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The Crisis With Morocco Has Roots In Washington

On December 10 the Spanish diplomacy breakfasted with a major surprise, which had not been informed. Donald Trump announced through social networks the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara , making the United States the first Western country to recognize the illegal occupation of the former Spanish colony.

Although the US decision came as a counterpart to the agreement with the Alawite monarchy to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel , as the United Arab Emirates , Bahrain and Sudan had recently done., its consequences were not long in being noticed on the other side of the Strait.

One day after the announcement, Rabat suspended the bilateral summit (High Level Meeting) with Spain that was to be held on December 17 and soon after began to pressure Madrid and Berlin to follow the American trail.

Pressure that has given rise to notorious disagreements since then, culminating this week with the Moroccan decision to open the doors of its border so that thousands of undocumented immigrants could swim to the Spanish shores in Ceuta. The emboldening of Alawite diplomacy was not, however, the only apparent consequence of the agreement with the United States.

A day later, Trump sent Congress a proposal to sell Rabat a new arms package worth $ 1 billion, which would include state- of-the-art drones and precision missiles , according to Reuters. Morocco is the main client of the US arms industry in Africa , where it occupies a strategic position vital to its interests.

Last year it doubled its purchases of North American weapons, which went from 4,000 million dollars in 2019 to 8,500 million, which places the Maghreb country among the 20 best clients in its industry.

Division over the Sahara
But there could be more counterparts, in this case the other way around, because according to the ‘New York Times’, the US is considering investing close to 3,000 million dollars in the banking sector and the Moroccan hotel industry, transactions that the Trump Administration separated from the terms of the standardization agreement. What Trump did do was leave the hot potato of Sahara sovereignty, which divides the US Congress, in the hands of his successor.

Twenty-seven Republican and Democratic senators sent a letter to the White House in February asking it to reverse the decision, described as “myopic” and contrary to US policy in the region in recent decades. And while his appeal is called upon to have a certain weight in the Administration’s calculations, it is difficult to infer that his position is a majority on Capitol Hill.

During the presidency of Barack Obama , when the first caucus of friends of Morocco was opened in Congress, similar to the one in Spain, 54 senators backed Rabat’s proposal to grant the Sahara “broad autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty . ”

Biden has so far not clarified what he intends to do . Her Administration has denied that the Secretary of State, Tony Blinken , communicated in April to his Moroccan counterpart the intention to maintain the recognition of sovereignty, as published by the US press, and the ambassador to the UN has asked that the negotiations be resumed. policies with the Polisario Front to unblock the conflict.

But, for the moment, his Administration has not changed the maps used by the State Department and the CIA , which include the Sahara as part of Morocco.

And as much as Biden wants to preserve Israel’s normalization agreements, the risks to US credibility in international forums are evident. Maintaining recognition of a territory conquered by force would set a dangerous precedent for a country that sanctioned Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea or invaded Iraq in 1991 to reverse the conquest of Kuwait.

Bad deal for a Biden who has promised to preserve international law and strengthen his governance system, something he is also not doing in the occupied Palestinian territories, where he has not reversed Trump’s acknowledgments of the Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan or the capital of Jerusalem. .

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