The Sahrawi Nakba in an Age of Insurrection

Mainstream pop culture historians always deify the 1960’s as some kind of Woodstock utopian fantasy gone to seed. But any true countercultural history buff knows that the Seventies were where it was really at. After Charlie Manson scared off the flower children, things got truly radical. The left got the message and stopped playing nice. The Students for a Democratic Society became the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party gave way to the Black Liberation Army. A pervasive revolutionary culture permeated the zeitgeist and, for a few heady moments, an entire generation embraced a common goal of overthrowing “The Man.”

The wild heart of this movement wasn’t in Washington or Moscow or even San Francisco. The tribal heartbeat came straight from the belly of the imperial beast in the Third World. White kids burned dollar bills beneath Vietcong flags as Victor Charlie offered to send choppers to Attica. Japanese punks jacked jetliners for Palestine and received a heroes welcome in the streets of Bethlehem when the PFLP added their release from Israeli custody to their list of demands. Algiers became the new San Francisco as Eldridge Cleaver turned skyjacking into a cottage industry and weird sugar daddies like Fidel Castro and Muamar Gaddafi spread the love to the darkest corners of the earth.

One of these dark corners was Western Sahara, the last African colony. And this tiny piece of desert’s renegade Polisario Front comes from this era of revolutionary opportunity. Unlike many of their brethren, the Polisario Front neither burned out nor faded away. They simply kept up the good fight and built a nation out of sand and grit. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, founded in 1976, has kept up the good fight for the Sahrawi people and even earned the recognition of 84 UN member states, all while defending their very right of existence from an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing from their northern neighbors in the Kingdom of Morocco. All this hard work, blood, sweat and tears has recently been thrown into question however by a far less legitimate regime in Washington.

Under Donald Trump’s jihad for Israeli recognition in the Muslim world, the United Sates has openly violated the Geneva Convention by recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Sahrawi in return for the Kingdom’s official recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Palestine. In a very twisted sense this seems like a fair trade. A Nakba for a Nakba. In many ways Morocco’s vicious campaign in Western Sahara mirrors Israel’s own genocidal agenda in Gaza and the West Bank. As the stagnant fascist fiefdom of Francoist Spain lost control of their last colony, Morocco and their allies in Mauritania embraced the opportunity by launching what became known as the Green March in the mid Seventies.

Much like Israel’s devastating Nakba nearly thirty years earlier, the March was a military facilitated invasion of civilian settlers which pushed hundreds of thousands of Sahrawi people from their homes and into exile in neighboring nations. To this day nearly half of the republic’s native population lives in desert refugee camps in Algeria while Morocco illegally occupies three quarters of their land behind a 1,700 mile wall of sand. Over two thirds of the nations current population is now made up of illegal settlers and America has become the first sovereign nation to recognize this crime as “sovereignty.”

There was a time when such brazen imperial thuggery would be unthinkable without repercussions. Not because Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter wouldn’t do such a treacherous thing, just ask East Timor. It would be unthinkable for Morocco to justify their own private Nakba by recognizing Israel’s because the chaos it would invite from the revolutionary Arab community would obliterate such cowards. King Mohammad would never see his private jets again as the PLO would have embraced the Polisario Front with waves of outlaw solidarity. But it’s not the Seventies anymore and the Palestine Liberation Organization has already sold their legitimacy down the Dead Sea for their own twisted “peace” deal. Bill Clinton offered Arafat a stainless steel suitcase full of dirty money to fuck off and the so-called Palestinian Authority has been a glorified quisling of Israeli/American aid ever since. And just like that, the revolutionary Arab community was no more.

There is no making peace with nations like America and Israel because nations like Israel and America remain about as legitimate as Morocco’s claims over Western Sahara. The very existence of these countries is predicated on genocide. The only way to make peace with such barbarism is to become an accomplice to it. Fatah and the PA now wage a constant war against their own people just as the United States does against the modern colonies of our inner cities and Indian reservations. This was the muscular genius of the Seventies counterculture.

It wasn’t defined by some white guilt subservience to the Third World. It was defined by the recognition that all poor communities were part of the same subjugated Third World consciousness. There was little difference between the armed occupation of Indochina and the armed occupation of Watts or Wounded Knee. We were all in this together. Even middle class white kids recognized that they became Third World citizens the moment they refused to conform to their parent’s puritanical culture. Kent State was its own tiny freak Nakba and groups like the Weathermen and the White Panther Party chose to openly join forces with the Third World against the First.

50 years after the beginning of the Seventies and this is precisely what we need right now. This is what Sahrawi and Palestine need right now. This is what Artsakh and Somalia and Ferguson and Appalachia need right now. We need a new decade of revolutionary consciousness and we need to embrace it before opportunists like Donald Trump can hijack our collective outrage for profit. Movements like Black Lives Matter have provided us with the necessary wokeness but their own leadership has already sold out to Fortune 500 think tanks and mainstream politics.

Your never hear about Third World solidarity or revolution at these rallies. It’s all get-out-to-vote assimilationist bullshit. That’s work-with-the-enemy-talk and Gaza is what it leads to. Black, Brown, Queer, and Blue Collar folks should be the ones in the streets right now, beneath Sahrawi flags. We should be bombarding the Moroccan embassy like an inner city police station. The Stonewall Nation should declare allegiance to a Palestinian single state solution. Their should be no wall of sand dividing us from our brothers and sisters in the desert. We outnumber the conquistadors, we always have, and they know it. All we need to do to win is stop selling out to Nakbas in peace drag and storm the capitol for the right goddamn reasons. No justice? No peace.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.