“Our struggle is neither a colored revolution nor an attempt of separatism”

“Our struggle is neither a colored revolution nor an attempt of separatism”

Aydınlık newspaper and Ulusal Kanal TV channel from Türkiye met with Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Foreign Minister Mohamed Sidati. Sidati answered questions of journalists Kıvanç Özdal and Ali Rıza Taşdelen at the Boujdour Refugee Camp of the Polisario Front on the border of Algeria and Western Sahara.

From Spanish colonialism to Moroccan occupation

Kıvanç Özdal: Today here is taking place an international press conference regarding the Western Sahara issue. Could you explain to us what it is exactly?

Western Sahara is the land of the Sahrawi people, a region located on the Atlantic coast, bordered by Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania. It suffered 86 years, almost a century, of Spanish colonization. Like all peoples in the world, the Sahrawi people desired and continue to desire their freedom. So, they began to struggle against Spanish colonialism.

It’s important to remember that Western Sahara was one of the last countries to be colonized. Just like liberation struggles in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Ghana, the Sahrawi people resisted the colonizers. Just when they were about to reap the rewards of their sacrifices and struggles, unfortunately, neighboring countries decided to invade the region.

Western Sahara was occupied because it’s a very rich country, with abundant minerals, wealth and one of the richest coastlines in the world in terms of fish resources. After their first liberation struggle against Spain, the Sahrawi people had to confront their neighbors, mainly Morocco and Mauritania. Algeria opened its doors to Sahrawi refugees and showed solidarity. The United Nations has stated that the issue of Western Sahara is a decolonization issue.

“The UN must fulfill its mission”

This is a matter that the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara can resolve. The UN is responsible for the right to self-determination and should be the guardian of that right. The UN has been adopting resolutions supporting the right to self-determination for 50 years. Unfortunately, Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara prevents the exercise of the right to self-determination and the resolution of the issue through a free and democratic referendum, as done in all the colonies of the world.

The UN is currently trying to resolve the issue through mediation. There is a structure known as the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). MINURSO is not exercising its mandate and cannot fulfill its mission for the Sahrawi people. The wealth of Western Sahara is being illegally exploited by Morocco. You yourself witnessed thousands of Sahrawi refugees lack the necessary means to survive and resist.

Establishment of state and joining the African Union

There’s another dimension to the conflict in Western Sahara: The African dimension. The Sahrawi Republic, declared in 1976, was supported by African peoples. Today, it is a member of the African Union.

This membership means that more than 81 countries worldwide recognize the Sahrawi Republic, thus the Sahrawi people have relations with people in Latin America, Asia and Africa. We also have representations in Europe, and we try to defend our legitimate cause. That’s why this informative conference is very important. Above all, Morocco and its allies wage a terrible war, which pushes the Sahrawi people into being forgotten.

“Our struggle is neither a colored revolution nor separatist”

The issue of Western Sahara is not well-known in Türkiye as well as the world generally. Our media resources are limited compared to efforts to marginalize and distort the struggle of the Sahrawi people.

The struggle of the Sahrawi people is neither a colored revolution nor an attempt of separatism. It is a decolonization struggle recognized by the UN. The purpose of this conference is to ensure better awareness in public opinion and to create a kind of network.

What we expect from a big country like Türkiye is to assist the Sahrawi people in gaining their humanitarian rights, in other words, in implementing UN resolutions and finding an internationally legal solution.

“The US, Israel and France are behind Morocco”

Ali Rıza Taşdelen: Mr. Minister, we know that the US and Israel stand strong behind the occupation of Morocco. In this regard, do you see any similarity between the situation in Palestine and Ukraine?

Firstly, the Western Sahara issue is a matter of decolonization in essence. In other words, the solution lies in the implementation of international law, especially the right to self-determination. The Sahrawi people have experienced a terrible war, and as a result, many of them sought refuge in Algeria. The war continues today. Morocco is using drones and sophisticated weapons to annihilate the Sahrawi people.

As you said, Morocco benefits from absurd aids coming from the US and Israel to wage war against the Sahrawi people. France is also a part. And this is very, very, very alarming.

“We have many common points with the Palestinian people”

The Palestinian issue is very similar to the Sahrawi issue. Both these peoples are fighting for their rights and are subjected to an occupation war. A war of attrition, a deadly and very brutal war. That’s why we have many common points with the Palestinian people.

The UN did nothing for a two-state solution. That is also like Western Sahara. So, there is a recurring theme: a problem of rights and international law. The law should prevail over force in Western Sahara and Palestine. That is how we can have functioning relations in the world. In this regard, what we see in the war in Ukraine and in coalitions between Western countries and others is distressing.

Russia and China’s stances: Honorable, but not sufficient

Ali Rıza Taşdelen: A new world is emerging, led by Russia and China opposite the Atlantic camp. How do you see your relations with Russia and China, and their attitudes towards the Moroccan occupation?

We see that in the face of so much injustice, so much disorder on a global scale, new forces are emerging which are respectful of international law. I mean the steps taken by countries like Russia, China and BRICS.

Russia and China are members of the Security Council of the UN. Security Council members are responsible for and guarantors of the Sahrawi people exercising their right to self-determination. So, their role will always be important.

As far as we could observe, Russia has always been insistent on the implementation of decisions. China is now a member responsible for peace and should and can do more. Their stances are honorable, but not sufficient. I must say that these countries should push the international community and especially the Security Council to make progress on the Western Sahara issue, especially in the face of veto attempts by France or the US. So, I believe they have done a lot and can do more. In any case, I must say that they at least respect the right to self-determination. They respect the right to self-determination and international legality.

Mr. Minister, thank you very much for answering our questions. This will give the Turkish people a chance to better understand the Western Sahara issue.

I hope so. Thank you very much.

United World International

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June 2024