who suffer in all conflicts.

The Polisario Front is armed by Algeria and begins a tough war against the Kingdom of Morocco that is armed by the United States and France. After three years of war, the Moroccan army fails to defeat the Polisario Front forces. Morocco, faced with the state of the confrontation, began to build a 2,500 km long wall in 1918, dividing the Sahara in two. That is where the battle front stabilized.

At the end of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union, the United States decides that the Sahara war must end, and in 1991 both parties approved a peace plan drawn up by the United Nations, with one condition: that a referendum be held, celebrated so that the Saharawis can decided their future. It is said that, until today, it has not yet been possible to celebrate. Meanwhile, the Sahrawi people live divided between the Moroccan Sahara, the Sahara in the hands of the Polisario Front and the Tindouf camps in Algeria.

From 1992 until today there have been many attempts to solve the problem through diplomatic channels, but both the United States, Europe, Spain and especially France, always look the other way, waiting for the moment to end the conflict while they are with the Saharawi people and their culture. But the people of the Sahara are a tough and resilient people and, despite their division, they endure the inhuman state of the residents of the Tindouf camps. They resist against disappearing as a people and as a culture.

CURRENT SITUATION

At present time, the process is in absolute collapse with all parties at odds and with no diplomatic way out. Meanwhile, the Sahrawi population continues to suffer divided by a forgotten wall of shame that separates them. Committed to opposite and immovable positions, full of distrust and hatred born of a decades long war confrontation, there is no foreseen way out in the short or medium term, so the suffering of the people continues the same.

Similarly, the Sahrawi people are in danger of losing their identity being so divided. The young people who are in the camps go to European countries in search of opportunities for peace and work, abandoning their culture, the Sahrawis who live in the territories of Morocco are integrating themselves into the Moroccan culture, and only the Sahrawis who actualy live in small tribes maintain their culture and traditions. This is becoming  what could certainly be called a true cultural genocide.

The reality is that the Sahrawis who live in Moroccan territory are beginning to prosper socially and economically due to, both national and international, investment in the Moroccan Western Sahara, while the rest of the Sahrawis suffer either from camps and exile or immigration. To all this, we must add the harsh persecution by Morocco, as in any other conflict, of the members of the Polisario Front, due to the pressure they exert on them, and the prisoners who are being held by both sides.

Morocco is in no hurry to solve the problem since, with international support on its side, and with the sharp increase in its armed forces, it maintains absolute military superiority over a weakened Polisario Front, without aid and with little international support.

The Polisario Front, for its part, does not recognize, and this is a serious problem, that it as lost both the armed conflict and the diplomatic one. Carl von Clausewitz, in addition to considering that war is a military treaty, it is also a moral essay on the meaning and future of war and on the position of the professional soldier before it. It is something that has often been summed up by this manipulated version of one of his phrases: «War is the continuation of politics by other means.» The actual quote is more complex: «War is not simply a political act, but a true political instrument, a continuation of political relations, their management by other means.» At the same time, he asks  if there is something worse than war, to which he answers yes, actually losing it, but in the case of the Polisario Front it is not realizing that it has been lost.

All this has led the conflict to a political and diplomatic impasse. Everyone has failed, bringing a people, the people of the desert nomads, the Sahrawis to see their future in great darkness. The time has come to look for alternative solutions thinking only about the people´s future and happiness above all other considerations.

THE SOLUTIONS IS THROUGH THE PEOPLE

The most disadvantageous peace is better than the fairest war (Erasmo of Rotterdam)

When all possible paths have been explored and the exit cannot be found, there is no choice but to reconsider the path and look for other alternatives that lead to the desired end. Therefore, in principle, we consider that it is not good that the same political entities and actors that have not been able to solve the problem continue to block any solution for the parties involved. We believe that the solution must come through another way, by other agents and means, but above all by the real people affected by it, who are none other than the Sahrawi people.

For this to happen, we have launched a peace project, based on dialogue and tolerance «The people, the solution» in which we put the people at the center, each and every one of the Saharans who should be, the true protagonists and, amongst them, seek the most advantageous solution in face of the impossibility of peace in the current formats proposed by governments and international organizations.

The Saharawi people are divided into three fundamental parts: those who live in the Moroccan Sahara, liberated territories and exiled in refugee camps, and those who live as emigrants, with three very different realities. They are all the ones who need to sit in a neutral space, which is accepted by all parties and that inspires the necessary confidence. For this, dialogue has already been held with the parties, always reporting to governments and international actors, and in principle, both Morocco and the Polisario Front, have not rejected this action.

It is of vital importance that both parties acknowledge, and thus recognize, even unofficially, the current situation of full military and international political control by the Kingdom of Morocco. This is a fundamental element of departure, to understand the axis of the basis of the dialogue «The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war» because, as a large part of the people presume «The war is lost, let’s save what is possible». That is what it is about right now, to save the Sahrawi people as much as possible

Andalusia, is the perfect space for the proximity, culture and trust, therefore has been relatively easy to reach agreements with the parties, since contact with them has always been continuous, collaborative and friendly in a historical way. It should not be forgotten that the so-called «Andalusian space» goes from the southern half of the «Iberian Peninsula» to Mali. This, which at first might seem like a historical fact, is not in terms of the solution for today, and as a guarantee for the future.

Andalusia is, it should be the example and the solution. Andalusia is a nation, perhaps the oldest in Europe, with a history as an independent state with more than 3,500 years of existence. We have gone through Phoenicians, Romans, Swedes, Arabs, and today, we are still a great nation, with a great people and one of the most extensive and recognized cultures in the world, and all this, as an «autonomous state» within the Kingdom of Spain.

We fight for the future, progress and happiness of Andalusians, which is important, but without raising any conflict with Spain, outside of the logical and democratic political struggle within the Spanish Constitution of 78, and in compliance with the laws. Because, furthermore, in an increasingly globalized world, states and nations have less and less sovereignty and are obliged to comply with the mandates of supranational organizations. This is the model that we are proposing as a solution to the Sahara problem, a proposal already offered by the Kingdom of Morocco, but, of course, it does not trust the Polisario Front. The fact that the Kingdom of Morocco has already offered autonomy as a solution greatly guarantees this solution path.

Emphasis should be placed on an autonomy solution, since it is the only one that is seen as a feasible solution to the problem, and at the same time it ensures the survival of the Sahrawi entity and the Sahrawi culture, but this cannot seem at all to be the case of a surrender by the Polisario Front, but a solution agreed upon. This is where the importance of Andalusia as an intermediary comes into play and of the Sahrawi people as the main actor in the autonomy route, based on the trust that Andalusia inspires in all parties

TO DO THIS WE PRESENT THE FOLLOWING STEPS

After decades of failed initiatives, the possibility of opening a new path for a solution to the Western Sahara problem certainly requires a lot of diplomacy, discretion so as not to jeopardize the trust placed by the parties at this time

Similarly, indirectly, inform governments and international organizations so that they are aware, but without their direct participation in the initial phase, and the assemblies of the political parties of the Saharawi people.

Therefore, it is important that actions be taken as quickly as possible so that they are not affected by any geostrategic change, or by any interested party who does not reach an agreement.

  • Presentation of the international support group in Brussels, where the proposed roadmap for reunification will be presented.
  • Visit to Dakhla to meet with Moroccan Sahrawis and people committed to peace
  • Meeting with all Sahrawi groups outside of Morocco.
  • Implement a continuous channel of communication between the three parts of the Saharawi people as the axis for unity of action as a people.
  • Hold sectoral assemblies in each of the parties that are preparatory to the proposals that will be discussed in the General Assembly, by the representatives, in which the bases for collective proposals will begin to be laid.
  • General Assembly of representatives in Malaga, approving the agenda to be followed to achieve the collective and unitary agreement of the Saharawi people.
  • To make known, and to make known to the different governments involved, and international organizations, the resolutions of the Saharawi Assembly.
  • Implementation of the plan under international supervision.

FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE AND REINFORCEMENT OF THE PROJECT

All of this is centered on an area of economic, social and cultural influence of the future that includes Andalusia (Spain), Morocco, Western Sahara (Morocco), Mauritania, Algeria and Mali. Within this future space, the important thing will be the respect for the cultures and cultural identities of its peoples, above national belonging, since belonging to one or another state will always be secondary, in face of the development opportunities, economic prosperity waiting for a tranquil area.