What is it like to live in a region largely at peace but without government? We’ve heard many stories about war torn regions where there is little to no government control, but what about those places that actually don’t have a government at all?
Western Sahara has existed in this state since the 1960s when it was released from Spanish colonization. “Release” is the best word I can come up with, as control of the territory has been disputed since that time. The United Nations has listed it as a Non-Self-Governing Territory since that time. With little pressure to resolve the dispute from the outside world, the two opposing governments of Western Sahara (Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic – SADR) vie for recognition from other countries.
So what are Sahrawi bloggers saying?
New Sahrawi Satellite TV Station
I started over at Global Voices, and discovered they just began coverage of Western Sahara on July 5th. Their first highlight notes a brand-new TV station run by the SADR or SADR-sympathizers (I’m not entirely clear which). This seems to be the first one, so it’s interesting to see how the blogosphere reacts to this. This post, which pulls from (an translates) the Arabic Western Sahara blog, now has 29 comments – most of which are positive about the new station.
I found one of the comments (actually #29) particularly interesting:
Mohamed, mohamed and Agaila, you and your supporters were alone on the Internet since more than a decade to support separatism in Western Sahara. Now, that the Moroccans especially the sahraouis are aware of the impact of such a media, your sole aim is to discredit the arguments of unionist sahraouis on Internet by qualifying them as members of DST…
What I find so interesting is that this person is suggesting that one side in the sovereignty dispute dominated the online space for several years.
Natural Resources & Human Rights
Onward through the blogosphere, my Technorati search on Western Sahara brings me 612 posts. The relevant ones in English (that aren’t spam/advertising blogs) focus on resource disputes and human rights violations. There was an interesting post on politics and one of the plans put forth to resolve the dispute by Nick Brooks, a climate scientist who studies the Sahara desert. In fact his posts categorized under Western Sahara are all quite interesting and provide his personal experience grappling with the dispute. Most of these posts are written by people outside of Western Sahara, so with the exception of the last one, they don’t quite provide the internal perspective I was looking for.
The View from Western Sahara
Luckily, many of the comments on GV posted linked to their favorite Western Sahara blogs. Here’s what is out there:
- Unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish, but Saha blogs aggregates over 20 Spanish-language blogs on Western Sahara. From what I can understand (thanks to French and Latin), there is a range of topics – from human rights to a poetry festival to something about the prime minister of Spain.
- Another Spanish-language blog by Aziza Brahim, a Sahrawi singer, shows some of the culture of the territory. Again, I can’t understand much, but I believe she just performed in Madrid.
- One Hump or Two? is a fantastic name and a blog about the Western Sahara by a fellow Washingtonian. Will Sommer comments on the latest news affecting Western Sahara, including a recent attack on a Sahwari human rights activist. Sommer has gotten a many comments from Sahrawis praising him for his coverage and providing additional details about some of his postings. Sommer’s perspective is that Morocco oppresses the territory through its occupation.
- Le Sahara Occidental Occupe also reports on “occupied” Western Sahara. The perspective is definitely Algerian (which is pro-SADR), thus the French coverage. There is strong reporting on political developments, and particularly disturbing images of torture.
- Sahara Occidental – Western Sahara aggregates news and provides links in English, Spanish, and French. It includes links to news reports from Morocco, but takes the SADC side.
- Free Western Sahara is written by an ex-patriot who has never seen her homeland. It’s an aggregation of video and images of Western Sahara, and conveys a strong sense of nostalgia. Posts are in both English and Spanish.
Many of these blogs are from the SADR perspective. That certainly backs up the comment from GV. But I wonder whether this is an artifact of searching for “Western Sahara.” Are there pro-Moroccan blogs that would turn up under different search terms?