Laura Fernandez Palomo |
Saharawi camps in Tindouf (Algeria) (EFE).- The leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Gali, considers in a questionnaire interview with EFE that the president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, “left him no other option than to freeze relations”, after his turn on Western Sahara, and that what he expected from Spain is “what Portugal did with its former colony Timor Leste, via referendum, which culminated in independence.”
Gali today presides over a large military parade in the Saharawi refugee camps, in Algeria, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first war action against Spanish colonization (1884-1976), in which he himself participated, because he assures there were “more than enough for the revolution against injustice”.
First Secretary General of the Polisario (1973), he was re-elected for a third term in January in this second stage of leadership, at a time when the independence movement has also resumed the armed struggle to end the ceasefire with Morocco in 2020, which it plans to intensify.
QUESTION: Relations with Spain have suffered ups and downs in this half century until the current suspension. What did Madrid’s turn on the future of Western Sahara mean for the Polisario?
ANSWER: Spain is not just anyone regarding the conflict. We expected a change, but in another sense. Establish a serious and direct effort like the one Portugal made at the time regarding its former colony Timor Leste, decisive in a democratic solution, via referendum, which culminated in independence. With this new betrayal of the Saharawi people of clearly aligning itself with the Moroccan expansionist, aggressor and occupier regime, the Sánchez government left the Polisario no other option than to freeze relations.
position of Spain
Q: What do you think motivated Spain to support the Moroccan thesis?
A: It is a question that was addressed many times to Pedro Sánchez himself and his Foreign Minister, without the slightest clarification, neither to the Sahrawis nor to public opinion, nor to the PSOE militants, nor to his own government partners. Of course, this behavior raises doubts and suspicions.
It is incomprehensible and totally suspicious, as was the case of Felipe González who went from being the number one ally in Spain of the Saharawi cause, to being the first defender and lawyer of the King of Morocco, both in Spain and in Latin America and the world.
It is suspicious because this behavior involves a certain clan or people from the PSOE such as (José Luis Rodríguez) Zapatero, (Miguel Ángel) Moratinos, (Elena) Valenciano or (López) Aguilar. It is also suspicious because the possibility of the existence behind it of certain personal interests or blackmail due to fraud or espionage continues to be ignored by the media.
Q: How is the Polisario Front of 50 years ago similar to the current one and how is it different?
A: As a national liberation movement there has not been the slightest change. The Polisario and the Saharawi people are the same reality. On the other hand, it is clear that there is a huge difference between a revolutionary movement in the founding phase, made up of a few young militants, and today’s; a well-structured political organization, internally as well as in the world, internationally respected and recognized as the legitimate and sole representative of the Saharawi people.
Q: As a person, how do you remember your experiences during the Spanish colonization that led you to lead the armed wing?
A: I am one of all the Sahrawis who lived through the colonial practices to which our people were subjected; a combination of ignorance, poverty, segregation and, at the same time, the exploitation of the Saharawi human being and the massive looting of the natural resources of their land.
For me, as for the other Sahrawis, these were sufficient reasons for the revolution against injustice and the demand for our legitimate rights. This repression and this brutality (kidnapping and the disappearance of Mohamed sid Brahim Basiri in 1970 as a trigger) were a painful blow for all the Saharawis and, practically, they left no other way than to choose the armed struggle.
Q: At the last congress in January, you decided to intensify this fight, can you explain why and to what extent you think it can help achieve your goals?
A: To reiterate that going to the armed struggle was never the most preferred option of the Polisario or by the Saharawi people, but rather that it was imposed, in the 1970s, and forced to resume it on November 13, 2020, in the face of injustice, the repression and intransigence of the aggressors.
The Saharawi people have made it clearer, with all patience and cooperation, and for three decades, that they are a peaceful people and that their will is to reach a political and democratic solution, such as a referendum.
Within the framework of international legality, as a matter of unfinished decolonization that can only be resolved by respecting the inalienable right of self-determination and independence. The armed struggle is recognized by the United Nations as a legitimate right for the oppressed and colonized peoples.
Q: How has the situation in the berm (separation wall in Western Sahara) with Morocco changed after this decision?
A: You cannot compare a situation of truce with that of an armed confrontation. Simply, we are in a situation of war, with its direct consequences, such as fatalities and material damage, and indirect consequences, especially in the state of emergency, both at the level of the troops and at the level of the (Moroccan) State. Although Morocco denies it, the effects of the war are noticeable in different aspects, such as the growing military spending in a country well known for its critical economic situation.
Q: As president of the proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), how do you approach management from exile?
A: It is the only case in which, from the outset, the decision was made to simultaneously assume the responsibilities of the liberation war and the construction of a Saharawi state. For many, that idea is an almost impossible challenge that the Sahrawis turned into reality. We have a state that was recognized by more than 84 countries of the world, a founding member of the Organization of the African Union.
Q: Do you feel that you have lost support in the international arena since US President Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara?
A: It was to be expected that a tweet from Donald Trump would have some media impact. But from there to losing support, in reality, is something that, more than anyone else, is attributed to the media close to the Moroccan Majzen. We do not notice changes in support for our cause in the world.
The UN makes it clear that tweets or even decisions of this type do not change the status of Western Sahara as a non-autonomous territory, in the decolonization phase. The current US administration itself maintains that position and reiterates its support for UN efforts.
Q: What should happen for a rapprochement with Spain?
A: All that is required of the Spanish governments is to comply with international law and with their legal, moral and political obligations towards the Saharawi people and with international law and international humanitarian law.