Is there any limit to the chutzpah of J. Peter Pham? Recently he was quoted in an Associated Press article titled Senegal President Spends $200K To Lobby US -- about President Abdoulaye Wade’s contracting with a US lobbying group “to research and draft a ‘white paper’ showing that the 85-year-old was legally entitled to seek a third term in office, even though the Senegalese constitution was revised to impose a maximum of two.” Here is what Pham had to say:
"It saddens, but doesn't surprise me that it has come to this," said Peter Pham, the Africa director at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. "After more than a decade in office, Abdoulaye Wade is apparently so desperate to cling on to power that he has to hire a foreign law firm to conjure up legal 'facts' that the plain language and intent of the Senegalese constitution and the relevant amendment's legislative history would not otherwise support."
What I find so disturbing about Pham’s comments is his long history of making common cause with a whole host of Moroccan lobbyists and foreign agents who get paid far more than $200K by Mohammed VI to convince us that Morocco’s illegal occupation of the Western Sahara is in fact legal. Just two of the many Moroccan lobbyists operating in Washington, the Gabriel Company and the Moroccan-American Center for Policy, reported receiving over a million dollars from the Moroccan government in the latest Foreign Agents Registration Act report available online (for the six months ending June 30, 2011). Most of this money goes directly towards sugarcoating Morocco’s trashing of legality in the Western Sahara for Congressional consumption.
Let me remind you that the plain language and intent of the 1975 International Court of Justice opinion on the Western Sahara, not to mention innumerable UN resolutions, unambiguously established the illegality of Morocco’s occupation. For the umpteenth time, I repeat the Court’s conclusion "that the materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco....” Yet, despite the clarity of this opinion, Pham in his writings sees fit to conjure up all kinds of “facts” that the tribes of the Western Sahara owed allegiance to the Moroccan Sultan “from at least the Arab conquest of North Africa in the 7th century C.E.” and that Morocco’s invasion was only a reassertion of that historical sovereignty. (see Western Sahara: Time to Move Ahead, Realistically, Why Morocco Must Stay, and Moroccan Exceptionalism?)
Within the context of the Senegal article, what is even more ironic and damning about Pham’s writings on Morocco and the Western Sahara is his referencing of paid stooges and agents of the Moroccan government to bolster his case – for instance former U.S. ambassador to Morocco and current Morocco lobbyist Edward Gabriel, and Claude Moniquet’s European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, which reportedly is a client of the Moroccan embassy in Brussels. Furthermore, Pham is prominently listed as an expert source on the new website (Morocco on the Move) of the Moroccan-American Center for Policy (MACP), Morocco’s factually challenged lobbying organization in the United States. Robert M. Holley, head of the MACP, has been for years Rabat’s liar for hire in Washington.
It saddens but doesn’t surprise me that Pham should be so critical of President Wade’s attempt to rewrite reality and distort legality with the help of paid lobbyists, while at the same time lauding and colluding with Mohammed VI’s longtime million-dollar lobbying efforts in Washington to do pretty much the same thing. Only difference I can see is that Wade is trying to illegally cling to power and Mo VI is trying illegally to cling to the Western Sahara. I say it doesn’t surprise me because Pham is the master of the double-standard. His recent championing of South Sudanese independence and simultaneous rejection of independence for the Western Sahara is a case in point. Pham’s selective application of the standards of legality and feasibility are completely incomprehensible, given the Western Sahara’s far better claims to self-determination (as an ex-colony) and successful statehood (note, for starters, its much higher developmental numbers for literacy, education. paved roads, etc. and lack of border and ethnic/tribal issues).
J. Peter Pham’s sadness at the lobbying shenanigans of President Wade of Senegal is pure unadulterated hypocrisy given his delight with the far worse shenanigans of the king of Morocco.