FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Big Oil and James Baker Target the Western Sahara

In the midst of America’s international campaign against terrorism, the Bush administration is permitting Big Oil to legitimize the illegal occupation of an invaded country–Western Sahara. Formerly known as Spanish Sahara and invaded by Morocco in 1975 (the same year Henry Kissinger acquiesced to Indonesia’s invasion and annexation of East Timor and India’s annexation of the Himalayan Kigdom of Sikkim)), Western Sahara’s occupation by Morocco has neither been recognized by the United Nations nor the Organization of African Unity. The latter actually recognizes the independence of Western Sahara’s exiled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is headquartered in remote and squalid desert refugee camps on the Algerian side of the Western Sahara-Algeria border.

In the New World Order of the Bush family, the Western Saharans have little future. That is because the lifeblood of what it means to be a Bush–oil–has been discovered off the coast of Western Sahara. Although Morocco is the illegal occupier of Western Sahara, that did not stop the Oklahoma City-based Kerr McGee Corporation (the company infamously portrayed in the movie “Silkwood”) from signing an off-shore exploration deal with Morocco on September 25, 2001, just days after the terrorist attacks on the United States. The timing for Kerr McGee could not have been better.

The group fighting for Western Sahara independence, POLISARIO, once waged a bitter guerrilla war against Morocco. In 1991, POLISARIO signed a cease fire with Morocco but Moroccan troops remained in the disputed territory.

Meanwhile, Morocco continued to pour thousands of native Moroccans into the territory. The 1991 cease fire agreement with Morocco was to have resulted in a referendum on the territory’s future. However, Morocco kept delaying the vote until it could salt the territory with enough of its own emigres until they constituted a majority, thus ensuring a final vote would result in voter approval for merger with Morocco.

In 1997, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who, ironically, was awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, named former Secretary of State James Baker as his personal envoy to settle the Western Sahara problem. Baker, who would later serve as George W. Bush’s fix-it man in Florida’s disputed presidential election, began considering rather novel ideas to settle the Western Sahara problem.

Unfortunately, for the Sahrawis, Baker’s ideas were all stamped with the imprimatur of Morocco.

Baker, who is as connected to the Houston oil big wigs as J.R. Ewing was to the oil czars in the TV show “Dallas,” has his own close ties to Kerr McGee.

His James Baker Institute at Rice University funded a study Called “Strategic Energy Policy: Challenges for the 21st Century.” The author of that report is Matt Simmons, President of Simmons and Company Investment Bankers and member of the Board of Directors of Kerr McGee.

It also helps the cause of Kerr McGee that Baker’s former spokesperson at the Departments of State and Treasury and close personal friend, Margaret Tutwiler, serves as the U.S. ambassador to Morocco. One former associate of Tutwiler confided that it was no coincidence that landed Tutwiler in Morocco, “She was obviously placed there by Baker and his oil buddies to help cut oil deals.” Tutwiler is not only in a commanding position to influence U.S. policy on Western Sahara but she can count upon one of her best friends, former White House Communications Director and close Bush confidant Karen Hughes, to ensure that Morocco’s case receives the personal attention of President Bush.

The plan that Baker drew up for Western Sahara (while he was ensconced with his friends at his Jackson Hole, Wyoming ranch) will undoubtedly result in the territory’s eventual merger with Morocco. Approved by the UN Security Council, with the strong support of France, whose TotalFinaElf conglomerate also just signed an offshore oil exploration, the plan calls for a five-year delay for a final referendum. In the meantime, Western Sahara will have a weak territorial assembly that will be packed with loyalists of Morocco’s

King Mohammed, a close U.S. ally. When the referendum is finally held, sometime around 2006 or 2007, all the Moroccan squatters and occupying troops will be allowed to vote.

On January 7, 2003, the UN announced that Baker would be visiting Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and Western Sahara to revive his peace plan. But it now seems that with impending war with Iraq and the paralyzing Venezuelan oil strike, Baker is under pressure from his friends in the Bush administration to bring about the commencement of oil drilling off of Western Sahara. Thus the sudden new interest by Baker in a Western Sahara “peace” deal.

U.S. oil companies are chomping at the bit. In its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Kerr McGee continues to list Western Sahara’s Boujdour block (where it has been given permission to drill by Morocco) as being within Moroccan territory, a claim neither supported by the United Nations nor officially recognized by the United States.

Although Baker was to have been an honest broker, even he had to admit to

the U.N. Security Council in 2001 that the plan had been heavily influenced by Morocco. Since Bush has enlisted the support of Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Boutefllika in the worldwide war against terrorism, it is clear that he was pressured to limit Algeria’s historic support for POLISARIO and the Sahrawis. Bouteflika even endorsed Baker’s plan. French President Jacques Chirac has referred to Western Sahara as Morocco’s “southern provinces,” a clear indication of where the West sees the future of the territory.

For its part, the Western Saharans are claiming the deals between Morocco and TotalFinaElf and Kerr McGee are in violation of international law and previous UN resolutions. The Sahrawi President, Mohammed Abdelaziz, condemned the oil deals as an illegal “provocation.” The Sahrawi cause is supported by a number of NGOs, former French First Lady Danielle Mitterand, and East Timor’s leadership, which knows all too well about being held hostage by oil interests and brutal occupying dictatorships allied with the West. But the oil companies and the Baker-Bush team still holds the trump card. If the Sahrawis, out of desperation, break the cease fire and go to war with Morocco, the anti-terrorism measures undertaken by the United States may seal their fate.

All the State Department has to do is simply declare POLISARIO and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic terrorist organizations. Their international assets would be frozen, their leaders would be arrested and could be tried by secret U.S. military tribunals and executed, and Big Oil and Morocco would rule the day in Western Sahara. Even groups that support their cause could be targeted and their assets seized. Furthermore, the American public, conditioned to be suspicious of all things Arab, would have little sympathy for nomadic Arabs fighting against a U.S. “ally.” It is a scenario that could be replayed in every part of the world where local secessionist groups are pitted against brutal regimes and greedy multinational corporations–the Aceh region of northern Sumatra, West Papua, and Nigeria’s Delta Region, to name but a few.

WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth.

Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail