The Gdeim Izzeik camp and its significance

The recent crackdown by Moroccan security forces on the Gdeim Izzeik protest camp in the Western Sahara and its political ramifications, from The Moor Next Door:

‘This is without a doubt a very significant moment for Sahrawi nationalism. Exactly how things will play out remains to be seen, but the violent nature of the crackdown and the protests, and the scale of public protest, is unprecedented. I believe this will become as significant an internal turning point for Sahrawi nationalism as the May 2005 Sahrawi “intifada” in el-Aaiun. While that event passed unnoticed in the larger world, it was the starting point of the recurrent Sahrawi protests and human rights lobbying that has since dominated the nationalist side of the argument, and it has seriously affected the parameters of the conflict…

…In addition, the riots are a damning declaration of non-confidence in the official structures of governance in the territory, in particular the CORCAS, Morocco’s only officially sanctioned political entity for Sahrawis. CORCAS was already widely scorned as a powerless puppet body of corrupt local businessmen and pawns for palace and army interests, but it contained several influential local powerbrokers of Sahrawi or related provenance. The political significance of this should not be understated, since the CORCAS was long portrayed by the palace as the cornerstone of the whole autonomy project. The riots will certainly affect the plans to reform CORCAS (which have been long in the offing)…

…In this mix POLISARIO and its exile republic, the RASD, have remained the guiding framework, but events such as those at Gdeim Izzeik may in the long term undermine its near-monopoly on channeling social discontent among Sahrawis. Because, what did POLISARIO actually do during these protests? It propagated their cause, sure, and gave verbal support – but at the end of the day, it couldn’t move from its exile in Algeria, and local leaders were the people who mattered.’

The whole thing is worth reading.

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