Statement by Professor Anne Lippert, Ohio University

by Anne Lippert
Ada, Ohio
July 23, 1979
7 pages
Type: Testimony
Coverage in Africa: Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Western Sahara
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Testimony of Anne Lippert to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa Hearings on the Conflict in Western Sahara and U.S. Policy in Washington, DC. The statement says I have visited the refugee camps of the Saharawis of Western Sahara (in the area around Tindouf, Algeria) three times; this summer I traversed part of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (the former Spanish Sahara_ during a ten day period. The testimony says the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic is a territory about 110,000 square miles, approximately the size of Colorado, or half the size of France and just slightly smaller than Italy. The testimony says there are presently over 100,000 Saharawis in refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria (persons who fled to that area from the S.A.D.R. beginning in 1976) and there are still Saharawis in cities in the S.A.D.R. (those controlled by Morocco), in Mauritania, and, of course, in the Polisario fighting force in the S.A.D.R. The testimony says the Atlantic coastline of the S.A.D.R. is over 1,000 kilometers long; this is one of the richest fishing fields in the world today. The testimony says the phosphate resources of the S.A.D.R. are the fourth richest in the world; the area around Fos Bu Craa is 80% phosphate. The testimony says mining tests undertaken in the late 1960's indicate that there vast mineral resources in the S.A.D.R., titanium, vanadium, zinc, uranium, copper, gold, natural gas, magnetite, iron and petroleum; iron reserves are estimated at 70 million tons; the large petroleum, discovery made by Esso geologists in 1969 around Tarfaya (southern Morocco) indicate that the greatest part of that find of petroleum is located within S.A.D.R. The testimony says the Saharwi Red Crescent distributes food stuffs, medicines, and clothing supplied by Support Committees, humanitarian groups, and the Algerian Red Crescent to local communities. The testimony says as a political organization the Polisario Front dates to 1973 while Spain still administered the Spanish Sahara as a Protectorate; resistance to colonialism dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The testimony says the argument is proffered that since Polisario receives arms from other nations, the U.S. should become even more involved in arms sales and grants to Morocco; Morocco is currently supplied with arms by France and the U.S.; that nation has received major increases in U.S. arms grants since 1975. The testimony says it must be recalled that Morocco was the aggressor in this conflict; there would be no attacks on Tan Tan, Morocco if Morocco had not, even prior to the Madrid Accords and the Green March, invaded the territory of the S.A.D.R. with armed Moroccan forces. The testimony says I have been told by the U.S. State Department in a number of letters that the official position of the U.S. in the conflict is one of neutrality; it is difficult to square this statement with the fact that the U.S. ignored Moroccan violations of its 1960 arms agreement with the U.S. from 1975 to 1978 and continues to do so (use of U.S. arms outside Moroccan territory). The testimony discusses non-alignment, Bachir Mustapha Sayed, the Revolutionary Council, the National Council, the Red Cross, journalists, the Fourth Popular Congress, the Saharawi National Council, the Third Popular Congress, Society arms, King Hassan II, Echederia, Jdeira, the International Court of Justice, the O.A.U. (Organization of African Unity, OAU), el Aiun, Dr. Jeffrey Schulman of Urbana College, F-5s, bullets, an American-made machine gun, and President Carter.
Used by permission of Anne Lippert.
Collection: Private collection of Richard Knight