It is naïve to think that the problem of Western Sahara will be settled within one or two years or that solutions we suggest will be accepted by all parties. We, undoubtedly, know it is a very complicated issue; for more details, see the two previous articles, Morocco and the Story of Western Sahara and Western Sahara: Morocco or Polisario. To complicity is added compound mistakes committed by parties involved in the issue.
First, Morocco's first mistake was not adopting, or at least powerfully supporting, the military solution, since librated in 1956 A.D. till 1975 A.D., to free Western Sahara from Spanish occupation. Actually, Morocco then did not want to be involved in fresh problems and thus left the whole matter to Sahrawis who endured much sufferance resisting Spaniards. On the Spanish withdrawal from their lands, Sahrawis felt most rightful of the land being defended by no other claimant.
Second: Morocco resorted to the UN, an entity renowned for injustice, and to the USA, an entity renowned for more injustice. Actually, such entities do not defend the interests of weak countries and, rather, put their powers at the disposal of strong countries even if to be used for injustice and oppression.
Third: Morocco lacked in future vision concerning many situations. In this regard, it claimed right to Western Sahara as a whole and then did not oppose to agree with Mauritania to share it together. In another situation, Morocco claimed right to Tindouf in Algeria to later close the file ultimately. Moreover, Morocco held lengthy negotiations with Polisario and reached no convincing solutions to settle the dispute. In fact, negotiations produced no more than pacifiers.
Polisario committed the mistake of waging war against their Moroccan and Mauritanian brothers. They would better have sit with their brothers as honest Mujahids (fighters in Allah's Cause) defending the interests of their country after the enemies had withdrawn wherefrom. However, they viewed the issue from a selfish prospective, bearing in mind that their Marxist trend takes into consideration no more than material and self-interest.
In addition, Algeria made the mistake of joining the conflict taking sides with Polisario and hosting the latter's so-called republic in the Moroccan-native Algerian-dominated city of Tindouf. It is well-known that Algerian did not involve themselves into the conflict in support of the oppressed or in defense of rights. By doing so, rather, Algerian aimed at weakening Morocco and thus making a political balance in the region. Furthermore, Algeria belonged to the Russian-oriented camp while Morocco belonged the US-oriented camp. Even after the collapse of the USSR and the end of Cold War, Cold, and even Hot, War is still flaring up in our own ground.
Great Economic Capabilities
All parties committed the mistake of making space for imperial powers who were the core reason behind sparking the dispute. All of them now propose solutions, submit plans and offer mediation. Actually, this stands for impudence on the part of Western countries and foolishness on the part of Arab countries, the victim being Moroccan and Sahrawis equally.
Further complication to the issue is added by the great economic capabilities Western Sahara enjoys, which waters the mouths of all those who aspire for dominating it. Instead of being a source of welfare to Moroccans and to Muslims in general, these capabilities turned into a reason of conflict among brothers.
In fact, Western Sahara is a real treasure for the Muslim Ummah. It alone produces about 35% of Morocco's phosphate production, Morocco being the world's third-largest producer of phosphates. Western Sahara has 28.5% of the world's Phosphate reserve. Moreover, Western Sahara contains Bu-Kra, the largest world's phosphate deposit, which alone produces 9% of the world's total production. In the last year, Western Saharan Phosphate yielded more than $660M.
In addition, Western Sahara contains a 4.6 billion ton iron reserve and many precipitates of copper ore. It also contains gold in the region of Rio De Oro. Besides, It contains great quantities of precious stones, especially emerald and corundum. In addition, it has significant mines of easy-mined halite. Furthermore, Western Sahara has good promising reserves of oil, natural gas and coal, which makes it an untouched energy deposit. As for fishery, it is more than imaginable. Western Saharan coasts are the richest aquarium in Africa equaling 150,000 cubic meters, with a capacity of two million tons of fish annually!
Undoubtedly, such is a huge wealth that can bring forth good for reasonable people and is, at the same time, a source of dispute and conflict for foolish and stupid persons!
Western Sahara: A Moroccan Land
Now, who is rightful in this issue?
Who has the right to this land and who should rule it?
In my opinion, which I hope not to be shocking or causing anger to any party, Western Sahara is a hundred percent Moroccan land regarding which no self-determination referendum may be conducted. Although we do blame Morocco for giving up the cause from 1956 to 1975 A.D. and do appreciate highly-estimated efforts exerted by Sahrawi Moroccans to expel the Spanish, we cannot overlook the Moroccan origin of the land, overlooking which is logically and practically unfeasible. Otherwise, the door will be wide open before any city within a given country that struggled against occupation to claim independence from the mother country. Given this, we might come to know such countries as Rabat, Casablanca, Fez and the so on. Actually, such an idea is molded by the UN with the purpose of crumbling the Muslim worlds, being certain that Sahrawis will vote for independence from Morocco in case a referendum is conducted. Actually, the UN wants to dominate all such capacities unrivalled. Moreover, their actions are motivated only by emotion paying no attention to consequences whatsoever.
Dear brothers, reexamine the whole matter..
Do you think that 373,000 persons, the total population of Western Sahara according to 2005 statistics, are enough to establish a powerful country backed by a mighty army to protect all such resources? Or, should we be surprised few days later by the Spanish, French or American navy coming to take control within the pretext of anything - for example, searching for weapons of mass destruction?
Is not it more proper that this part be annexed to the mother entity and that disunited people unite together under one Moroccan identity regardless of geographical, ethnical or racial considerations?!
Based on the abovementioned facts, division of Western Sahara is an unsuccessful idea as it adds to the region's separation and weakness. Moreover, self-rule leads to no more than putting off solving the problem for few years to burst out again under other circumstances.
Undoubtedly, Western Sahara is religiously, logically, customarily, legally and historically a Moroccan land. Nevertheless, we know that strategies to put it into force is practically difficult. Hence, I propose ten steps below in this article, application of which, I think, has the effect of establishing justice so easy. I ask Allah to guide those in authority to truth.
First: Original Islamic spirit has to be inculcated in the souls of not only Sahrawis but also the Moroccan society in general. No doubt, Islam is the only factor as may reunite and reconcile conflicting hearts. Believe me, it is not merely theoretical. It was enforced in all Muslim lands especially along the history of the region. Actually, only through Islam could the region be unified under the rule of Moravids and Almohades. Therefore, religious enlightenment is a must through giving full reign for Du'ah (callers to Allah) and scholars and giving them enough space on mass media, which will have the effect of cooling down the conflict among parties.
Knowing that the Moroccan government is apprehensive for political Islam marking it as a red line that may not be trespassed, I sincerely assure them that glory may be sought only in Islam and that dignity and honor can be gained through applying the Shari'ah (Islamic Law). "Would that my people knew!"
In fact, the whole world paid allegiance to our predecessors as they stock firmly to their religion. To speak about those who turned away from it, they lead a hard life even if they are kings or Sultans.
Second: We want reverend scholars of the region to send to us the fully-detailed story of the region, i.e. not only from a historical prospective but also from political, social, economic, security and religious prospective. Actually, we lack information and thus have no enough space of freedom due to ignorance. Therefore, ways of guidance and success will be wide open before us once we know. They are moreover required to publicize such knowledge of theirs so that it may not remain in bondage to shelves in academic libraries or scientific circles. Rather, we want their knowledge to be within the reach of everyone so that Muslims all over the world might benefit wherefrom. By doing so, western Arab countries will be put into the focus of all Muslims, which will have a wide range religious, political, investment and suchlike impacts.
Third: Moroccan government has to show a great concern for Sahrawi refugees who live under harsh circumstances in the borderline regions between Morocco and Algeria near Tindouf. Leading such a miserable life, they will never feel belonging to Morocco. Therefore, mere aids and relief authorities are not enough. Rather, a basic solution including the provision of health, food and scientific care and sustenance in general has to be offered. Otherwise, they will turn into a highly explosive volcano at any given moment. Anyway, they are Moroccans who have rights, for Morocco may not rule Western Sahara uncommitted to any rights or duties. Actually, people of the land that is to be ruled have to be cared for.
Fourth: Morocco has to proceed to reclaim Western Saharan lands and provide water through inspecting for groundwater, deriving water from a nearby river or desalination. It has also to establish new cities in the desert in order to be a safe and comfortable resort for the natives of the region. Such cities have to be located near mines so that workers and investors might inhabit therein. They can also be settled near the seacoast in order to be in contact with fishery and trade ports. Actually, experience of some Arab countries in the field of new city construction has to be made use of. For example, Egypt established many new cities in the desert, such as Tenth of Ramadan, Sadat, Nubaria and other cities, that changed the demography of the region and attracted investors and factory owners. Economists may also establish factories specialized in manufacturing ore instead of merely exporting them as such. Moreover, factories for canning and industrializing fishes may be established, bearing in mind that Vietnamese economy was improved through fish industry only.
Such factories will require workers, administrative staff, distributors and so on, priority of employing which will be given to Sahrawis so that they may be attached to the general system in Morocco and thus be more loyal to the State. Believe me, those in authority, citizens may never feel belonging to a country whose resources are exploited and enjoyed by a group of people while others are deprived thereof.
Actually, these are not merely rosy dreams. No doubt, Arab and Muslim world are accumulated with resources. Were Morocco to make a good marketing for the above-referred-to projects, capitals would flow from everywhere and benefit would be reaped by all parities.
Fifth: It is inevitable to put an end to foreign interference in Western Sahara and in Morocco in general, were it a military existence, such as peace-keeping forces, or economic, such as giant international companies. Actually, they have an agenda conflicting with our hopes and ambitions. Thus, their existence will reopen old files that might affect events. If by no means we will have to deal with developed enterprises, we may deal with such other countries as China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia. Actually, US-orientation grew so ugly and will lead to economic, social and incorporeal occupation that might be of severer consequences than military occupation.
Sixth: Moroccan government has to issue a comprehensive real free pardon to all Polisario leaders and fighters and to the president and ministers of the Sahrawi Republic. Moreover, it has to recompense them, not only in terms of money but also authority, for their leadership ambitions. In this regard, it could be proper to divide Western Sahara into sub-territories, each to be headed by a Sahrawi leader. Moreover, Sharawi people has to take part in the Moroccan system of government, i.e. be represented in the parliament, ministries and greater institutions. It is even better that they be represented in the government according to an invariable ratio in proportion with their population. It will be also good that they assume such positions as ambassadors, judges, bank managers and managers of large enterprises. In fact, doing so resembles a natural merger process that might secure their safety and implants belonging to the country. First of all, it is one of their rights as Moroccan citizens.
Seventh: Moroccan government has to tackle human rights file with ultimate transparency. Unfortunately, Morocco has a bad reputation in this regard. Knowing that many reforms has been made by the government during the reign of King Muhammad V, I still believe that there is much more to be done. Nevertheless, we were so pleased with the government admitting, on establishing the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, to have committed unjust aggression against 20,000 citizens during the reign of King Hassan II and that it considers compensating them. However, all indicators refer to many violations of human civil and political rights. It goes without saying that Western Saharan will accept natural merger into the Moroccan State if they felt transparency, government neutrality, power of law and impossibility of trickery.
Eighth: We advocate those in authority in Morocco to reconsider the ruling regime. Actually, dictator regimes are collapsing everywhere except in the Arab world. People of the world are no more willing to subject themselves to kingship. Moroccan people might seem outwardly to be happy, while they are inwardly about to reach boiling point, which is a very evil omen. It is not shame to reconsider our issues trying to change our course of action in favor of something better. In fact, world became no more isolated as was in past centuries. Rather, it became as open as a small village and thus Moroccan people can know what happens to their fellow humans all over the world through satellite channels, Internet or telecommunications. Actually, it became impossible to control people's perceptions. No doubt, they now wonder why oppression and injustice takes place in their country when it is no more existent in Romania, Poland, Venezuela or Bolivia!
It is more safe to hold frankness and openness sessions through which we search together for a better potential in order to ensure country's safety and security and exert our best efforts for the good and glory of the nation.
Ninth: Algeria has to interfere positively to settle the dispute, for Morocco is a more significant partner for them than the Sahrawi Republic. In all respects, we are all Muslims and thus there is no reason for political risks having the effect of keeping discord kindled. Were Algeria to withdraw its support of the Tindouf-based unreal republic, the dispute would be about to be settled. Thus said, I do not mean that leaders of the Sahrawi Republic should be thrown into destruction. Rather, we seek to safeguard them, their honors and properties as they are Moroccan Muslims and thus have rights. We just want that Algeria, as a deep-rooted country to mediate positively between the two conflicting parties in order to reconcile and reunite them.
Tenth: I wonder what role is officially played by the Muslim and Arab Ummah. Cannot sincere persons from sixty Muslim countries unite forces to solve this dilemma, put an end to the problem and start a new era of renaissance, construction, reclamation and investment?
The Ummah has for so long give up playing its role and performing its duties. Therefore, it held in a very low esteem in the eyes of the world and of even its sons so much that Muslims no more rely in the least on its institutions. I wonder how better the case should be if the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity, scholars and Du'ah, presidents and kings play their expected role.
Being so unable to solve our internal disputes, how should we then deal with such deep wounds as Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir and other issue?
Thus far, I have cited my ten-point suggestion to solve the problem.
I know that many people would argue that this is the role to be played by rulers; what about peoples? To this I say peoples should first realize the truth about the issue and then go ahead. If Allah knows that we are faithfully determined and hardly working, He will give us rulers who might restore our dignity and glory.
Our Moroccan brother, I adjure you to receive your Sahrawi brothers as generously as you always do. Our Sahrawi brothers, I adjure you to rejoin your home country. My Ummah, I adjure you to restore consciousness, for you are the best Ummah that has been brought forth for mankind.
This was my testimony to history. Allah is the Knower of intentions and it is He Who guides to the right path.
I ask Allah to glorify Islam and Muslims.
By: Dr. Ragheb El Sergani