The Summit of Sahara
Heather Von Henderson, Rechroatian Councilor
St. Marcus' Cathedral in Zadar
Today, on 25th of May, four countries which have decided to actively involve themselves with the war over Western Sahara have decided to form a summit to discuss the cause in perhaps the most beautiful city in Europe: Zadar, the capital of Red Croatia. Those that have decided to attend this meeting are: Heather Von Henderson, Archbishop Craticus, High President Michael Solomon, Cynthia Johnson and of course, her Majesty Aleksandra Van Aries the Third. The meeting was to be held in the Queen's Castle, but the attendants were told to visit the St. Marcus Cathedral, where the ride arranged by Heather Von Henderson will bring them to their final destination.
As an attempt to keep things civil from the very beginning, Aleksandra Van Aries has sent each attendant gift baskets filled with all kinds of rechroatian delights, specifically chocolate and other sweets. She, like the councilor who will be attending the meeting alongside her, is hoping that this indeed ends with a diplomatic agreement, and that she doesn't have to involve the force under her castle's command.
On the plane approaching Zadar
"Madam President, we are approaching the city," said one of President Cynthia Johnson's aides on the trip. This aide, in particular, was well versed in the culture of Red Croatia, his father being Rechroatian. "The Queen of Red Croatia, Aleksandra Van Aires III, sent us a gift of sweets."
"Yes, well, I hope that this is not the gloved hand that deals the harsh blow," President Johnson replied. "I would not like to bring up a proposal for war to the Union Parliament, but if I have to, I will."
"Do you really think that war will be a result of this here?" asked the aide.
"Well, the fact that the Commission is being left impotent by this whole doing, it could lead there eventually. I will have to, if things sour at this meeting, speak with the Marrakechians about the next step as well. At least Halsberg will be attending as well," the President spoke. "I have had some words with him before about this conflict, and it seems that we may be in agreement."
The plane touched down at the airport, and escort vehicles was waiting for the President and the members of her entourage and security.
Archbishop Paul Craticus yawned and leaned back in his seat. His eyes seemed to be glazed over in thought. I haven't slept in days. Plane flights are so tedious when I'm under so much pressure. I'm so glad the College agreed to increase my spending budget... I'd hate to actually fly on public airplanes. Imagine if I had to fly economy class. That'd be unbearable. It would still be better than listening to that Inimican Commissioner. It's clear that those who oppose my intentions don't even know the history behind it.
A voice came over the intercom and disturbed Craticus' thought pattern. It was this new artificial intelligence they installed into the private jet. Craticus called the AI 'Martha'.
"Your Excellency, we will be arriving in Red Croatia in approximately 10 minutes. landing gear is already out. Please buckle up, there might be some turbulance."
"Yes, yes, thank you Martha."
Craticus looked out through the window and at the vista ahead. He could see the city of Zadar peeking out beneath the clouds. Quite pretty, he thought to himself. Unlike this situation we're in. It was becoming abundantly clear that there were those who opposed Sahrawi freedom. It was also becoming clear that while no blood had been spilled, that there were nations willing to risk it. It didn't have to be a conflict, but it sure might become one.
The High President, along with a entourage of aides and assistants, had left Thurston a few hours before. For many on the flight, including Solomon, this was their first trip to the country of Red Croatia; the High President was sad that it could not be a happier one. He had been constantly updated on the events in the Sahara throughout the day, and jumped at the chance to discuss it with his counterparts in the EU.
"We're beginning our descent now, sir." The young aide, who's name tag identified him as Billy, spoke with a heavy Roeburg accent.
"Good. Lets hope we can get this resolved. Also, what on earth is this?" The High President gestured towards the large gift basket that was seated opposite them.
"A present from the Rechroatian queen, sir. It contains a wide assortment of confectionery and other things. No doubt an attempt to keep things civil from the beginning".
"Hmph! Old fashioned bribery, I should think.", the High President replied gruffly. "Share it out around the plane. I'm on a diet."
The plane touched down at Zadar airport. The High President emerged, and moved to the car which awaited him.
Landing in Zadar, the Archbishop was immediately ushered off from his plane and into a a black limousine. A blonde secretary began to quickly fuss over the wrinkles on the Archbishop's suite as he attempted to seat himself inside the limousine. She then rapidly began applying chapstick to his chapped lips. Craticus gingerly pushed her hand from his face. "Please brief me on what to expect".
The secretary smiled and nodded. "We're now making our way to St. Marcus Cathedral. Councillor Heather Von Henderson, High President Michael Solomon, and Cynthia Johnson will be meeting you there. Oh and of course her majesty Aleksandra Van Aries the Third will be in attendance."
Craticus chuckled. "I think I've spent enough time with Van Aries. Don't get me wrong, I love Aleksandra but I'm just all too used to her perfume. Good thing I bought her Avril Lavinge's new perfume. They just started seeing it at the airport's duty free section. I think she'll be pleased with it. It smells like 'Hello Kitty' apparently? Whatever that means."
The secretary and laughed and unveiled a gift basket. "This is for you. It's from the Rechroatian delegation. It has your favourite Rechroatian chocolate in there. I believe its called Choco Loco."
Craticus quickly wrestled the gift basket from the secretary. "You have no idea how much I love Choco Locos. But they always upset my allergies. It's quite the struggle: to eat them or not to eat them? I think I should save them for after the conference. I don't want to poison myself, although I'm sure some of the other delegates might approve."
Craticus' limousine pulled up just outside of the Cathedral. As he opened the door the press immediately began harassing him. The flash from photographer's cameras blinded him as he made his way inside.
Heather smiles at the sight of all representatives gathering from the top of the cathedral's tower, and slowly makes her way down as she orders her goons to take care of the press, something that they've managed to perform rather easily. This was Red Croatia after all, being a politician gave you great power. Then, after the press cleared out, Heather managed to find her way to the others, smiling: "Well, well, it's quite a refreshing sight to see us all gathered here! But let's not keep it up for long, shall we? The Queen has stated that she wants to have us in her Grand Castle as soon as possible, and that is a wish that I'm planning on fulfilling. Therefore, shall we?"
Heather smiles once more as she walks trough the cathedral's great doors, walking over to a limo as she has the others follow. Soon as they all make it inside, they're greeted with all kinds of alcoholic drinks, more sweets.. among other things. The Queen sure thought about everything. As they were on their way, Heather was successfuly keeping up a small talk about food, but as they reached the castle, the things got far more serious. It was no longer time for games, it was time to get down to business.
The four representatives were led to the Queen's Royal Library by her servants, and once they've arrived, they were made to sit down on a table surrounded by five chairs, with only one of them being empty. But not for long. Soon after their seats, the Queen has arrived in a rather royal fashion, wearing a luxurious short red dress decorated with precious stones and a brilliant white smile on her face.
As she approached the table, Heather smiles once again as well, standing up and shaking the Queen's hand, right before both of them returned to their seat. The Queen then begins the conversation rather subtly: "Welcome to Red Croatia.."
The High President, who had gotten on surprisingly well with Ms. von Henderson, was the first to speak.
"Thank you, your majesty, for your hospitality and willingness to host such an important meeting at such short notice. We are all of course here to discuss the Inquistan occupation and forced independence of the Marrakechian portion of the Western Sahara region. Let me start setting out Halsberg's view very clearly: we oppose this occupation and forced independence, and completely support the Marrakechian government. We call on Inquistan and Rimrothian forces to withdraw, and for the so called Committee for Western Sahara's Autonomy to restore control the legitimate Marrakechian government. It is unfortunate that this has happened, especially when Halsberg and Inquista have been firm friends in the past. This is, however, one time where we cannot agree. From my point of view, this has been a simple land-grab, with the arguments that there are terrorists who need to be subdued a mere fa?ade. No doubt there are terrorist cells operating in the area, but why has Inquista only acted now, rather than in years past? We have all heard the argument that terrorism must be followed wherever it goes a million times before. In pretty much all of them, a long and bloody conflict has begun. This is why I am here. To protect the lives of the Sahrawi People from the spectre of war which Inquista, supported by Red Croatia, have brought upon them. We reject the authority of the WSA Committee and refuse to recognise 'The Sahwari Union'."
As the High President finished speaking, he thought to himself that perhaps he had been a bit strong. But such strength was needed if he was to ensure war was avoided and lives were saved.
Craticus cringed as the High President made false accusations. Terrorists? What? The Archbishop shook his head and spoke up.
"I would like to ask you Mr. President as to when I, or anybody else, claimed that there were terrorists currently active in the Sahara? We did not occupy the Marrakechian portion of the Western Sahara because of terrorists. Never claimed to do so. Maybe you're talking about back in 2011? In 2011 Inquista did in fact act against terrorists, and we did so immediately. During 2011 a popular Sahawri-nationalist terrorist group known as the Polisario committed atrocities against the Sahawri and the Marrakechian government. Inquista acted to protect the Sahawri and Marrakechian people. Marrakechian and Inquistan forces had both moved in and split up the Sahara accordingly. Most of the Western Sahara had been Inquistan territory while Marrakechia annexed the rest. I have made it our duty to finally give the Sahawri people autonomy. The Sahawri land is as much ours as it is the Marrakechians. It does not belong to either of us. We are giving them independence. The Sahawri people ruled the Western Sahara before 2011, and over 90% of the people in the Western Sahara are Sahawri, not Marrakechian. There is no reason for it to be handed over to the Marrakechian government. We have given them independence without bloodshed and have acted as peacekeepers. Inquistan forces gave them stability and freedom to rule. What objections do you have to this?"
The British President looked across at the Halsberg High President, and admired his blunt approach to the situation. It was a bit sudden to all parties, she realized, but then got up her own courage to speak as well.
_'My colleague from Halsberg is absolutely correct. We have been down this road before in Europe. Many of you know claim to be fighting terrorists, and I am familiar with the Polisario. We do not wish for them to terrorize innocent people, do not get Britain's position wrong.
'What you are doing, however, is illegal on many bounds. Marrakechia requested help from Inquista in 2011, but now it has become an excuse to hold onto the Western Sahara, and now that Inquista has patiently waited for the opportunity, have seized that moment. The Inquistan state has sponsored the government to prop up, which I can hardly say is self-determination of people.
'Claiming ethnic differences in population is hardly a reason to carve out new territory without consulting the nation that the territory resides in, which is still Marrakechia. You also risk genocide or violence against the 10% ethnic minority if you simply carve out new territory. Not to mention that I have my doubts that an absolute monarchy would want to join in and make a new republican territory. That already seems suspicious.'_
The British President and the Halsberg High President waited for the other side to state their opinions.
"My objections are easy to understand. Quite simply, that portion of the Western Sahara is not yours, and as such you have no business being there. Marrakechia has been recognised as the legitimate governor of this half of the Sahara which your forces have now occupied. If you care so passionately about the freedom and independence for the Sahwari people, why did you not petition the Marrakechian government to make moves in that direction. To the best of my knowledge, no such pressure was applied. Instead, you took it upon yourself to roll into territory which was not yours to control and install what can only be called a puppet government. Perhaps if you wanted freedom and independence for the Sahara so much you should not have, as the IBC describes, sent helicopters showering over the sky. You should have instead kept them in their hangars and worked peacefully, instead of risking a long and bloody war which would do the sahara no good whatsoever."
"We are not claiming to fight terrorists. I, nor any of the other commiteee members of the WSA have claimed such. As I've already mentioned, Inquista did stand up to injustice and fought against the Polisario in 2011. So if anyone should be giving lectures on how to deal with terrorists, it should be coming from someone who actually has dealt with them. And as the Archbishop of Inquista, I have also dealt with the CACI. I can handle terrorist just fine.
It is not illegal in any way shape or form. We have respected all international and European law. Is the Duxburian or Angleteric occupation of Neo-Venetia illegal? In both cases, no. Excuse to hold unto the Western Sahara? Inquista is voluntarily giving up our portion. It's not our land to control, nor should it be controlled by the Marrakechians. It's clear they used the Polisario as an excuse to invade the Western Sahara. Neither of us had a right to it. I certainly don't think giving independence to an oppressed nation is "holding unto it". The Inquistan, Rechroatian and Rimrothian presence in The Sahawri Union will only remain in the region until peace has been reached. That's why we're here. Self-determination will come into effect after two months, when the Committee for Western Saharan Autonomy will be dismissed and new Constitution will be drawn up.
There will be peace in the Sahara. There has been no bloodshed and I hope to keep it that way. Marrakechia had no right to the Western Sahara and they were reluctant to give it up at the end of the war. They had no intention of ever releasing control of the Western Sahara, and if they did, then we did the work for them. There were no Marrakechian troops or officers in the occupied territory. We did not cause any harm to the Marrakechian government, or it's people. The Saharan people will luckily never have to face another war again, unless you see to it. I promise to maintain peace and I will refuse to start a war over this. Inquista, Red Croatia and Rimroth have not even threatened or discussed war at this point. If war and blood shed is to be made, it will only be your hands. Again, that's why we're here. I want to ensure a peaceful and cooperative transition for The Sahawri Union".
"Naturally, I must agree with the Archbishop." the Queen speaks up: "We're not grabbing for land, no'r are we attempting to benefit ourselves. Infact, Inquista is doing the exact opposite thing. We're seeking for Sahara's independence, because neither Marrakechia no'r Inquista have the right to own it, seeing as it only belongs to them due to war that happened on the very land. Sahara, like every other state, requires indpendence. I don't understand why are you opposed to that. Are you forgeting the story behind how Sahara was divided in the first place?"
The Queen then takes a deep breath: "I think that all of you are over-exhadurating, even you, Archbishop. There is no need for war or violence, even though there's military involvement. We're looking for Sahara's independence and well being, not blood on it's sand. If it will truly make you happy, we'll move the troops out, but the WSA Committee will remain until the transition is complete."
"I thank you, your majesty, for expressing such a pacifist view. I'm sure that's something that we can all agree on, that we all want to avoid war at all costs. I would be wary of your proposal, however. If anything is going to happen, the Marrakechian government, who have a large vested interest in the area...seeing as though it was their territory, must consent to it. For Halsberg at least, the only way we will recognise the committee or this new "state" would be for Marrakechia to also accept it. Moving the troops out would be a very promising start, but our main goal is the return of the territory to the control of Marrakechia and we will not be totally satisfied until that is secured."
"Avoding war is our number one priority. It will be avoided at all costs as long as you deem it necessary. If war and lives are to be spent, I will once again remind you that it will be by your own hand and by your own intentions.
Majority of the Western Sahara already belonged to Inquista, while the other portion was under Marrakechian control after it invaded it in 2011. It shouldn't even be a question if Marrakechia recognises it. The land is simply not theirs. Marrakechia has refused to recognise The Sahrawi Union and will continue to do so.
It's simply unacceptable to 'return' the Western Sahara land to Marrakechia when it never controlled majority of it to begin with, and the part it did control, was after it's own invasion in 2011. Was Marrakechia reprimanded with war then? The Marrakechian government accused the Western Sahara of using terrorists to cause a disruption in Marrakechia in 2011. By your own words and accusations, were they then using terrorists as an excuse to invade the land? Never mind the fact that the Sahrawi people form by far the largest ethnic group in The Sahrawi Union, and they intend to remain autonomous."
_"As we deem necessary? Blood by our hands? I defy you, Archbishop, to point to one Halsbergian statement which says we wish to go to war over this issue. Let me save you the trouble. We have never made any warmongering statements on this, and in fact we have been one of the leading voices in the cause to avoid bloodshed.
You say the land is "simply not theirs". Who does it belong to, then? You? The client state of your own creation? I say no. The portion that belonged to Marrakechia from 2011 still belongs to Marrakechia, and it should be returned to that country. I propose that Inquista and Rimrothian forces withdraw, this committee suspends itself and the land be put under Marrakechian control. After this has been done, a referendum must be held in the area of the Western Sahara. This must be fully democratic and overseen by international observers. We vow, right here and now, to respect the outcome and recognise any new state brought about from such a poll. I have no doubt Marrakechia would join me in doing so. Surely you cannot argue that we are denying them independence, when we have just provided a solution which respects the will for independence, while also respecting everyone's territorial integrity."_
"Except that Marrakechia never reckognized it's independence in the past: why would it want to do so now? We're fixing a mistake of the past here: and that's Marrakechia refusing to respect it's territorial intengrity. It belongs to Sahrawi, not Marrakechia, despite the fact that the current borders state otherwise. And besides, you should be reconsidering your stance for the simple reason of your apparent allies threatening war over this. I haven't seen you do anything against Sahara's take-over before, but now you're so desperate to aid Marrakechia - who has declined it independence?"
"You are fixing a mistake of the past? This is the arrogance that convinced Halsberg to stand against this entire thing. Marrakechia should never have had to recognise its independence it in the past. The region was part of Marrakechia for over 300 years, until it was forcefully taken over by rebels. If that happened in Halsberg, I, and any sensible Halsbergian, would never recognise that breakaway state. Your accusation that you ended with makes no sense whatsoever. You're correct, I am desperate to aid Marrakechia now because its territorial integrity has been threatened only recently. Would anyone give medicine to a perfectly healthy person? No. I would also turn it around on you. I haven't seen you do anything against the Sahara's takeover before, but now you are so desperate to aid Inquista."
"Arrogance behind this? It's quite clear that a substantial amount of those threatening the self-determination of The Sahrawi Union are the arrogant ones. I do not mean to be offend, but it seems like you are not well versed in the history of the events. Marrakechia should not have recognized it's independence in the past? The Sahrawi people fought for independence and managed to achieve that for twenty years! It was clear that the Sahrawi people felt oppressed in a country that treated them nothing more than a petty minority. The Sahrawi people of the Western Sahara are ethnically, culturally and socially different from the rest of the Marrakechians. They lived prosperously for twenty years. Marrakechia then accused them of terrorism and moved in. Inquista did the same. You know why? To stop the supposed terrorism. However, we recognize that they should remain independent and should not be put under Marrakechian rule again. Marrakechia had the right to defend themselves from terrorism, but not blanket it with annexation. Inquista has maintained peace and order and have rooted out the Polisario from the Sahara. We're now giving them independence again, like they deserve.
As for my colleague, I believe she meant to say that you had not opposed Marrakechia using terrorism as a blanket statement to invade another country and re-establish oppression, but now that Inquista has returned the land back to it once was before the insurgency, you have only supported a state that seeks hegemony.
And I'd like to actually reach a resolution and I'm even ready to talk about a compromise. Demanding that we follow your orders, pull out troops, and return the Sahrawi land back to Marrakechians is nothing close to a compromise. It seems that everything we've said so far has flown over your heads. Our troops will remain in The Sahrawi Union until the government is no longer threatened."
The British President looked around the room.
_'The fact of the matter is that the nation in question, Marrakechia, and its territory that is the Western Sahara, was never taken out of its control officially. The Polisario became violent and Marrakechia did not want any more blood shed. Neither did in Inquista, but what once was searching for peace quickly turned into long-term occupation, and now that it is convenient, Inquista is claiming the area wants independence when they were already given greater autonomy by the Marrakechian government, who understandably spent money trying to renovate the Western Sahara as well, with no complaints by the people there. There in lies my objection with this sudden urge to make the area independent.
'I think we have reached an impasse in our summit, but we now understand both sides of the disagreement much better. I would like to take this time to extend to each head of state and/or government to come to London for a conference, in which a plan of action that is more agreeable to each party can be shaped. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. The United Republic, however, will not stay idle in this matter.'_
"The Western Sahara was taken out of Marrakechia control officially, hence why Marrakechia called for Inquistan help to reoccupy it. The long term occupation has been a convenient land grab for both parties involved, which is why we've sought to end the occupation and restore it back to it's independent rule. Our duty was to protect people from terrorists, not annex the territory. Marrakechia has done the opposite. They used the terrorists as a means to retake control of the territory and have them remain there. They defeated the Polisario, so why are they still there? We're not claiming anything, they Sahrawi people themselves fought for freedom and gained it for twenty years. It would be the same as if an Imperial nation waged war against one of it's former colonies with the excuse that it once ruled the land it before it became independent. Once a nation is independent, it's independence should be respected. It's clear Marrakechia had no respect for the independence of the Western Sahara, which had proven to despise Marrakechian rule through it's successful revolution. Besides, the conquered region wasn't given any autonomy. It was simply reabsorbed into Marrakechia.
I applaud the Marrakechian effort to rebuild the Sahara and all it's projects it has done there. We want to continue this healing process without blood shed. Now that the cases have been made, I will gladly attend a summit in London to reach a reasonable and sensible compromise."