The election of Morocco to head the very powerful Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) is a significant win for Rabat.
This event is noteworthy for several reasons chief among them the vital role this organ plays in resolving inter-African conflicts. Morocco’s diplomatic push into Africa and its armed force’s major role in peace missions around the continent have finally bear fruits.
According the AU’s website, the PSCV is “the standing organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It is a key element of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which is the umbrella term for the main AU mechanisms for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa.”
By forcing Algeria out of the PSC leadership, a position it held since 2013, Morocco deprives its regional “rival” of a platform that has been used to push for anti-Morocco propaganda within the AU. It seems that Bouteflika’s Soviet-era diplomacy cannot keep up with the fast-moving Afro-centered foreign policy agenda led by King Mohammed VI.
Algerian Ambassador Smail Chergui who held Commissioner for Peace and Security title for four years was known for his extreme anti-Morocco positions. His departure from this position opens the door for the AU to play a more constructive role in the Western Sahara conflict. In fact, this change at the helm of the PSC will likely pave the way for a return of an African involvement in the UN efforts to resolve this long-simmering territorial dispute between Morocco and Algeria.
As Algerian diplomatic presence in Africa and around the world dims, its anti-Morocco goals and policies becomes more vicious. In fact, recent statements by Algerian Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister accusing Morocco of “money laundering and drug trafficking” have shown that the Bouteflika government spends much efforts chasing Morocco rather than promoting its own nation.
Algeria’s diplomatic failure in Libya and its security breakdowns in Mali have exposed its limited reach in the African continent at a time when Morocco have shown a broad development interests in its relations with the continent.
Moroccan banks, telecommunication companies and light industry firms have increased the Kingdom’s commercial presence in Africa, which in turn have led to growing political and diplomatic cooperation between Morocco and other AU members.
Furthermore, Algeria’s inhumane campaign of summarily deporting hundreds of African migrants from its territory and “dropping” them on the borders of Mali and Niger has further damaged the reputation of the North African nation within the AU.
Mali’s recent recall of its Ambassador in Algiers for consultation is the latest setback of the Bouteflika policy in Africa. In fact, Both Mali and Niger have expressed, on several occasions, their deep displeasure with the mistreatment of their citizens at the hands of Algerian security forces.
On the other hand, Morocco has to undertake a campaign to help African immigrants to regulate their status in the country thus protect their rights and help them integrate into Moroccan society.
While Morocco’s ascendance to the chairmanship of the PSC and its African focused international relations are key to the long-term strategic positioning of the Kingdom in Africa and a testament to the success of its new diplomatic approach, the competency of its diplomats and the overall foreign policy of the Moroccans has yet to be thoroughly challenged. Now it is the time to double the efforts and not to run victory laps.
By Hassan Masiky