In a recent analysis, Youssef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), noted that the greatest threat to stability in the Maghreb and Western Mediterranean was what he described as “the rejuvenation of the terrorism campaign” of the Polisario Front. The escalation by the Polisario comes in the midst of the latest United Nations effort to finally resolve the
Med-Atlantic received a leaked report from the Global Information System (GIS), an intelligence service used by the US Defense Department and other key Western governments, which details
's plans for POLISARIO. We're running it in full here: POLISARIO Congress Reflects the Major Threat to Algeria MaghrebStability as Enters a Power Struggle, With Itself and the West By Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, GIS. Algeria
The great threat to stability in the
Maghreband the Western Mediterraneanis not the ascent and spread of the Islamist-jihadist trend — which is extremely dangerous in the mid- to long-term — but is shaping up to be the rejuvenation of the terrorism campaign by the Frente POLISARIO (Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y de Rio de Oro).
POLISARIO is currently holding its special 12th congress in Tifariti, Moroccan Western Sahara (MWS), east of the berm. Because of the regional strategic dynamics, the calls for, and threats of, the resumption of the “armed struggle” against
emanating from this POLISARIO congress may prove a greater destabilizing factor for the entire Morocco Maghrebthan even the most recent jihadist bombing in . Algiers
There is for starters the matter of his insistence on calling the territory the “Moroccan Western Sahara.” Most of the world calls the former
And then there is his subtle bait and switch. Having warned us of “the rejuvenation of the terrorism campaign by the Frente POLISARIO” in the first paragraph, by the second this has morphed into a resumption of armed struggle. In fact, the question of Polisario terrorism is never again mentioned in the study. It’s hard to tell whether his branding Polisario a terrorist organization was just a slip of the pen or whether he just forgot to offer any proof. In any event, it is all too typical of MACP’s modus operandi that it should trumpet the terrorist threat of Polisario based on a study that offers absolutely zero evidence of such terrorism.
Now on to Bodansky’s ideas. What apparently initially got him all riled up was the Polisario party congress held in Tifariti in December 2007 where, he states, “the POLISARIO Frente resolved to rearm and prepare for a new war which would be launched by 2009 if the diplomatic process could not deliver POLISARIO’s demands for full independence.” Bodansky’s take on the Tifariti congress is just wrong. Nowhere at the congress did Polisario threaten war if its “demands for full independence” were not met. Polisario has unambiguously made it clear that self-determination through a referendum with independence as an option is what they seek, and that they will abide by whatever the people decide, be it independence, autonomy, or inclusion in
From this erroneous premise, Bodansky proceeds to make his case for quashing Polisario and supporting Moroccan hegemony. He makes three basic arguments: 1) that the Western Saharan people overwhelmingly support a return to
The Western Saharan people overwhelmingly support a return to Morocco
Here is what Bodansky has to say about the desires of the
Here is what Bodansky has to say about the desires of the
More than 15 years after the latest ceasefire agreement in MWS, the entire population — both in
and in the POLISARIO-run camps — has demonstrated a strong commitment to a return to stability, normalcy, and chance at the betterment of their own lives. The population of MWS has indicated, through elections and other indicators, a measurable determination to remain an integral part of the Moroccan rejuvenation and development. The MWS population has been passing this message for several years to the POLSARIO leadership via their expatriate kin in Morocco Western Europe. In contrast, the refugee population in the POLISARIO camps, mainly in the Tindouf area in , is exhausted from the closure, hardship, lack of prospects. The people see no hope for themselves in an Algeria torn by civil war and afflicted by economic misery…. Algeria
Simply put, the people of MWS realized that their own aspirations can be best achieved when they are part of
The Moroccan elections of early September 2007 provided an uncontroversial proof of this transformation of the people of MWS….the voter turnout in the MWS was extremely heavy….This constitutes a clear demonstration that the population in MWS considers itself Moroccan, is convinced that it has vital stakes in the political process in Rabat, and is determined to have its say there….Thus, the Moroccan parliamentary elections in MWS proved that the local population considers itself an integral part of a single, unified Morocco.
What is one to make of this kind of writing that opinionates with absolute and categorical certainty about things that demonstrably are not true? About thirty seconds of research is enough to realize that what he says is “clear” is totally unclear, what he says in “uncontroversial” is totally controversial. He chooses to not even mention the anti-Moroccan demonstrations and riots of the last few years that clearly debunk his theory of total Western Saharan support for Moroccan hegemony. He chooses to ignore the fact that the majority of people currently living in the occupied territory are subsidized Moroccan migrants and colonists with no legal ties to the
We Don’t Need Another Failed Mini-State
Meanwhile, the international community has become increasingly alarmed by failed ministates, such as Timor-Leste, and unchecked secessionism. Even the most ardent supporters of the “Sahrawi people” in the West now doubt the viability of a POLISARIO-run state. The West sees no need for another failed state and bastion of criminality, living off the smuggling routes between west-central
Africaand Western Europe. All expert studies have demonstrated that a POLISARIO-run state cannot sustain any other type of economy on its own; industrial and resource development are impossible without reliance on the infrastructure and human resources of while POLISARIO advocates the complete delinking of MWS from Morocco . Hence, particularly after the POLISARIO’s intransigence in the UN-run Manhasset, New York, talks in early August 2007, international support for Morocco’s autonomy plan — with all its possible imperfections — has started to grow. Morocco
While the issue of failed states is indeed serious, Bodansky’s attempt to convince us that the
POLISARIO’s threat to return to arms is directly related to the Algerian succession crisis
And here Bodansky really hits his stride:
However, what makes POLISARIO’s threat to resume the armed struggle so ominous — beyond the continued military build-up of POLISARIO in its Algerian sanctuaries — is its impact on the Algerian succession crisis. Pres. Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s health has deteriorated recently. With no heir apparent, inner struggles are intensifying within the Algerian Government. Most important is the succession struggle between the “army élite” and the “energy lobby”, both comprised of most senior officials and their cronies. Furthermore, each of these groups is further divided into pro-Russia, pro-France, and pro-US sub-groupings. Therefore, all decisions are made as a result of power-maneuvers between at least six “clans” which confront each other and win through transient and narrow-issue alliances.
The “army elite” and some in the “energy lobby” believe that crisis and war are the quickest way — a shortcut — to the post-Bouteflika throne. In recent years, Bouteflika preferred to stay neutral. When he had to take a side, he tilted with the “energy lobby”, which generated US and Western support. However, in recent months, Pres. Bouteflika has clearly tilted toward, and even openly sided with, the “army élite”. While Bouteflika made his move because he believes the military élite is better suited to sustain him in power and follow his policies, he will have to “pay” for the military support by heightening the regional tension even if it leads to war with
This is the nitty gritty of Bodansky’s argument – that Algerian perfidy is behind all of the Polisario saber-rattling or more specifically that Algerian President Bouteflika is purposely trying to destabilize the whole region to sustain himself in power. I haven’t a clue whether Bodansky’s analysis of the Algerian succession makes any sense at all. I do find it ironic, though, that what he accuses
Yossef Bodansky’s study is an elaborate fabrication masquerading as informed security analysis. He either doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about or else is intentionally falsifying the current situation in the
There is something altogether very sleazy about Bodansky's whole involvement with the Western Saharan issue. To begin with, there’s MACP’s reference to his study, which in itself makes the report very suspect. Then there’s the supposed leaking of the secret study to Medperson at Med-Atlantic; the stylistic similarities between Medperson’s posts and Bodansky’s study lead me to believe that Medperson IS Bodansky and he is leaking his own report.
And then there is the whole relationship I allude to in The Bodansky File between Bodansky, Marc. S. Ellenbogen, and Hassan Abouyoub, Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to King Mohamed VI of
In conclusion, I return to Bodansky’s warning that a resumption of Polisario’s armed struggle would be more destabilizing for the