The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released a new report on the situtation in Western Sahara, and it's even lamer than what Kofi Annan used to produce. The short version is, as usual, that there has been absolutely no progress. He admits that there is virtually no hope of a voluntary mutual agreement, but, lacking the will to confront either party, argues that they should be given more time to squander. The only moderately interesting paragraphs are these:
[A]s these fundamental positions [of Morocco and Polisario] were mutually exclusive, they prevented each party from seriously discussing the other party’s proposal. As a result, the parties did, indeed, express their views and even interacted with one another, but they mainly did so by rejecting the views of the other party, and there was hardly any exchange that could in earnest be characterized as negotiations.Oh, no really? We are shocked, shocked. And perplexed, because who could conceivably want negotiations to drag on forever?
Although the fact that two meetings have taken place is a cause for satisfaction, my Personal Envoy is concerned at the deficient implementation of a unanimously adopted Security Council resolution that at the time of its adoption was hailed as a breakthrough in dealing with the question of Western Sahara. In the above-mentioned communiqué issued after the second meeting, the parties acknowledged that the current status quo was unacceptable, but while up to now that qualification always referred to the dilemma of either negotiations or status quo, we now risk entering a protracted stage of negotiations and status quo.
It is true that the resolution is more elaborate about the Moroccan proposal than about that ofThis would seem a veiled rebuke of Morocco's position, which has increasingly moved towards claiming that their proposal is the only one meriting discussion. On the other hand, it doesn't mean much as long as there is "no exchange that could in earnest be characterized as negotiations".
the Frente Polisario, but what matters in the end is that the Security Council has taken note of both proposals in the same resolution in which it has called upon parties to enter into negotiations. Consequently, both proposals are on the agenda and must be discussed.
In a half-hearted attempt to adress that point -- the core problem -- Ban Ki-moon further suggests that Morocco and Polisario should start off discussing their respective proposals under the understanding that they have accepted nothing (i.e, a variant of van Walsum's old approach, which was last stated in the curious affair of the magical mystery report). This means that Polisario should give constructive opinions on the Moroccan autonomy proposal even while remaining committed to a self-determination referendum, and that Morocco should also constructively discuss post-independence arrangements for Western Sahara, even while remaining opposed to anything but autonomy. The hope is that this would help unlock the psychological blocks, and entice Polisario into thinking seriously about autonomy. (And, theoretically, Morocco about independence; but that part is mostly for formal symmetry.)
Also, he is unusually elaborate on human rights, referring to the beatings of Sahrawi students in Morocco; complains that the funding for family visits between the camps hasn't been provided and that the program risks being cut off; and that the next step in confidence-building measures can now start, involving a non-political seminar on Hassaniyya culture between Sahrawis from the two sides.
- No .eh for the Sahrawis: ICANN decided to not decide anything.
- Sparring at the UN human rights council, over its politically inspired refusal to release the 2006 report on Western Sahara. (Leaked version here.) [correction. see comments.]
- Continued Koalagate madness at Will's.
- A French judge requests the extradition of five Moroccans in the 1965 Ben Barka disappearance, including Makhzen mainstay and top-ranking army general Hosni Benslimane.
- French PM Sarkozy visits Morocco, restates Chirac's position and supports autonomy for Western Sahara.
- An interesting Global Voices interview with Bouba, the Moroccan-Sahrawi-Amazigh blogger.
- ASVDH leaders acquitted of new charges, but still in jail.
- Morocco again demands a full census of Sahrawis in Tindouf.
- More Sahrawi-whacking in the territories, now of a particularly distasteful kind.
- Awaiting the full RSF reports, the Algerian government keeps hounding journalists.