Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western Sahara

Kerry Kennedy, of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, recently visited the Western Sahara and refugee camps in Algeria.  She penned a piece about her visit for the Huffington Post, which relays a harrowing tale of secret police possibly harassing and beating a woman, something she observed while travelling with her 17-year-old daughter and RFK Center colleagues in El Aaiún, Western Sahara, a disputed territory in Morocco.

Her companions included Aminatou Haidar, an ally of the Algerian Government masquerading as a human rights activist. Her campaigns to help the indigenous Sahrawi, while well-intentioned, often seem clouded by political motivations rather than driven by facts. In the refugee camps, thousands are held hostage by the Western Sahara Polisario Front (a separatist group) and their Algerian patrons. Their status as hostages is often overlooked by Haidar and the RFK Center. The diplomatic relations between the Polisario and Moroccan government are in a a constant state of tension, as citizens are held in the balance.  Haidar relies on the Kennedy Center for visibility and credibility. With Kennedy's visit, she received just that.

A source within the Moroccan government, not authorized to speak on the record but with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Kennedy's visit, expressed concern for the peace process. "Kennedy and her team, after asking for Moroccan assistance to organize the trip, refused to meet with anyone not supportive of the Polisario." Further, the official was adamant that the Moroccan government communicated to Kennedy and the RFK Center they were "welcome here (Morocco,) could stay as long as they want, and we are pleased to arrange meetings with Moroccans and Sahrawis with differing views than those within the Polisario."
Morocco is an American ally and has been recognized by both Democratic and Republican administrations as helpful to fighting terrorism and spreading democracy. Stability is desperately needed in the Sahel.

The Moroccan government, supported by the U.S., France, and other allies, has tried to bring an end to the suffering across the Sahel. The Polisario has been linked to al Qaeda in the Maghreb, AQIM, and other troubling violations.

Kennedy's status as a human rights activist conveys a credibility to her claims. As an advocate for humanitarian causes, I empathize with Kerry Kennedy's espoused desire for justice and for peace. But the facts in the Western Sahara do not support Kennedy or Haidar's assertions.

As advocates, we want to shed light on suffering,  and use that light to bring transparency to the diplomatic process and to our understanding of complicated foreign political problems. Some of us feel obligated to serve, and in developing relationships with diaspora and local actors, we become overwhelmed.

Kennedy isn't just a lone advocate though; she is representing the RFK Center, which develops and advocates for specific policies. She must be held accountable for the positions she advocates, and when spreading propaganda for a foreign entity like the Western Sahara's Polisario or  Algeria's government, the honest thing to do would be to register as a foreign agent.

Comments (12)  

+2 #1 RE: Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western SaharaMorcelli 2012-08-31 12:12
Elizabeth Blackney has been defending Morocco's side in every article she wrote. You guesses it, she is a proud Republican. Republicans have always been appreciative to Morocco from Reagan to Bush II. The democrats not so much, they'll give Morocco the good talk, and then ask their actual ambassador to defend Christopher Ross the current UN envoy by any means necessary. When you go vote in November, please remember this fact.
Referring to the other article about the king's hand kissing, a medieval habit imposed by royal dynasties, I sadly agree with the Syrian UN ambassador, He was spot on. No man should bow to another man or woman and kiss his/her hands in 2012. If the king cares for his so called subjects, he should immediately stop this degrading habit. He has nothing to fear, he will still be a king, Moroccans will not respect him less. As for the Sahara, I also agree with the Syrian ambassador, and here is why: why would The Moroccan Minister said That "Morocco would like to see a peaceful political solution in Syria, where the Syrian government and opposition groups debate freely on the future of their country"
WHAT?? Morocco wants the Syrian people to debate a genocidal Bashar who killed 1000s of his own people when all major allies stated that Bashar is dead man walking to them??
I mean can you realize that Morocco wants to give a chance to someone who butchered dozens of Syrian towns? Does our government led by M6 -not Benkirane- represent the will of Moroccans who obviously want to see Bashar brought to Justice?
Is this the government that you want to entrust with the Sahara dossier?

The Syrian ambassador statement should teach the Moroccan government led by this king a lesson and to push them to do everything possible to have Bashar removed and not give him a pass to kill his own people and go after the Moroccan Sahara.

to make it short:
Abolish the degrading hand kissing and do not support a polical solution between Bashar and his victims. what's so hard about it?
+2 #2 RE: Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western SaharaMorcelli 2012-08-31 12:55
Mr. Chaoui,
As much as I agree with you, you failed to mention the real culprit in this issue. You and I and everyone else know that the Sahara dossier is in the hands of one person, he has the last word, and nothing happens without his agreement.
You are a smart person and you know that our government is helpless and no one in this government would be able to take any such decision without the knowledge of the big boss.
We will not be serving our country if we keep blaming someone else. There is time when the false propaganda has to stop. There is not secret about the anomosity between Morocco and Algeria, some we score and other times they do, one thing we should not do is to lower our standards and become propagandists like them. Let them be stuch in the past, let then use the tricks of the cold war, we need to go beyond the blame game and start acting the way countries behave in 2012. Let's start by implementing a real autonomy in the Moroccan Sahara and ask the Sahraouis in the Tindouf camps to join their families. Let's end the lip service that lasted 39 years without anything to show for.

Many of us lived here for decades and we get disgusted at out amateurish Moroccan diplomacy so let's help our country by being truthful. Down with MAP and Le matin to Sahara.

Moroccan Patriot
+6 #3 Republicans for SaleMoroccan Patriot 2012-08-31 16:05
There is generally not much difference between Republicans and Democrats, however, Republicans are known to have slightly lower prices to sell their integrity.

Morocco should not be involved in Syria or Iran. What is the Moroccan interest in Iran or Syria? I will tell you... Morocco does what israel tells them to do. They have no foreign policy that actually represents Moroccan interests, if they did - the Sahara would be recognized by our American, "allies".

America will NEVER recognize the Sahara as part of Morocco. They will pay lip service to it - but they will NEVER officially recognize it. This is a fact. It is simply not in America's interest to have a more powerful Country, no matter how under their thumb it is.

US policy is to break countries apart. US Policy is to make all other countries weaker by creating internal strife that allows for Americans to sell weapons and providing economic opportunities that American companies can capitalize on - how is recognizing the Western Sahara going to help American interests?

Morocco has talented people in every ministry EXCEPT the Foreign Ministry. They are forever clueless there - they need to start thinking in terms of the intersts of their of the countries they deal with, until they do so, Moroccan interests will never be served.
+2 #4 RE: Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western SaharaMorcelli 2012-08-31 20:22
Under the Republicans:
Morocco scored the Millenium Challenge Account
The free trade Agreement
Tagging the autonomy as " serious ad credible"
Non member Nato ally a recommendation from BUSH
Freedom of our POWs from Tindouf ALgeria
Saved by Collin Powell a republican from Aznar embarrassing the heck out of Morocco regarding the Leila rock.

Under The democrats and under Obama specifically.
Morocco scored ZERO.

Under Obama and under pressure from Hillary, Morocco cut its diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria, in return Morocco was betrayed by the current US ambassador who unequivocally supports Christopher Ross whose work is described by the Moroccans are "biased and unbalanced"
I m telling you people, I too voted for Obama 4 years ago, well guess what? I too was gullible by his pretty speeches about change.

Well beat that! those of you who want to vote for Obama.
Romney will never side with a rebel organization puppet-ed by Algerian leaders from the soviet era.
+2 #5 LaayouneIberkak 2012-09-01 01:52
El Aaiún .. The only times I noticed it spelled this way in the last 37 years was when an article was written by pro Polisario or Algeria. Surprisingly this time is a pro Moroccan article!!.. It is spelled Laayoune by Moroccans who control it and built it. It was a very small town before 1975. Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara region, is spelled that way almost everywhere including Google maps.

The reason the Americans and Europeans would not recognize the Moroccan sovereignty over this disputed region is not because they wanted Morocco divided but in fear of upsetting the Algerian regime with whom they have big interests. Things would be totally different the day when Algerian oil or gas is no longer much needed.
Another Algerian
-5 #6 RE: Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western SaharaAnother Algerian 2012-09-01 14:42
Hello All, I hope you had a good ramadan and eid. Do not worry guys, the statut-quo will stay for as long as Europe finds their interest in the statut-quo. Spain will never accept a full and genuine soveriegnty on WS by Morocco. The reason? Strategy, Spain considers North Africa as its mains threat. France will continue to support Morocco against Algeria as this, the French think, will weaken Algeria out of revenge against Algeria's independence. Isreal they would prefer a good/clever ennemy to a stupid ally, as the saying goes, and the US have been convinced by Algeria, the only arabic/islamic country who sustained a horrible islamist terrorism civil war, they know that Algerian poepole have no equivalent in the Arab world, byt at the same time they do not want to let Algeria dominate the Maghreb. They wait and see.
-7 #7 MrRiz1 2012-09-02 22:38
Western Sahara belongs to the sahrawi's. It is NOT a part of morocco. Your king stated that they will be given a full referendum if they did not want to be a part of Morocco. Why lie to get what you want, speak the truth. Just like you treated berbers in your country like second class citizens, where they could not even name their children with berber name's. The sahwari's don't want this. As least Algeria don't dictate and remove your human rights to name your own kids.
S Hass
+2 #8 The clanS Hass 2012-09-03 15:09
Who has not heard about the kennedy clan, a troubled family without any acceptble CVs!!!!! . Regards from Tetouan
Other Riffi
-1 #9 RE: Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western SaharaOther Riffi 2012-09-05 16:19
Why the monarch of Morocco is adviced by crooks and thieves like Majidi and El Himma?And Fessi-fihri who has now 4 posts?4 payments for doing nothing?

He cant dispose of them because they know secrets about him... Guess what secrets.
So i think this is history repeated, just like the Trabelsi and Ben Ali story
ayoub kabli
+1 #10 selfemployedayoub kabli 2012-09-12 15:09
Lets make it clear as there is no argument here. even if John F Kennedy himself got out of his grave and went to Tindouf. the Sahara is and will always remain Moroccan.
Enough said. to the rest of the haters, you can always bury your heads in the golden Sahara sand in La7youne and smell the camel manure.
0 #11 RE: Kerry Kennedy: Tourism In Western SaharaMouha 2012-09-18 15:06
You really think we Moroccans should give credibility to Syrian regime that is slaughtering their own citizens and they have audacicity to criticize moroccon for kissing the kings hand .....?????? Let the Syrians officials protect their own people before giving lessons to Moroccans .and yes Ws is historically Moroccan.nice day to you
David Lippiatt
-1 #12 President of WE InternationalDavid Lippiatt 2012-10-08 14:17
Clearly the writer of above article is ill infromed, I have been to the Saharwi refugee camps, and have met with people at all levels, from drivers, to shop owners, camel herders, musicians, teachers, government officials, NGO workers, including the president Abeleziz and his family. I have stayed in government hospitality, and with families in their tents. I have even met with moroccan former prisoners. No one is kept in the camps against their will. The Saharawi people want freedom. They ar want a peaceful resolution, and to returning to their homeland, and a right to self determination. The Polisaro are not linked to Al Qaeda, that is a lie perpetrated by the Moroccan goverment, something that was clearly established in wikileaks. Even Hillary Clinton a Moroccan friend has said that.

Aminatou Haidar, is not a pupit of the Algerian goverment, that is another lie. She would not suffer the abuse, imprisonment,to rture for Algeria, she would suffer, because whe wants freedom for her homeland. A free Western Sahara.

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