What is so strange about this relationship is that the end of Spanish rule over Western Sahara in 1975, some twenty years after Spain and France relinquished control over most of the rest of Morocco, remains in the collective Moroccan mind as a landmark in the history of independence and sovereignty. Spanish interference into the claims over Western Sahara – without getting into their merits here – are reminiscent of the Franco era and foreign imperialism.
Flash forward these weeks and upon return from Christmas, I find that my hipster neighbors (who had an anti Iraq war “No a la Guerra” banner a few years ago) were now hanging the flag of the Polisario, the rebel group in favor of an independent Western Sahara.
What does the Western Sahara have to do with my neighbors? Why do they care? They are against a war in one Arab country but in favor of rebels in another? Do they even know that the Polisario was supported in the 1970s by the Franco regime and is now largely subsidized by Algeria? With the unemployment rate in Spain at 20% and an inept government in power, you’d think they would be more worried about what’s happening outside their own window.