Anouar Haddam is one of the most patriotic Algerians I have ever met. I had the privilege to meet Mr. Haddam in the mid-nineties when he was new to the United State where he arrived from his native Algeria asking for political asylum.
One of the founding members of the Islamic Front for Salvation (FIS), Mr. Haddam fervently believed in a Maghreb where Algeria and Morocco are united and strong. To my dismay, the Moroccan authorities gave him and the rest of the FIS leadership scant support and insufficient political backing. This was a mistake that Rabat cannot afford to make, as the Kingdom make overtures toward the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabyle (MAK).
While the FIS and the MAK are very different in several aspects, they have been both Morocco’s natural allies in Algeria. The FIS support is based on religion, as the leadership of the organization believes in a united Islamic ouma (nation) and thus view Polisario separatists as a diversion and an abomination. For the Kabyle, the Polisario is a tool used by the Algerian military to distract the people from what MAK calls Algiers policy of “humiliation, discrimination and, de-Imazighenization” against the people of Kabylia.
As it was the case for the FIS in 1990’s, Kabyle activists find themselves in the tricky situation where they need the backing of major regional and international players to achieve their dream of self-determination, but worry about portraying their movement as a tool in the hands of Algeria’s perceived enemies, especially Morocco.
Morocco’s recent call on the United Nations for intervention to protect the thousands of MAK activists and sympathizers being persecuted by the Algerian central government is a step in the right direction. The Moroccan government has finally woken up from its deep sleep and realized that the Algerian military campaign to support the self-determination in the Western Sahara can be copied and used to defend the right of the Kabyle to self-rule.
While Algeria provides significant support to Polisario armed group, Morocco certainly does not provide as much support for the non-violent MAK. The main reason for this is that Morocco does not want to undermine the central government in Algiers for fear of creating a political and security vacuums in the region. However, as the Algerian government intensifies its anti-Morocco campaigns on the international scene, Rabat may have no choice but to put its weight behind the newly installed MAK government in exile.
Unlike Algeria, which has militarily, diplomatically and financially supported the Polisario armed militia in their quest for independence , Morocco, thus far, has reluctantly supported the Kabyle people morally and diplomatically in their just fight for self-rule. Morocco’s proposed support for the MAK is not a type of regional patronage aimed at destabilizing or weakening a neighboring country. It is rather a policy of assisting local and native peoples of North Africa in their quest for self-rule. But this type of support is likely to change soon.
It may be time for Morocco to fully engage in supporting the MAK and the Provisional Government of Kabylia (Anavad) in its campaign to expose the Algerian military campaign to victimize Kabyle people and portray Kabylia as a dangerous place where terrorism thrives.
Moroccan diplomats should work tirelessly around the globe to promote the truth about Algeria’s military intelligence’s (DRS) cover operations against the civilians in Kabylia. The world needs to know the facts around the security situation in the region.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, Lyazid ABID, Vice-president and Minister of International Relations of the Anavad, described the DRS tactics stating that “the heavy military presence in Kabilya is not part of a strategy of the Algerian government to fight Islamic terrorism, nor was it intended to protect civilians. Its sole purpose is to prevent and suppress any popular uprising for the freedom and independence of Kabylia.”
Mr. Abid added that “for Kabyle people, there are no terrorists in Kabylia other than agents of the Algerian intelligence service, DRS, who are disguised as terrorists in order to portray the Kabyles as evil and make the world believe that they have embraced Islamism. Kabylia has no commitment but to freedom, democracy and full respect for human rights.”
Morocco will never support an armed uprising against the Algerian government despite the Algerian Armed Forces’ unconditional military support of the Polisario. However, Moroccans, government and people, should intensify their backing of the peaceful Kabyle movement to achieve self-rule.