January 10, 2002


The Honorable James Baker

Baker and Botts

1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C.   20004-2400


Dear Mr. Baker:

As you begin to once again work on a resolution to the Western Sahara conflict, we encourage you to uphold self-determination for the Sahrawi people through the long-promised referendum.  If you feel that the referendum is no longer viable and plan to continue to come up with other options, then consider this one: ask Morocco to withdraw from its illegal occupation.  This would be in the best interest of the Moroccan people as well as the Sahrawis, especially when you consider that Morocco is spending well over a $1 million a day on its military to maintain its occupation of Western Sahara, which it should be spending to help its own people.  The waste of human potential that has occurred from this conflict is incalculable.

As you know, the UN published a list of voters in January, 2000, under a process that had been approved by both parties.  The referendum could have been held by now (which has been acknowledged by Ambassador William Swing) if the UN had gone ahead and processed the 100,000 Moroccan appeals that were submitted to overwhelm MINURSO and stop the referendum from proceeding.  The UN needs to follow through on the agreements already signed by both parties and hold the referendum.

As we are sure you are aware, rumors are swirling about the international community and have been published in the press that indicate you have been compromised by oil interests.  We do not believe that you would forsake the fundamental principles for which our country stands for some economic benefit.  Even if one felt that it was in the United States' economic interest to support Morocco no matter what principles were compromised, one would be wrong.  History proves that these kinds of compromises always lead to horrible results.

We have won all the major wars of this century, partially because people believed we truly cared about them and their human rights.  Whether one was suffering under Communism, Nazism or Fascism, Americans were always seen as fighting for their rights.  Today, it is easy to turn the Arab world against us because it appears we don't really care about the people, only their oil.  The conflict over the Western Sahara is a classic case: it is clear who is right in this fight, but will we compromise over oil?  Should not the United States of America be upholding the  right to self-determination?  Would not a democratic, Muslim republic be a far better economic partner than a totalitarian Kingship that is fraught with instability? 

Let Mohamed VI freely make his case to the Sahrawi people of why they would be better off under his rule than their own, but please, Mr. Baker, let the Sahrawi people have the right to vote as soon as possible.  Please uphold the right to self-determination through a free, fair, and transparent referundum.


US Western Sahara Foundation

Suzanne Scholte

Carlos Wilson


cc: Honorable Colin Powell

    Honorable John Bolton

    Honorable Paula Dobriansky

    Honorable Condoleeza Rice

    Honorable Kofi Annan

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