Posted by: sean | March 3, 2007

Freedom in the desert?

It is ironic that Frederick Vreeland’s op-ed piece on the Western Sahara should have the word “freedom” in the title, since at no point does he mention the Sahrawi people’s right to full self-determination.

He repeats Moroccan talking points that hold that the Polisario Front is but an arm of Algerian foreign policy, despite the fact that the Front was engaged in fighting for Sahrawi independence against the Spanish well before Algerian involvement.

But he mentions neither Morocco’s 1200-mile militarized separation wall built in the Sahara nor its historical expansionist plans, which at one point included not only the Western Sahara, but also parts of Algeria and the whole of Mauritania. Nor does he mention the 1975 ruling by the UN International Court of Justice, which found no reason to disregard the “decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular … the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.”

Rabat has constantly blocked the free expression of the will of the Sahrawi people to decide whether they would prefer integration into the Kingdom of Morocco or to become citizens of the independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

While Vreeland repeats many reasons why he thinks the Western Sahara should remain a part of Morocco, the will of the Sahrawi people is not one of them.

For more reading, check out this and this.



  1. Thanks for writing about this article. I’m familiar with the Western Sahara and had never heard Frederick Veeland’s name in connection with it. His op-ed today instantly changed my opinion on him for the worse.

    Expect more of the same as Morocco prepares to shove an autonomy plan down the United Nations’s throat April.

  2. I’m certainly no specialist, but I’ve done some reading on the subject, which is one that fascinates me — the wall in particular.

    In any case, besides the very, very big American names like Baker, I know very little of the US players in that question, but it stands to reason that any American stationed in Morocco would toe the official line in Rabat.

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