It seems to me that while the Polisario has scored modestly at the diplomacy level in the last few months, its biggest success has been to build a movement that is now self-sustaining, and more importantly (and that scares the shit out of me) self motivating.
It used to be a time where we thought that it’s a matter of a few years (maybe a generation), before the flame and lyrical rhetoric of the Polisario would fade out. The old school founding fathers of the movement (la vieille garde) represented by Louali, Ali Beiba, Mohamed Abdelaziz, would soon be out of the game, leaving behind a logistically unprepared and ideologically less dedicated younger leaders.
In order to accelerate that process, our late King started the process of organized defection among the ranks of the Polisario. Those who lived in Morocco in the late 80s early 90s would certainly remember the special interviews the RTM used to broadcast with deserters from the Polisario. The interviews would almost automatically feature Mustapha el-Alaoui sitting along with two or three Sahrawis with mustache (one of them invariably wearing the traditional Sahrawi blue outfit) and talking about the concept of “al-3awda ila el-Watani el-Um”.
While the process of defections seemed to be working, it was a mistake to assume that, by itself along with the aging and wearing of the leaders of the Polisario at that time, it would create a big enough of a hemorrhage to leave the Polisario stripped of militancy.
We do NOW realize that was a mistake.
The red, green, white and black colors of the Polisario, once rarely seen in Moroccan-controlled cities and territories (Think Layoune and Dakhla), are becoming the visual, and highly present symbol of the Polisario futile and unwinnable struggle, whether spray-painted in walls, sold as stickers, or distributed as flyers. Last week, they were some sort of Riots in Rabat!!!! (Not Bou Kraa, not Lagouira…but Rabat!!!!!!) by some knuckle-head Sahrawis in favor of Independence. I personally do not recall anything similar during the reign of Hassan II. The few activists -crazy enough- to even suggest an autonomy for the Sahara in the 70s were sent to Derb Moulay Cherif and Tazmamart for quite some time. The Polisario has celebrated its 30th anniversary about two weeks ago. The pompous celebration (available in youtube) was not the one of a small despaired, disorganized, hopeless, undisciplined guerilla movement. The web is full of multilingual websites/blogs/videos advocating the cause of the Polisario. A simple “Polisario” google search leads to an EXTREMELY (dangerously?) imbalanced list of websites, overwhelming majority of which backing the separatists thesis. At least on that level, they seem to be winning the battle. People -like dak lmsserfeka dial- Aminatou Haidar, are touring the world, visiting campuses and spreading the separatists ideas (By the way, if u have some time to waste, google her ass on you tube: She’s funny and nonsensical as hell).
In other words, the Polisario is not lacking militancy.
On the other hand, it seems to me (I might be wrong, the statement being from someone who lived outside of Morocco for 7 years) that the territorial integrity of Morocco, is not as mainstream and forced (think reinforced) on us as it used to be in the past. Wasn’t it a time where songs about the Massira were a LOT more present on TV then they are now? Don’t we all still remember the lyrics of that famous Massira song with the Brass Orchestra “Sawt el-Hassan yenadi be-Lssanek ya Sahra //// Ferhi Ya Ard Beladi, Ardek sebhet hurra //// Mouradna lazem yekber bel Massira al-Khadra //// Allah, Allah, Allah…etc” Weren’t these songs played during every national Holiday… and sometimes at the end of the TV broadcast before el-Qur’an when they were short of material at Zankat el-Brihi???? Just a thought!!!!
To go back to my previous idea of the Polisario getting some fresh air from its new militants, the scary thing is that this new and renewed militancy (referred to as new Intifada in countless pro-Polisario websites), might be putting the Polisario leadership under some sort of pressure to fight back and take it to the next level. In other words, as the new blood in the movement is gaining momentum, it would become more difficult for the leadership to compromise the fundamental goal of independence. They’ll come under pressure from their own constituency, their own people. The Polisario would become hostage of its own rhetoric. Cornered that way, lots…including the worst could happen.