Congratulations to Conservative MP Andrew Murrison for raising the issue of the Western Sahara at PMQ’s today. Sadly, Murrison’s question… « What are the Prime Minister’s views on the situation in Western Sahara » was so vague that it enabled Brown to give a similarly vague and incomprehensible reply about the need to combat terrorism.
However, there have been state sponsored terrorists in Western Sahara for the last 35 years, since the Moroccans illegally invaded and occupied the country following Spain’s decision to end its Imperial hold on the territory. For those 35 years the Saharawi refugees have lived in tented camps in some of the most inhospitable conditions on the planet in Southern Algeria. I was fortunate enough to visit the UN Polisario refugee camps outside Tindouf about twelve years ago, and you could not fail to be impressed with the spirit, determination and organisation of the people in the camps.
here have been endless UN declarations, United States wish-washy attempts at reconciliation and calls for a referendum on who should rule the country, but constantly thwarted by the Moroccan Government. The rumours of oil and other mineral riches were sufficient to ensure none of the Western powers got too heavy with the Moroccans. The resilience of the Saharawi remains though, summed up by Aminatu Haidar, (pictured left) described as the Saharawi Gandhi, who has been on hunger strike in Lanzarote over a refusal to acknowledge Moroccan sovereignty over her country.
Perhaps if someone could try again at PMQ’s next week Gordon might get properly briefed on the situation and give a more respectable answer rather than wittering on about ‘terrorism’.
Bob Piper has been a Labour Councillor for the Abbey Ward in Sandwell, West Midlands, for 10 years. He is a lifelong supporter of Aston Villa Football Club and a follower of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.