A brief recap:
In 1975, in violation of a World Court judgement, Morocco invaded the former Spanish colony and effectively annexed it. The people who lived in the territory, the Sahrawi, fled in their thousands as their villages were burned and livestock slaughtered.Also, Morocco moved hundreds of thousands of Moroccans to Western Sahara to change its demographics and ensure that it would not be separated again.
Tens of thousands were driven into refugee camps across the border with Algeria where they remain to this day, surviving as best they can on pitiful levels of humanitarian aid. Those who stayed in their homes face severe repression in a police state which maintains an armed force over 100,000 strong for a population of just 500,000.
Morocco is also far more aggressive than Israel when it comes to how people treat it. The latest example comes from how Morocco reacted when Ban Ki Moon referred to the Western Sahara as occupied:
Escalating an angry dispute with the leader of the United Nations, Morocco gave the organization a 72-hour deadline on Thursday to evacuate 84 members of its mission in the disputed Western Sahara territory.Morocco routinely arrests journalists who report on protests by the Sahrawi. It acts with an impunity and aggression far beyond what Israel has ever done.
The Moroccan order threatened to paralyze the work of the mission, which has played a peacekeeping role for 25 years.
The United Nations Security Council held urgent private consultations on Thursday afternoon over the Moroccan order, which came a day after Morocco announced a big cut in civilian support for the mission; withdrawal of its $3 million in financial support; and other unspecified steps.
The president of the Security Council for March, Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of Angola, emerged later to tell reporters that members were continuing to talk and that they wanted to ensure the mission’s stability. He offered no specifics but said, “every problem has a solution.”
The moves suddenly transformed Western Sahara, a former Spanish protectorate riven by a war for independence after it was seized by Morocco in 1975, from a sensitive, percolating issue into something more pressing.
It complicated the Security Council’s agenda in the midst of crises in Syria, Yemen, Libya and other hot spots.
The Moroccan foreign minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, who held a tense meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday at Mr. Ban’s office at the United Nations, said his country’s actions were a response to what he called Mr. Ban’s “unacceptable statements and condemnable actions” in describing Western Sahara as an occupied region.
Mr. Ban used that terminology during a trip this month to neighboring Algeria, where he visited a camp for Western Sahara refugees.
In an unusually blunt response, Mr. Ban reiterated to the foreign minister that Western Sahara’s status had yet to be decided. Mr. Ban also said he had been personally offended by protests directed at him and the United Nations in Morocco last Sunday over his perceived bias on the Western Sahara dispute.
And it is rewarded. The UN and EU refuse to call the Western Sahara "occupied," but "disputed," as this NYT article does. There is very little press coverage about the repression and thuggery practiced by Moroccan troops. Even HRW and Amnesty, whose members have been expelled from Morocco, refuse to call Western Sahara "occupied."
The only difference I have found is that Israel didn't annex the West Bank, and says that its status is disputed. Yet Jerusalem, which Israel does claim, is never referred to as "disputed" by the media or the UN and EU.
In other words, Morocco plays hardball, and it is rewarded by the people it treats with contempt. Israel tries to act like a good citizen and accommodate those who are hostile to its very existence and who use any excuse they can to damn the Jewish state - and it results in more negative coverage and contempt by the world community for its actions.
There is a lesson or two here.
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