Ghita Sebti, Rabat-After Bouteflika’s victory on the presidential elections of 1999, he gave an interview to the journalist Giselle Khoury, where he discussed ‘off the record’ his true position concerning the Moroccan Sahara. Miss Giselle Khoury is renowned as a respected journalist in the Arab world which brings unquestionable credibility to the president’s interview.
From the moment Bouteflika’s candid interview was published,in 2004 and 2012, in the journal Al Ousbae, it bore the legitimacy to be used for political or judicial means at the value it represents; a testimony from the highest power in Algeria. Morocco needs to be able to instrumentalize Bouteflika’s position in its diplomatic stratagems and exploit it as the great political weapon it is.
The following interview has been translated as accurately as possible, based on Colonel Mellouki’s french translation of the interview.
Question: What is your position on the Sahara issue? Does Morocco have rights in that territory?
Answer: The Sahara is a Moroccan land across generations from father to son, and I cannot deny what has been historically confirmed; but as president of the Algerian state, I am obligated to position myself against this blatant historical truth and to support the Polisario and its mentors for strict political reasons.
Question: Why is that? Are you insinuating that your position is to comply with the military who are notoriously hostile towards Morocco?
Answer: I do not flatter anyone, my dear Giselle; politics is my journey and my job, but the truth is, amongst the military, I have friends whom I trust blindly, and they believe that it is in Algeria’s interest to adopt such a hostile attitude towards Morocco, on the Sahara issue. I am under the obligation to side with them on this.
Question: You are an intelligent and political man. What is the secret of your personal hostility towards the thesis of the Moroccan Sahara, despite your long experience and your knowledge of history, which confirms such a thesis?
Answer: I am going to give you an answer that cannot be published. In all honesty, I confirm that the Sahara is a Moroccan territory and the entire world will eventually have to admit this truth, because history’s archives prove it, and a right remains a right even if injustice attempts to trample it. Especially, considering that the Polisario has no legitimacy or means, it doesn’t constitute an entity. The rumors about the existence of oil in that region are unfounded and will disappear with time. I know the Sahara very well, piece by piece, if it hosted oil, you would already find the multinationals competing for the exploitation rights on the field.
Question: Since it is as such, and that you recognize Morocco’s rights, why do you persevere in your opposition against Morocco, a country that has only managed to drive the colonizer (Spain) via pacific means? Why this hostility towards a country that has supported Algeria during its fight for independence? Have you forgotten that Moroccan troops had taken an important and active role in your struggle for independence? History will not forget that, even if you will.
Answer: The attitude towards Morocco is beyond me. I do not possess that power of decision.
Question: But you are the President of Algeria?
Answer: This is a significant political affair on which I have no authority. I plead with you Giselle to close this topic.
Mr. Bouteflika, then reiterates his desire that this conversation remain unpublished. A conversation motivated, he adds, by love for a person whom he highly respects (Miss Giselle Khoury).Now, this wouldn’t be the first time that a powerful man opened up to a beautiful women, but a president opening up to a well respected journalist on a highly sensitive political affair, represents a golden diplomatic opportunity for Morocco, one which we cannot afford to miss.
According to this interview, Bouteflika, despite being head of the Algerian state, claims to hold no political weight or decision power on the question of the Sahara. Given the importance of the military in the Algerian private and public spheres, this comes as no surprise. Indeed, the Algerian military elite holds a dominant role in Algerian politics ever since the independence in 1962 when the army emerged as the only effective powerbrokers in a shattered political landscape.
So, if Bouteflika holds no political sway on this issue, what makes the Sahara question, according to the Algerian military elite, an issue of national interest? The simplest of answers is to keep Morocco distracted and drive the country to exasperation so we would never even think of reclaiming the land that Algeria has already taken from Morocco. By recognizing that the Sahara is undeniably a Moroccan territory, “from father to son”, Bouteflika recognizes that by hosting the Polisario, in Tindouf (former Moroccan territory), Algeria hosts Moroccan rebels that have taken arms against their own country.
The previous “minister” of justice for the Polisario, Bouhali, has indeed officially recognized the presence of Al Quaeda and Mujao members inside the Tindouf camps, leaving no doubt as to the Polisario’s involvement in terrorist activities in the Sahel region. The Polisario has no legal stand or democratic legitimacy to aspire to the representation of the Saharawi population. The Polisario might have started as a political group based on marxist ideologies, but like the FARC group in Colombia, it gradually became a mafia by definition, involved in activities inclusive but not limited to narco-trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorist activities.
Hence, Algeria is sustaining and encouraging a terrorist organization under its authority. According to international law, such act is sanctioned by the international criminal court. It is Morocco’s responsibility to shed light on this reality.
In order to rally support for the Moroccan Sahara and bring an end to this long unresolved conflict, Morocco is gradually dismantling the weak Algerian human rights argument, widely overplayed to justify their support for the Polisario. The recent election of Morocco to the UN human rights council is proof of the international community’s recognition of King Mohamed VI’s role in improving human rights in recent years.
At the risk to sound melodramatic, beyond the importance of the territorial integrity of our country, the issue of the Sahara is in fact detrimental to international security. At this juncture, the world cannot afford having a failed and non viable state in the Sahel, a region that has become a terrorist haven, much like the Afghani region at its peak during the 90’s. There is no doubt that this conflict is an artificial one, created, financed and sustained by the Algerian military. We cannot allow the lies spread Algerian propaganda prevail. The Algerian population should realize that it is time they put pressure on their government to stop dumping the country’s resources into a conflict that has no reason to exist, and start investing their oil money to address issues that would actually benefit the Algerian economy and population.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or or redistribute