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martedì 10 novembre 2015
Morocco - Green March: Hassan II, Boumediene, Bouteflika and Kissinger
Houari Boumedienne, Hassan II, Henry Kissinger, and some Abdelaziz Bouteflika ... Unpublished Documents reveal the secrets of the negotiations around the Moroccan epic.
Recently declassified internal documents of the US State Department over the period 1974-1976, when a Dr. Henry Kissinger served as Secretary of State for President Gerald Ford, are, as regards the Western Sahara crisis , edifying. Kissinger's will not to be dragged into a conflict that juvenile judge is matched only by his ignorance, virtually claimed, a folder which he really grasps at the approach of the March green when the risk of war between Morocco, Spain and Algeria appears imminent him.
By the end of 1973 yet, as Franco's Spain announced its intention to organize a self-determination referendum term in its colony, Rabat puts Washington keeps about: we are your allies, you have to we at Kenitra, two communication stations, you must clearly choose sides. In an interview with one of the assistants Kissinger, the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Ahmed Benhima, gets the message: "If Western Sahara becomes independent", he said, it means that the socialist Algeria pro-Soviet and will have "access to the Atlantic." But the Morocco "will never accept to be surrounded and isolated".
US diplomatic cables from 1974 show a King Hassan extremely concerned about the military imbalance between the kingdom and its Algerian neighbor. The sovereign is constantly harassing her visitors from Washington with his shopping list: he wants M60 tanks, planes F5, missiles, 155 mm guns in order to compete with the Mig 21 and T62 tanks Houari Boumedienne. The Americans argue, pinaillent, engaged in dropper and accept that some of this weaponry is supplied indirectly by taking on the stocks of Iranian and Jordanian armies.
The Kissinger's indifference to the Sahara
CIA memo, dated September 6, 1974: "The King hopes the campaign he launched to recover the Spanish Sahara strengthen its position and distract the view of economic and social problems facing the country [...]. But if it fails, the internal pressures as they may well be the way down, and if a war breaks out between the Moroccan and Algerian armies, the outcome is unpredictable. "What compromise solution to avoid it? The CIA, which then directs William Colby, advance an idea, the partition: "The North, with phosphate, Morocco; south to Mauritania; a corridor secured for Algeria to export its iron ore Tindouf; participation of Spanish interests in the exploitation of the territory. "
In fact, for a whole period of my life, I did not know where was this place and I do not wear me wrong! Confesses Kissinger
When meeting this folder with its interlocutors, the Secretary of State Kissinger has an obsession: not to interfere. And for better understanding, it does not hesitates to show disinterest, ignorance and even a certain amount of contempt. Discussion with the Spanish Foreign Minister Pedro Cortina, October 9, 1974: "I'll tell you, privately and as a political analyst: the future of the Spanish Sahara does not seem especially bright. It is like that of Guinea-Bissau or Upper Volta. The world can very well survive without the Spanish Sahara. [...] In fact, for a whole period of my life, I did not know where was this place and I do not wear me wrong!
Interview with President Boumedienne in Algiers, October 14, about the Sahrawis living in the territory: "I really hard to get excited about those 40,000 people who probably have no idea of where they live. "The next day, Kissinger was received by Hassan II in Rabat. While the king said certain that the International Court of Justice is about to rule in favor of the Moroccan Sahara, the Secretary of State sighs: "You know, many states unfortunately are nonsense, like Guinea Bissau or the Western Sahara. "A nonchalance does not exclude flattery. At Hassan II, the good doctor continues to express his admiration to him. And Boumedienne, he says: "In the long term, it is inevitable: the Algeria will become the dominant power in the Maghreb. "
Despite Kissinger's warnings, Hassan II project continues
A year later, in October 1975 the tension, which has been rising in recent months, reached its climax, and Kissinger is forced to take the matter seriously. CIA memo warning, signed William Colby, October 3, 1975: "King Hassan, under pressure from the army, decided to invade the Spanish Sahara in the next three weeks. The King is confident because he believes that most of the Spanish troops is poorly trained and refuse the fight. The Moroccans are also skeptical about a possible intervention of the Algerian army, they could, as a deterrent, to use the allied troops detachments: Syrians, Egyptians, Palestinians and Saudis may [...]. Our view is that King Hassan underestimates seriously the Spaniards of response capability to its invasion plan. In case of direct intervention of Algeria, Moroccans could record some initial successes due to their numerical superiority in the region. But the 200 Algerians fighting hard -avions may change the situation quickly to 40 Moroccan devices, as the Algerian troops are generally better trained and equipped. "
Alerted, Kissinger reacted immediately. On October 4, via its ambassador in Rabat, he sent Hassan II a warning message: "Your Majesty [...], there are reports that the government of Morocco is planning an imminent military action in the Spanish Sahara. I hope that these reports are baseless, but if they reflect reality, I would strongly advise you not to take anything like it. Indeed, we believe that any military operation of this type will turn Morocco severe disadvantage, both military and political. "The same day, receiving the Cortina Spanish minister in Washington, he says," I think he [the king] may receive a real beating. "
But Hassan II, unperturbed, continues its project. On October 16, a few hours after the publication of the opinion of the International Court of Justice, he announced the organization of a Green March in order to "expel the infidels from the Moroccan colonial soil." Henry Kissinger begs him to give up in exchange for a commitment by Spain to evacuate the Sahara on 1 February 1976 and the organization of a self-determination referendum under the auspices of the UN, which administer so Provisional, territory - unthinkable prospect in the eyes of the king.
Behind the crisis, the Soviet Union?
On October 29, Joseph Sisco, one of the assistant of Kissinger meets with Secretary General of the UN Kurt Waldheim, who comes to talk to Algiers Houari Boumedienne. Waldheim described his Algerian President nervous, restless and uneasy, "Hassan is playing with fire," said her Boumedienne. "Dr. Kissinger must immediately intervene in order that cancels the March, because Algeria does not tolerate. "Immediately, the Secretary of State ordered its ambassador to Algiers to visit the president with a powerless message: the United States do what they can, but Hassan does not listen and their leverage over are limited to it. "Walk This threatens the stability of the Maghreb and the Arab world, warns Boumedienne. The situation will become uncontrollable. People will die. Will start an armed struggle without anyone noticing the end. Algeria has always avoided cause problems Hassan II, but she knows how to do it if necessary. [...] Morocco has no interest in conflict with the Algerian revolution, but the Algerians are not afraid of this possibility. We are revolutionaries, we used the battle. I have no throne to lose, unlike Hassan. If I disappear, another fighter will take my place. "
On November 2, while 350,000 marchers gathered in Tarfaya, a few kilometers from the border with the Sahara, the Spanish Minister Cortina Kissinger sends an alert message: "Our armed forces have been ordered to reject all attempted invasion. Hassan plays with his throne and wants to distract his opinion of its internal problems. Spain does not intend to pay for his mistakes. I ask you to do everything in your power to avoid the tragic consequences that this march will not fail to have. "
Immediately, Kissinger cable to the king a message urging him to exercise "calm" and "patience" and to use these "leadership qualities that state, Your Majesty, you have accustomed us." Nothing will: In its response, the next day, Hassan II Kissinger to explain that this crisis is actually caused by ... the Soviet Union, of which Algeria is a pawn in the region. And 6 November, the Green March Tah crosses the border without Spanish troops react. The royal gamble was winner.
If the Russians seized the Sahara, there would be a shortage of sand!
A month later, on December 17, when Moroccans come to take possession of Laayoune and the first skirmishes erupt with the Polisario (pending between the Algerian army directly in the conflict, Amgala in January 1976), c is a relaxed Henry Kissinger talks in Paris with his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Excerpts.
Kissinger: "Let the Sahara. You heard what Moynihan [US Ambassador to the UN] said? "If the Russians seized the Sahara, there would be a shortage of sand! "[Laughs]
Bouteflika: The Sahara issue is serious. This is a precedent. You can not abandon the people of the Sahara, nor that of Palestine or Namibia.
Kissinger: I do not know what it means to self-determination for Western Sahara. For the Palestinians, I can understand that. But there is a different problem.
Bouteflika: There are no more people in Qatar!
Kissinger: That's true. But they have a sheikh and an independent state.
Bouteflika: There is only one solution, it is a problem of principle. A referendum. The Algeria will accept the results, whatever they are. They can choose Morocco, Mauritania or be independent. But the referendum can not take place under the threat of bayonets.
Kissinger: I repeat: we have no particular interest in this case.
Bouteflika: But you could prevent this Green March!
Kissinger: That is not correct.
Bouteflika: We think the opposite. France has played a clear role in this, without any subtlety. It mobilized Bourguiba, Senghor, Bongo, without finesse. I do not know if you share his position, but our feeling is that you have adopted a antialgérienne position.
Kissinger: We did not antialgérienne position. Simply, prevent the holding of the Green March would have meant to destroy our relationship with Morocco. It would have been such an embargo.
Bouteflika: You could do it! You could cut your economic and military aid.
Kissinger: In other words, completely ruin our relationship with Morocco!
Bouteflika: No. The King of Morocco would not have so far thrown into the arms of the Soviets. [...] Now, Algeria is left with a neighbor who was moving boundaries, shifting boundaries. After ten years. These Broken Borders create a precedent. And a risk of conflict. "
That was forty years ago. Since then, nothing (or almost) has moved, diplomatically, in the Saharan file ...
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