Tags : Western Sahara, Morocco, Spain, Juan Carlos, Transition, Mauritania, Frente Polisario, Algeria,
National Intelligence Bulletin November 15, 1975
Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania agreed yesterday to set up a joint provisional administration to govern Spanish Sahara withdraws completely early next year.
The Spanish information minister predicted yesterday that Spain would be out of the Sahara by the end of February. He said that details of the new agreeement would not be made public by Spain until the Spanish parliament completed the process – scheduled to start newx Tuesday- of formally decolonizing the territory.
Preliminary comments from Spanish officials indicate they are unhappy with the pact. One spanish officials who has been involved in the negotiations told the US embassy in Madrid that it was a « bad agreement », but was made necessary by the UN’s demonstrated inability to prevent the situation from degenerating into war.
With the agreement, Madrid has abandonned ist insistence on a referendum for the area. The Spanish official said that « consultations3 will be held with local tribal leaders on the future of Spanish Sahara. Madrid is uneasy about the arrangement because it expects Algeria to be displeased. Algeria is Spain’s main supplier of natural gas, but Madrid apparently preferred to risk its energy supplies ratcher than become engaged in hostilities in the Sahara.
The UN may not have a role now that it has been presented with an accomplished fact. At best, there may be an attempt to obtain UN approval.
The agreeement is victory for Morocco’s King Hassan, who has long sought to annex at least part of Spanish Sahara. Hassan will be able to present the new joint authority as fulfilling a promise he made in August to liberate Spanish Sahara by the end of the year.
As co-administrators; Rabat and Nouakchott will be able to hand-pick Sahara tribal leaders -including the head of the territory’s general assembly, who defected to Morocco- for any « consultations ». The outcome of such « consultations » would almost certainly be a decision to partition the territory; giving to Morocco the northern region; with its rich phosphate deposits; and to Mauritania the southern portion; with its iron ore.
Algeria looks like the big loser. The Algerian Foreign Ministry yesterday issued a statement indicating that Algiers would not approve any agreement to which it had not been a party. The statement strongly reiteratd Algeria’s unequivocal support for the principle of self-determination, suggesting it attends to push for a referendum for Spanish Sahara. An official Algerain news agency warned Madrid that any action to divide the territory would be a grave mistake. The agency said such an action would jeopardize Spain’s interests; apparently a reference to Algeria’a natural gas. Although the agency did suggest that the Saharan people would fight to liberate their homeland, it did imply that Algeria would participate directly in the struggle.
Algeria will; as a firts step, try to enlist support in the UN to reverse the agreement. Algiers will note that the proposed « consultations » are not in accord with an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which upheld the Saharan’s right to self-determination. Althoug a UN report last month stopped short of backing a referendum explicitly, earlier assembly resolutions endorsed self-determination.
The Algerians will also move to create as many problems for Morocco as possible. The will, for example, continue to provide arms, training, and possibly some « volunteers » to the Polisario Front, a pro-independence Saharan group. With sanctuary in Algeria and suffient arms, a relatively small number of Front guerrillas could carry out sabotage and terrorist attachs directed against the new joint administration. Algiers could also renew its support of dissidents inside Morocco.
Algeria would probably hope that a Polisario insurgeny againt Moroccan occupation would tie down a large number of troops for some time to come. The Front already claims it controls part of the territory. Front leaders want a complete independence for Spanish Sahara and have vowed to fight to achieve that aim. Press reports from Algeria say that as many as 2555 armes Polisario members aren in the territory.
Prince Juan Carlos is extracting maximum advantage out of his status as « temporary » head of state.
Capitalizing on the emergeny nature ot the Sahara problem, he has acted decisively and is given much of credit for reversing the Moroccan march. His leadership imagr has been strengthened by his chairing of two National Defense Council meetings -something Franco rarely did. Juan Carlos’ handling of the Sahara issue to date has also improved his rapport with top military leaders whose support he will need in the months to come.
Althoug Juan Carlos has not been as assertive on domestic issues, Franco’s continued presence has given the prince an excuse not to be. Eben so, the media have applauded Juan Carlos for the recent indications that the government is taking stemps to resolve the sensitive issue of regionalism.K On November 11 the cabinet adopted a decree -initiated several months ago- setting up a commission to prepare a special administrative statute for two of the Basque provinces (…) The press has also reported that a decree approved last May authorizing the teaching of regional languages in schools and their use in local government activities will also be issued soon.
In general, however, there is a paralysis in domestci policy-making will probably continue as long as Franco lives. During the interregnum, the activities of the ultra-right -if left unchecked- will ci-omplicate Juan Carlo’s efforts to open up Spanish society after he is sworn in as king. Blas Pinar, leader of the ultra-right New Force, has been holding rallies around the country warning of the dangers posed by political parties. Pointing out that the monarchy will derive its legitimacy solely from Franco, he has called Juan Carlos to purge the government of all who have not supported Francoism.
Right-wing extremists, such as the Guerrilas of Christ the King; who have been linked to the New Force, have recently beaten up student demonstrators and opposition lawyers, and sent threatening letteres to oppositionists and even to some of the more open-minded establishment figures.
Security forces, meanwhile, have taken full advantage of th’ wide powers granted by last summer’s anti-terrorist decrees to step un arrests and repress all forms of dissent: Il the past few days; according to press estimates; more than 100 people have been arrested, including the editor of the presigious independe newspaper Ya who was indicted for publishing an article on the succession. Six priests have been fined because of their sermons, and the government has banned several conferences by important professors, including former minister Ruiz Gimenez.
Juan Carlos will not be able to postpone domestic policy decisions much longer even if Franco lives. A decision is due on a successor for Rodriguez de Valcarcel; the conservative president of parliament whose six-year term expires later this month. The position is important because the incumbent automatically becomes president of the Council of the Realm, which is instrumental in the choice of new prime ministers, and the three-man Council of the Regency, which will govern from the time of Franco’s death until Juan Carlos is sworn in.
Should Juan Carlos decide to retain Rodrgiuez de Valcarcel, the decision will be interpreted by the Spanish left as Francoism without Franco. If someone else is chosen, his political credential will be carefully examined for clues as to the direction in which Juan Carlos plans to take Spain.
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