Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Alle's comments on 'Resolution 1813: Casus Belli? Apparently Not'

[Alle] ... the meaning of the year-long extension is also that this was the last push within the UN for autonomy before the Bush admin moves out of office and that the US & France combined couldn't (or wouldn't) get any further than an oblique reference to realism and some non-binding praise for Morocco's plan, while self-determination is kept with zero change of wording. In that sense, it's a pretty comfortable place in which to dig in for Polisario and Algeria, compared to the alternatives. (Although of course much worse than c. 2004.)

The point is that the US cannot now push the process further under this presidency, on the UN/intl law track. This forces Morocco to take the initiative itself, before the elections, if they don't want to gamble on the next president being prepared to go further than Bush did.

The PJD recently called for the government to start implementing the autonomy initiative unilaterally; that is an interesting proposition, and perhaps the gov is also prepared to do something along those lines. Not sure it's a smart thing to do overall, though, since autonomy would then appear in all its messy reality, rather than remaining a 'daring' future prospect -- presumably it would also somewhat empower Sahrawis in the territories to organize/protest (= a free concession), or, if not, come off as a sham. So my bet is Morocco holds its ground and does nothing -- total stalemate until the end of the year.

After that: P[olisario] & A[lgeria] have taken a bad beating, but Morocco's strategy has now -- absent some dramatic development -- run its course. And despite extremely favorable circumstances, and all this pushing, the gov won nothing except an escape route from the Baker plan. Autonomy was the major card up its sleeve, to be used just once for public effect. Now it is spent, and still, international legitimacy is not even on the horizon. So what now?

Thanks for the feedback. I think I was arguing the same claim (year long extension partially relates to US politics) though you've done a better job of clarifying and adding context (e.g., PJD).

The problem with any Moroccan unilateralism is that there's no incentive for Rabat to implement autonomy unless France and the US are willing to make the dramatic move of recognizing Moroccan sovereignty. That is, from the Moroccan point of view, autonomy is a compromise, a step backwards, and not an inevitability. Indeed, the Moroccan regime sees autonomy as a liability given the growth of Berberism in the Rif and Draa regions. And it is no secret that some parties support autonomy in Western Sahara because they hope it will become a crack in the Makhzen system through which real political reform can be driven.

So for Morocco to 'magnanimously' implement autonomy, there has to be some major reward for such 'compromise'. Would the Bush administration make such a move and recognize Moroccan sovereignty vis-à-vis an autonomous Western Sahara (I'm sure Sarko would)? Would anyone in the US care if the White House did?

The major argument against supporting Moroccan unilateralism, for the White House, is that the UN establishment would not be too happy and Polisario would be left with no choice but to go back to war.

Unilateral autonomy: that there is the real Casus Belli.

There's obviously precedent for this, what with the Bush administration’s endorsement of Israeli unilateralism in Gaza and the West Bank wall, which is not a compromise but a solution pre-determined by realpolitik in the 1970s. The same could be said of Western Sahara.


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