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March 1, 2011: Libya

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Looting of W. Sahara by Firms from US, UK Slammed, Morocco Ready for SC Seat?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 6 -- While speeches in the UN's Decolonization committee are often predictable, with Venezuela calling out the United States on Puerto Rico and joining other Latin and Caribbean nations on the Malvinas and not Falklands Islands, rarely are the "follow the money" aspects of occupation clearly traced.

  But amid the speeches on Western Sahara on Thursday afternoon, the testimony of Ulysses S. Smith of the New York City Bar stood out.

  Smith named named, saying that "the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM and US-based Kosmos Energy... purchased a 30% interest in the Boujdour sub-basis within Western Sahara" and also naming "Irish energy firm San Leon Energy PLC... UK-based Longreach Oil & Gas Gvenues" and "Australia-based DVM International" regarding Tarfaya in Western Sahara.

  In the midst of this, the chair cut in to urge Smith to read more slowly to allow interpretation. One wonders where all this testimony goes.

  Moroccan Permanent Representative Mohammed Loulichki buzzed around the conference room and then was gone.

  Seeking a response to the NYC Bar Association report, Inner City Press approached a senior member of Morocco's Mission to the UN, who we will leave nameless. He was dismissive, saying "they're just a petitioner, they can say what they want."  Asked again for a comment for this story, none was provided.

 Polisario's representative noted that "Morocco has requested the support of Member States to win a seat on the Security Council," saying "it is worthy to remember that the Polisario Front and Morocco are the two sides of a conflict that is on the Council's agenda."

Alternative sales of Western Sahara oil & gas, law not shown

  Morocco claims it has more than enough votes to win the seat, despite the African Union endorsing Mauritania, on October 21. Speaker after speaker Thursday afternoon supported the right to self-determination of Western Sahara.

 But will they nevertheless vote Morocco onto the Council?

   A well placed diplomat interviewed by Inner City Press on Thursday afternoon said that Morocco's "arrogance" in the face of criticism by the African Union, Caricom, UNASUR and others of its actions in Western Sahara is reminiscent, to him, of Israel.
  Except, he noted, the Israel Mission to the UN now with Ron Prosor comes and addresses criticism directly, on the record, at the stakeout. "Morocco doesn't," the diplomat said, "they count on France to carry their water in the Security Council."

  The diplomat ended with a question: "Israel couldn't get elected to the Security Council, but Morocco probably will, whatever the countries are saying in the Fourth Committee."

  One Press note, before a footnote: if Morocco does get on the Security Council, one hopes their communication strategy becomes more professional than it has been on the margins of the Decolonization Committee and semi-annual MINURSO debates. And that... has nothing to do with Polisario.

Footnote: one of the strongest statements against Morocco as "occupying party" was by Nigerian Minister Augustine Ugochukwu Nwosa, who is often in the Security Council, especially this month when Nigeria's Joy Ogwu is President. Nigeria is strong on Western Sahara, but has been quoted it may abstain on Palestine's application for UN membership. What gives?

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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