President Donald Trump is carrying out his latest diplomatic coup – a partial normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel – for peace in the Middle East and Africa and another achievement for American interests. But as is often the case with Trump, his characterization bears little relation to reality.
At the time of President-elect Joe Biden taking office, Trump’s ill-considered idea may be replayed – if he has a season of criticism from Israel and Morocco.
In fact, this peace deal has broken decades of American foreign policy in North Africa, and sets the stage for more violent conflict, no less. This is because Trump, in a transparent quid pro quo with Morocco, agreed to officially recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara despite decades of international consensus that the situation in the region was peacefully resolved by a referendum had to go.
This is another example of the Trump administration running on people and norms that do not care about it in pursuit of its own ephemerality. And endangering American interests and stability for a photo op.
Western Sahara is an arid, sparsely populated region running south of Morocco in northwest Africa and along the coast north and west of Maurvania. Until some time ago, the harsh desert expanse was primarily inhabited by nomadic people of Saharaites, mixed Berber-Arabic and Black African descent.
The Western Sahara lacked a central government, when it was annexed by Spain in 1884. In the 1970s, the Saharvi people led a successful rebellion, culminating in Spain’s hasty in 1975, only to pounce on neighboring Morocco and Mauritania. The region is believed to have been separated from them by European colonialism.
However, the International Court of Justice made a non-binding ruling that year that neither Mauritania nor Morocco had antecedent sovereignty over the region – and its phosphates, offshore oil and fishing resources – despite historical ties. According to the United Nations, the Sahrawis themselves displayed a “heavy consensus” for independence.
The claims of competition resulted in violence, and most of the Saharvi population fled to refugee camps in Algeria, which came under napalm bombing from Moroccan warplanes. Over the next 15 years the Saharawi nationalist Polisario Front, augmented by heavy arms acquired through sympathetic Algerian and Libyan governments, waged war with the Moroccan and Mauritian forces.
While Mauritania withdrew from the Western Sahara in 1979, in 1981 the Moroccan army began building more than 1,700 miles of artificial sand berms with more than 100,000 soldiers and the longest quarry zone on the planet making the Polis Front even more remote. Included in the inner region of. Contested regions.
The conflict claimed the lives of 11,000 people until 1991, when the United Nations arranged for a cease-fire, freezing the front lines and leaving the region’s position pending a referendum. Decades later, Morocco refused to allow a referendum. Meanwhile, its security forces continue to detain, attack and torture 80 percent of pro-independence compatriots in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara, leaving the region with a human rights record. The Polisario Front controls 15 percent of the remaining inhumans, but tens of millennials still reside in Algerian refugee camps.
Since the cease-fire, US policy has generally been one of neutrality on the question of sovereignty. Now, however, Trump has explicitly stated the United States’ support for Morocco’s claims, rejecting the referendum. The State Department is remodeling the map to support its rhetoric and plans to open a consulate in the region.
The US stance does not legally change the situation in the region more broadly, but it will likely encourage Rabat on its policy of gradually demoralizing the Syrian settlers to settle ethnic Moroccans in the region. Will develop commercial interests and violent oppression. Pro-independence activist.
The road to hope for a referendum could spark a renewed war, as sympathizers may have to see violence as a way to pursue their goals. This is particularly worrying of the skirmishes that broke out between the Polisario Front and the Moroccan military in November, weeks before Trump’s announcement. Algeria, Morocco’s regional rival, and the risk of continued fighting in conflict and instability could lead to an influx of arms and refugees going out of Africa, as has already happened in the Libyan civil war.
The Morocco-Israel deal makes it even more possible, as it apparently came with a $ 1 billion weapons package to Morocco, including long-time surveillance drones and precision-guided missiles and bombs that Western The Moroccan army could use the Sahara.
Of course, Trump’s concession to Morocco has nothing to do with North African security and diplomatic victory on behalf of Israel to burn Trump’s reputation. Already this year, he has inspired the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan to normalize relations with Israel by offering liberal US arms sales and political concessions.
Certainly, the agreement on direct flights and diplomatic services between Morocco and Israel could benefit more than 10 million Spanish Israelis and pave the way for other Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. But in fact, the deal is more symbolic than the original. Morocco and Israel already have a long history of helping each other through espionage, assassination and military aid. Israel was actually one of the countries advising the construction of a defensive wall in the Western Sahara.
In fact, in 1986, Morocco’s King Hassan II attempted a diplomatic inauguration with Israel, only to be intimidated by pressure from other Arab states. Today, the wealthy ruling Gulf states favor Arab states, which typically turn to Israel because of its anti-Iran agenda, which Morocco also shares, reducing this barrier.
Given the relationship between Israel and Morocco and the changing Arab orientation towards Israel, the US should not go out of its way to pursue two countries that are already capable of protecting themselves – and each other – .
Washington should instead look after its larger national interests in stability and peace in North Africa, where regional conflicts have made room for terrorist groups. Despite the best efforts of local governments, Morocco and Algeria have proved a fertile recruitment base for the Islamic State terrorist group. In addition, weapons fired out of Libya torn in civil war have fed violent conflicts in Mali and Nigeria.
Washington should instead look after its larger national interests in stability and peace in North Africa, where regional conflicts have made room for terrorist groups.
And this precedes achieving unsustainable American values of democratic self-determination and human rights. Trump shamefully betrayed both his reputation and the name of burning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.
Fortunately, Trump’s ill-considered deal can still be withdrawn when President-Elect Joe Biden assumes office – if he has the privilege of having a season of criticism from Israel and Morocco. In fact, Biden would be wise to disregard those who view short-sighted war resumed in North Africa as an acceptable risk of doing business.