The Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, released yesterday, is a decisive win for Morocco. This diplomatic triumph came about because of actions and efforts undertaken by King Mohammed VI, some observers noted. The mild text of the resolution demonstrates the extent of Morocco’s success in diluting American attempts to amend the U.N. mission in Western Sahara to include human rights monitoring.  

 

Moroccans, using social media, watched with great interest the flurry of diplomatic and political activities sparked by the American initiative. King Mohammed VI, known for his tough and no-sense approaches, instructed his Advisers and members of his cabinet to sprint into action to counter what Moroccans consider interference in their internal affairs.

 

The decision to cancel Moroccan-American Military exercises and the Royal advisers visits to Moscow and Peking were closely followed in Morocco where the public rooted for their country’s position and applauded these initiatives.

 

In Washington, Royal envoys restated Morocco's increasing strategic importance to the U.S. in the wake of the Mali crisis and the proliferation of terror groups in the Grand Sahara. Given the Kingdom’s fight against extremism and its wiliness to contribute to the U.S. agenda in the war on terrorism in the Sahel, Morocco should receive a greater interest at the White House level, explained a Moroccan diplomat not too happy with the American action at the United Nations.

 

Aware of the significance of the Moroccan-American special relations, Moroccan officials took pains to convey their displeasure with their American friends’ action at the U.N. without damaging the longstanding friendship that ties the two nations. The Royal instructions were to remind some American officials of the institution-based nature of the Moroccan-American bond.

 

By taking the lead in this crisis, the Royal Cabinet highlighted Morocco’s significant role in America’s long-term strategy in North Africa.  Associations and interactions between institutions such as the Royal Armed Forces and the United States Armed Forces or the Moroccan intelligence community and the Central Intelligence Agency define American-Moroccan relations.

 

While firmly expressing their country’s irritation with one U.S. Ambassador's proposal, Moroccan officials were directed to insure that the distinguished military, economic and intelligence relations between the two countries would not be tarnished because of a diplomatic faux pas. Conscious that national interests define American positions and determine its foreign policy, supporters of Morocco in the U.S. did not allow a group of so-called activists hijack and disfigure Washington’s stance in the Western Sahara dossier.

 

It was; indeed, time to remind some American officials of Rabat’s vital role in keeping peace and stability in the volatile region of North Africa and the Sahel. This kind of   assertive approach should be the norm for the Kingdom’s foreign policy to unmask any further foreign diplomatic traps.

 

The language in the final U.S. drafted resolution for the extension of the MINURSO, which encourages all the parties “to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights”, is a compromise in the spirit of the Moroccan-American friendship and signals a new chapter in the relations between the Kerry State Department and the Moroccan Government.

Hassan Masiky

28/04/2013