Plosario's black autumn


Little or nothing has been said about the successive news stories surrounding the Polisario Front and its interests throughout this autumn, most of them negative. A full-blown 'horribilis' autumn which, with a few honourable exceptions, has passed by on the tiptoe of the national media landscape.

This bad streak, worthy of any coach's dismissal if we were to speak in footballing terms, probably began on 22 and 23 September in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, with the successful holding by the Sahrawi Movement for Peace of the 1st edition of its International Conference for Peace. The association of which I am vice-president, the Fórum Canario Saharaui, had the pleasure of collaborating in this event.

In those days, we heard and read all sorts of stories based on disinformation and inventiveness on the part of the Polisario's (political and media) friends in Spain. In their narrative, Las Palmas became the Berlin of the 1960s. A kind of cold war intimidated the island, with dozens of Moroccan spies flooding the streets of the city. At the centre of it all, a Spanish-Moroccan conspiracy - conspiratorially dubbed by Ignacio Cembrero as the 'Saharawi forum' - of which we seem to have been part, organised, controlled and financed the event, in order to threaten the Polisario cause (and those who live off it). 

How imaginative, not even John le Carré would have thought of such a thing. In the end you have to take it as a joke. Because, even if they try to turn a lie into truth by repeating it dozens of times, they will hardly succeed if they indulge in hyperbole with such passion. But this is their strategy, and they exercise it with the peace of mind of knowing that they are not going to pay any professional price, because it is not a major issue in Spanish public opinion and they are playing with it. In other words, lying is free. But that, and the phantom CNI pseudo-report on which these lies are based, may be the subject of a later article.

As I said, that meeting was a turning point that continued into October. During that month, we witnessed numerous events at both the national and international level that exposed the pack of fanatics led by Brahim Ghali and his leadership. First of all, we witnessed internal denunciations and reproaches made public by the Polisario's youth towards its leaders, demanding a "necessary generational renewal due to mistrust of the Polisario leadership because of its irresponsible and harmful conduct". And they did so by "sneaking it" into their official media no less, something unprecedented. "We are fed up, we are governed by dinosaurs", the young people living in Tindouf have even said. It is the gerontocracy that we have so often denounced. And they will continue to do so, expect no change.

But perhaps the most relevant aspect of this black October was to witness how it was the Polisario Front itself that acknowledged numerous cases of internal repression and multiple human rights violations during its half-century of existence. It was Ghali himself who announced (albeit somewhat euphemistically) 'reparations to the victims of past errors and abuses'. In other words, recognising for the first time in 50 years the commission of crimes against humanity in the Algerian Tindouf camps against its own dissident population. Now it remains to be seen how and when reparations will be made, or whether this is an announcement made for the sake of the gallery, as it seems to be.

And, of course, there are the legal cases against Ghali in Spain. With respect to the last one, that of Ghali's illegal entry into Spain, the perseverance and patience of Judge Rafael Lasala is to be praised, as well as that of the lawyer who is prosecuting the case, Antonio Urdiales, in redirecting the investigation to clarify the possible commission of crimes of prevarication and false documentation by Mr Brahim Ghali, or should we say Mohamed Benbatouche? With regard to the one that has been open in the Audiencia Nacional until a few days ago, in which Ghali was accused of crimes of illegal detention, torture and crimes against humanity committed in 2019 in the Tindouf camps, Judge Pedraz had also taken a statement in October from Abba Bouzeid, a witness to the torture that the Sahrawi activist Fadel Breica had allegedly suffered at the hands of the Polisario Front.

In the statement, the judge heard from Bouzeid for 90 minutes the details of the kidnapping, torture and arbitrary detention to which he was subjected along with Fadel Breica, in the detention centres of Al-Rashid and Al-Dhiba, usually used by the Polisario for these purposes in the Tindouf camps (Algeria), thus ratifying Breica's version. With regard to Ghali, he said that he saw him in prison the day he heard Breica's screams while he was being tortured. The Audiencia Nacional had previously rejected the attempts of Brahim Ghali's defence to close this case, in which there are also other accused, such as Bachir Mustafa Sayed, number two of the Polisario, or Mustafa Mohamed Ali Sid el Bachir, who held the post of Minister of the Interior. But finally, Judge Pedraz has done it again, emulating that lamentable telematic interrogation which he set himself in 2021, when Brahim Ghali was still in hospital on Spanish soil. By closing this case, a new red carpet is being rolled out for Ghali by certain Spanish judges, so that he can evade his criminal responsibilities.

On the other hand, also in October, let us recall the full-blown slap in the face that the Polisario was dealt by the content of the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2654. In addition to reaffirming the Council's position since 2007, and through it the international community, that the solution to this regional conflict must be political, realistic, pragmatic, sustainable and based on compromise, the resolution also denounced the Polisario's malpractices on basic issues that also affect elementary rights. These reproaches are directly related to the Security Council's request to humanitarian organisations to ensure that "the delivery of humanitarian aid is carried out in accordance with UN good practice", due to the regular and repeated diversion of such aid for personal gain with the connivance of the Polisario. A diversion confirmed in several reports by the High Commissioner for Refugees and the European Union's anti-fraud office (OLAF).

Likewise, the resolution also requested that all efforts be made to register the populations, or census of the Tindouf camps, through the High Commissioner for Refugees. This request has been insistently refused by Algeria and the Polisario for more than 25 years. A refusal to census the population which aims to hide the real population, whose current data are estimates and are "inflated" by the Polisario, because the diverted humanitarian aid referred to by the Security Council is granted on the basis of population data. The more population, the more aid; the more aid, the more diversion and thus the more corruption.

So, with the exception of the UN resolution, how widespread has most of the above been in Spain? Almost none. Especially by the usual Polisario spokesmen in our country who, day after day, not only denied it, defending its perpetrators, but for years mocked those of us who denounced these events. Where are these unofficial Polisario spokesmen in Spain now, who criticise these events so much when they go in the other direction? They are neither here nor to be expected. They only have eyes and ears for these things when they serve their interests, which usually coincide with those of Algeria, needless to say why. This is a two-way street, and what is denounced on one side should be denounced on the other side, and not be turned on its head.

A little respect for the codes of ethics of those who exercise this noble profession, where the first ethical commitment is respect for the truth, would not go amiss. Something difficult to achieve when you turn Las Palmas de Gran Canaria into the Berlin of the 1960s, under the premise of a novelistic CNI report about which much is said, but little is known, with the intention of continuing to spread falsehoods without any proof whatsoever. And the best proof of this is the 'Saharawi forum' invented by Cembrero to which I referred earlier. Undoubtedly a potential Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.