Saturday, December 24, 2005


Disappeared News: The Other Mid-East Occupation

Two of the three military occupations in the mid-East are well-known: Israel's occupation of Paletinian territory, and the US occupation of Iraq. These get all the press. But there is another, described by Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics at the University of San Franciso in an article in the current issue of Tikkun magazine:
Imagine an Arab Muslim nation, most of whose people have lived in the squalor of refugee camps for decades in exile from their homeland. Most of the remaining population suffers under foreign military occupation, with a smaller number living as a minority within the legally-recognized territory of the occupier. The occupying power is in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, has illegally brought in tens of thousands of settlers into the occupied territory, routinely violates international standards of human rights, has built a heavily-fortified separation barrier deep inside the occupied territory, and continues to defy a landmark decision of the International Court of justice. Furthermore, and despite all this, the occupying power is considered to be a close ally of the United States and receives substantial American military, economic, and diplomatic support to maintain its occupation and colonization of the territory.
So where is this nation?

It is the Western Sahara, occupied by the Kingdom of Morroco with the support of the USA.

The Tikkun article is not on line, so you may have to Google your own research. I think you'll find out why this thirty-year occupation has been under the radar all this time:
The Sahrawis have fought for their national rights primarily by legal and diplomatic means, not through violence. Unlike the Palestinians and a number of other peoples engaged in national liberation struggles, the Sahrawis have never committed acts of terrorism. Even during their armed struggle against the occupation, a conflict that ended fifteen years ago, Polisario forces restricted their attacks exclusively to the Moroccan armed forces, never towards civilians.
In other words, if you want press attention, better to have suicide bombers or blow up trains or some-such. Fight a clean war of resistance and no one pays attention to your plight.
Western Sahara is the only land—outside of the remaining territories still held by Israel since the June 1967 war—that is recognized by the United Nations as being illegitimately under the rule of a foreign power against the will of the subjected population.
This story is covered in Europe, but not in the United States.

It should be. After all, aren't we intervening in the mid-East on the side of freedom and democracy? Here's a chance to make a difference. Aside from anything you may personally decide to do about this horrible situation, ask your local paper to end their silence on this "other" occupation.


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