Friday, August 19, 2005
Today, they were released.
Morocco welcomed home 404 prisoners of war on Thursday, the last of more than 2,400 to be freed after being held by Western Sahara's exiled Polisario Front independence movement, some for more than two decades.
Two privately chartered planes carrying the prisoners, some of them more than 60 years old, landed in the southern city of Agadir, about 600 km (375 miles) from the Moroccan capital.
State television showed the men wearing baseball caps and sports clothes and carrying sports bags rushing to buses after landing. Some knelt in prayer as soon as they left the plane.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the prisoners' release in Tindouf, southwest Algeria, followed U.S. mediation....
Kofi Annan tried to bask in the glow of this American success, but there is no question that once again American intervention achieved what the Security Council could not achieve:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the release and hoped it would "serve to foster better relations between the parties and contribute to overcoming the present political impasse," his chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said....
Rabat thanked the U.S. administration for helping end the "ordeal endured by hundreds of prisoners" who had been held "in a blatant violation of international law" after the end of the armed conflict in 1991.
Neither the Polisario Front nor Algeria were to be thanked for the move, it said. "Their liberation is a belated fulfilment of an international obligation which has been demanded several times by the U.N. Security Council, yet it was ignored."
The Security Council "demanded" the release of these Moroccon prisoners "several times," but it was "ignored." American intervention, however, was not ignored. Algeria and the Polisario Front listened to the United States after having ignored the UNSC. Why?
Feel free to propose answers in the comments.