45 years of Saharawi struggle for self-determination

On February 27, 1976, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was proclaimed. On the anniversary of its foundation, its people bravely confronts Morocco, which occupies and plunders the territories of Western Sahara with the complicity of the great powers.

By Ruben Tzanoff

The aggression of the Moroccan army at the Guerguerat pass in October 2020 broke the cease-fire and the Polisario Front declared war. Since despite so many years of aggression they have not succeeded in bringing the Saharawi people to its knees, the invaders are developing a political counter-offensive. They seek to gain support, rearm the occupying forces and intimidate the defenseless civilian population with brutal repression in the occupied territories.

From different angles, the imperialists and international organizations endorse the occupation. Spain has a particular responsibility due to its character of administering power. Pedro Sanchez, president of the “progressive coalition” government, said: “We are concerned about the stability of the Maghreb region, the Sahara negotiations must be resumed”. Regarding self-determination… not a single word. Beyond the frictions, Madrid wants to maintain a good relationship with Rabat, because of trade relations and because the Moroccan regime acts as a border army to control the flow of thousands of migrants from Africa to the European Union.

Under Emanuel Macron, France has deepened its ties with Morocco, as have the United Kingdom and the U.S. Before leaving office Donald Trump pledged trade and military support from U.S. imperialism in exchange for the Moroccan monarchy’s recognition of the State of Israel. The recognition of the genocidal and colonialist state that subjugates Palestine was a real betrayal of the entire Arab people. The new President Joe Biden has given no indication of reversing his predecessor’s decision.

For his part, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has spoken out in favor of compliance with UN resolutions. However, Mohamed VI and Putin have reached important productive and commercial agreements in February. They are of such magnitude that they have made Morocco the third most powerful partner of Russia in Africa and the second in the Arab region. It is part of the strategy of Russian imperialism to extend its interests in the African continent and to advance in the control of the Mediterranean. The big deals involving the plunder of Saharawi natural wealth include the provision of technology and weapons for the occupying forces.

The role of international organizations is characterized by cynicism. The UN Security Council extended the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), but it still does not fulfill the mandate for which it was established in 1991: to carry out the referendum of self-determination. The decolonization process, in accordance with Resolution 1514, is at a complete standstill. This attitude supports Morocco’s thesis, which considers it a “realistic” solution to negotiate the recognition of the autonomy of the Sahara under Moroccan rule.

Thus Morocco maintains a diplomatic offensive while it administers, controls and plunders what it considers its “southern provinces” and, through the wall of shame, has forced 170,000 refugees to live in the Algerian desert of Tindouf for the past 40 years. As the occupation forces have not been able to defeat the Polisario, the regime has imposed an apartheid of segregation and violence on the defenseless Saharawi families. Among many other cases, a child was assaulted for wearing a soccer shirt of the Algerian team and five Moroccan settlers assaulted and tried to kill a 20 year old young man. Women are constantly assaulted, and on February 13, in Boujdour, activist Sultana Khaya was savagely beaten by the police at the door of her house, where they live under house arrest.

The conflict is not over, yet most of mass media do not report the seriousness of the events. The aggressions become public because they appear mainly on social networks, thanks to the efforts of young Saharawis, social collectives and leftist political organizations. It is necessary to prevent the Saharawi cause from disappearing from consideration and concern because this favors the invaders, the imperialist powers and the economic interests of the big plundering companies.

From the International Socialist League we have been developing a campaign in support of the self-determination of the Saharawi people, we call to continue and deepen it. Together with activists and the oppressed people we demand: stop repression and the violation of human rights, no to the sale of arms to the occupiers, Morocco out of the occupied territories. It is necessary to maintain an international campaign of diffusion in media and social networks, including rallies at Moroccan diplomatic headquarters, caravans and other actions that maintain the validity of the claim for a free Western Sahara. 45 years after the foundation of SADR, long live the struggle of the Saharawi people.

El conflicto no ha terminado, sin embargo, la mayoría de los medios de comunicación masiva no informan sobre la gravedad de los acontecimientos. Las agresiones toman estado público porque aparecen principalmente en las redes sociales, gracias al empeño de los jóvenes saharauis, de los colectivos sociales, de las personas solidarias y de las organizaciones políticas de izquierda. Hay que evitar que la causa saharaui desaparezca de la consideración popular porque esto favorece a los invasores, a las potencias imperialistas y a los intereses económicos de las grandes empresas saqueadoras.

Desde la Liga Internacional Socialista venimos desarrollando una campaña de apoyo a la autodeterminación del pueblo saharaui, llamamos a continuarla y a profundizarla. Junto a los activistas y el pueblo oprimido, exigimos:  alto la represión y la vulneración de derechos humanos, no a la venta de armas a los ocupantes, fuera Marruecos de los territorios ocupados. Es necesario mantener una campaña internacional de difusión en los medios de comunicación y en las redes sociales, que incluya concentraciones en las sedes diplomáticas marroquíes, caravanas y otras acciones que mantengan la vigencia del reclamo por una Sahara Occidental libre. A 45 años de la fundación de la RASD, viva la lucha del pueblo saharaui.