What If Western Saharans Mattered?

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, May 11, 2022

If I object, in the United States, to the Israeli government’s brutal occupation of Palestine, most people will not only know what I’m talking about but also understand immediately what a hateful antisemite I must be.

If, on the other hand, I object, in the United States, to Morocco’s brutal occupation of Western Sahara, most people will have no idea what I’m talking about. Isn’t that actually worse?

Remarkably, the Moroccan government is armed, trained, and supported by the U.S. government, and escalated its brutality in response to a tweet by then-President Donald Trump, never corrected by Joe Biden.

Yet the presence of unarmed U.S. civilian protectors in Morocco prevent rapes and assaults and all sorts of violence simply by virtue of their being from the U.S. Even in the midst of atrocities committed with U.S. weapons, it is U.S. lives that matter.

Meanwhile, virtually nobody in the United States has any idea what’s going on.

Among the U.S. activists I’ve spoken with via video calls to Western Sahara in recent weeks are Tim Pluta (normally a World BEYOND War organizer in Spain) and Ruth McDonough, a former teacher from New Hampshire. Ruth is currently fasting, and the Moroccan military just showed up pretending to be concerned medical personnel able to whisk her off to a hospital. They failed.

Tim and Ruth are in the town of Boujdour, in the home of human rights activist Sultana Khaya, whose house was under siege for over a year, who was raped in her home with her mother tied up and watching, who earlier had one eye gouged out by the Moroccan military. Activists in Western Sahara are viciously attacked if there are no U.S. citizens present. When a group of U.S. citizens stealthily broke the siege by entering the Khaya house in March, the Moroccan military generally backed off. Elated friends even started visiting, until it became known that they would be attacked and beaten afterwards.

If there were U.S. corporate media outlets that cared, they’d have a far easier demonization job than they have with Vladimir Putin. The U.S.-backed ruler of Morocco is named “His Majesty the King Mohammed the Sixth, Commander of the Faithful, May God Grant Him Victory.”

King Mohammed VI became king in 1999, with the unusual qualifications for the job of his father dying and his own heart beating — oh, and being a descendant of Muhammad. The King is divorced. He travels the world taking more selfies than Elizabeth Warren, including with U.S. presidents and British royalty.

May God Grant Him Victory’s education included studying in Brussels with then-President of the European Commission Jacques Delors, and studying at the French University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. In 1994 he became Commander in Chief of the Royal Moroccan Army.

The King and his family and government are famously corrupt, with some of that corruption having been exposed by WikiLeaks and The Guardian. As of 2015, Commander of the Faithful was listed by Forbes as the fifth richest person in Africa, with $5.7 billion.

Somebody explain to me why U.S. citizens should have to abandon their lives and go sit by as shields, as lives-that-matter, in Western Sahara, to prevent the thugs of a corrupt billionaire from brutalizing people with U.S. weapons and U.S. backing.

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