- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

Speaks for itself

Former U.S. Ambassador Frank Ruddy might be tilting at windmills, as he tries to shame the United Nations into forcing Morocco to end its occupation of the Western Sahara.

Mr. Ruddy, U.S. ambassador to Equatorial Guinea in the 1980s, served as the U.N. official in charge of a 1994 referendum designed to allow the Sahrawi people of that desert area of North Africa to decide their future. However, Morocco blocked the vote when the Sahrawis appeared prepared to endorse independence.

“Morocco has acted lawlessly and notoriously,” Mr. Ruddy told a U.N. hearing last week. “The question is whether the U.N. is willing or able to restrain Morocco’s lawlessness. Shamefully, the answer so far has been an unequivocal no.”

Morocco justifies its occupation of the Western Sahara based on the traditional loyalty of Sahrawi tribal leaders to the sultan of Morocco. The rebel Polisario Front claims to represent the people’s desire for independence. In 1975, the Moroccan government organized what became known as the “Green March” of 350,000 unarmed Moroccans, who walked across the desert to demonstrate their claim for the territory once controlled by Spain.

The U.N. Security Council has twice condemned the occupation of the Western Sahara but has not enforced its resolutions.

Mr. Ruddy, in his testimony at the U.N. hearing, recalled a common-law doctrine known as “res ipsa loquitur.”

“That is Latin for ‘the thing speaks for itself,’” he explained. “It means that were the accused’s fault is obvious by reciting the facts, no proof is necessary.

“A recitation of Morocco’s crimes — its invasion of Western Sahara, its occupation and colonization for 30 years and its cynical destruction of the referendum set up by the U.N. to settle the question — speak for themselves and for Morocco’s guilt.”

New passport

British Ambassador David Manning yesterday became the first European diplomat in the United States to receive a biometric passport that meets tough new U.S. security standards.

“This is an important milestone,” he said as he got his passport at the British Consulate in Washington.

“The new British biometric passport contains features such as an enhanced security chip, which will help to make international travel as safe and efficient as possible.”

The new passport contains a microchip embedded in the document that can be scanned by a computer to verify the identity of the passport holder.

The United States requires biometric passports from citizens of 27 nations that do not need visas to enter the country. The countries could be dropped from the visa-waiver program if their governments fail to comply with the requirement by next October.

“If we had not developed these passports, you would have had tens of thousands of British citizens flooding the U.S. Embassy in London for visas,” one British diplomat said.

The countries on the visa-waiver list are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Shipshape

Danish Defense Minister Soren Gade today will open a display on his country’s military industry at a reception on a Danish warship docked in Baltimore.

The Absalon is called a flexible support ship because it can serve as a powerful frigate or a logistical support vessel, the Danish Embassy said.

Tomorrow, Mr. Gade meets with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to discuss the fight against Islamist terrorism, including Denmark’s support for military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Denmark has about 500 troops in Iraq and about 170 in Afghanistan.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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