Front Polisario Khat al-Shahid


Front Polisario Khat al-Shahid

Front Polisario Khat al-Shahid (Khat al-Shahid, often w. Spanish transliteration as Jat Achahid, is Arabic for "Line of the Martyr") is a minor faction within the Front Polisario. It is based in the Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria, but also has supporters and members in the Sahrawi diaspora in Mauritania, Spain and various European countries, as well as in the Western Sahara.

Creation and relation to Polisario

The organization announced its existence in 2004, stating that it had to move outside the Polisario in order to help correct the front's faulty practices. It accused the Polisario leadership of being undemocratic, not caring enough for families of fallen soldiers and the army, and of bowing to Moroccan pressure. The Polisario refused to respond or recognize the organization, insisting that differences be solved within the established system. However, there have been no reports of police intervention against members. Its activities at this stage do not seem to go beyond publishing pamphlets against the present Polisario leadership, and while it may affect internal Sahrawi politics, it is of minimal or no significance to the Western Sahara conflict.

Its relation to Polisario remains slightly ambiguous. Khat al-Shahid considers itself part of Polisario, and labels itself a reformist movement, but works outside its established system to change it. Its Tindouf-based members remain active in the Polisario administration and armed forces.

Politics and ideology

The Khat al-Shahid uses the slogan "No hero but the people, no leader but the martyr", referring to El-Ouali Mustapha Sayed, the first Secretary-General of Polisario, who was killed in battle in Mauritania 1976. It says it wants to restore El-Oualis legacy ("the line of the Martyr").

Like the Polisario, the movement has no explicit ideology, apart from seeking Western Sahara's independence: a typical statement is its communiqué of May 20, 2005 (the 32nd anniversary of Polisario's first strikes against Spanish colonization), where the group demanded the "end to an occupation, and the raising of the flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic over the totality of its national territory". [http://www.fpeluali.org/communiques.khat.html#20mai05fr] However, marking a difference with the Polisario, in its statements, the group emphasizes militancy and revolutionary action. It accuses the present Polisario leadership of weakness (decrying its "incapacity to bring the struggle against the invader to a close"), of caving in to Moroccan and UN pressures, and of being undemocratic and corrupt.

The Muhammad Abdelaziz leadership is accused of:

* "propagating corruption, clientelism, tribalism, and for bargaining with the sufferings of the Sahrawi people and the martyrs' blood" [http://www.fpeluali.org/communiquefr270207.html]
* having no strategies to face the international developements.
* being unable to conduct internal reforms.
* having no contact with the population in the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara, and with mediatically expoliting their "intifada".
* for refusing to hold the national congress demanded by Khat al-Shahid, where the Polisario leadership would be held to accountability for its policy, seeing this as a sign of the undemocratic leadership of the Polisario Front. [http://www.fpeluali.org/communiquefr270207.html]

Furthermore, Khat Al-Shahid movement has called on the Polisario front to spare the budget allocated for celebrations of the 31st anniversary of the Sahrawi republic, and to use it for the benefit of the refugee population. It considers the calls by Abdelaziz to the international community for help as begging. It demanded that persons involved in misuse, traffic, and spoiling of humanitarian aid be judged. [http://www.fpeluali.org/communique.fr300107.html]

Khat al-Shahid has repeatedly decried the failure of the United Nations-backed peace process. It accuses the Polisario leadership of "defeatist reasoning" and of caving in to pressures (especially in accepting the Baker Plan), claiming that it benefits from the political stagnation caused by the cease fire. It stresses the gains made during the war years (1975-91) and claims the Abdelaziz government has let the Sahrawi army decay during the cease fire, and ignored the plight of veterans and war widows. It also severely criticizes the UN's Minurso mission for being biased in favor of MoroccoFact|date=March 2007. For these reasons, Khat al-Shahid has argued that the guerrilla war against Morocco should resumeFact|date=March 2007. There seems to exist significant support for this position in the refugee camps, but it is not known if the Khat al-Shahid has successfully managed to exploit that. Overall, support for the organization seems to remain very smallFact|date=March 2007.

International connections

Supporters of the present Polisario leadership has accused Khat al-Shahid of working for, or being exploited by, the Moroccan government, but no proof of this has been presented. The movement's relations to Algeria, which backs the Polisario, are unknown. In a statement in June 2004, the movement hailed the position of the USA, "not recognizing the legitimacy of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara", most likely in a reference to the Moroccan-American Free Trade Agreement, which excluded Moroccan-held Western Sahara from the areas judged to be under Moroccan sovereignty. [http://www.fpeluali.org/communiques.khat.html#comm280804]

Mahjoub Salek affair

Recently, in an interview with the Moroccan weekly TelQuel [http://www.telquel-online.com/243/maroc3_243.shtml] , Khat al-Shahid leader, Mahjoub Salek, declared that negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict, and that all it needs was a signal from King Mohamed VI. He further called on the Moroccan king Mohamed VI to open the doors of his palace to Sahrawis and listen to them, to end the conflict.

The leadership of Khat al-Shahid first reacted issuing a communiqué explaining that Salek was not a spokesman of the movement, and that the ideas brought forth in the Tel Quel interview did not represent Khat al-Shahid. [http://www.fpeluali.org/telquel181006ar.html#fr] It later proceeded to expelling Salek, saying that he had broken the rules of the organization. It decried what it called the media campaigns of the "monarchic colonial regime", and reaffirmed that, even if it seeks reforms of its practices, Khat al-Shahid still considers Front Polisario to be the sole legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people. [http://www.fpeluali.org/communique221106fr.html]

ee also

*Polisario Front
*Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
*Politics of Western Sahara
*Baker Plan

External links

* [http://www.fpeluali.org/ Khat al-Shahid homepage] Arabic, French, and Spanish


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