As a Bedouin tribe member, I witnessed the beginning of Morocco’s entry to the Sahara in the mid-seventies and I even studied, until the 5th grade, in schools where all teachers were Moroccans from the north.
Then, I was kidnapped by the Polisario and taken to Sahrawi camps. There, I lived through the momentum of the conflict and I was taught by my new school that all evil came from where I was.
Still, based on my modest comparison, I noticed that the education I received prior to my abduction was much better than the one I received afterwards. In my little mind, I was confused about the word “enemy”.
Regardless of the adjective associated with it, “Maghreb” is one of the most sensitive words for Sahrawis, given the impact of 37-year-long and ongoing Western Sahara conflict.
The Sahara issue is said to be the cause behind the delay in Maghreb unity and integration; although, the first unified army after the Islamic armies at the time of conquests emerged from a conflicted area.
As a matter of fact, the liberation army that consisted of Moroccans, Sahrawis, and Mauritanians during the late fifties did not stem from regional regimes because they did not exist. Thanks to the absence of these regimes, citizens of the Arab Maghreb could unite, as proved by the “Akafyoune” process.
If I were an economist, I would use numbers to say: “The loss caused by division cannot be compared to its gains.”
If I went back in time, I would say: “Borders are new.”
If asked my opinion, I would say: “The opinions of Maghreb citizens are not taken into account in local affairs, let alone in regional matters.”
As for me, I will keep struggling until people can go from Tobruk to Tangier and from Tangier to Lagouira, Sélibaby, Tamanrasset, Tunisia and Sabha without claiming that the Sahara issue is hindering them.