Improving Moroccan-African Partnership

 In the midst of the global and regional economic and political turmoil, Morocco has chosen a new approach to its international relations by focusing on the South-South cooperation, and it has been obvious that Morocco is heading towards a successful expenditure in Africa and tightening its bonds with African nations.

 

The withdrawal of Morocco from the Organization of African Unity (OAU), known today as the African Union (AU) back in 1984, had a remarkable impact on Africa on the economic and social levels, and affected security as well.

 

With the increase in terrorism and trans-national organized crime, it has become absolutely crucial for the Sahel and neighboring countries to join efforts with the rest of the continent within the framework of the African Union.

 

Africa is currently facing many challenges, including calls for independence in Azawad, the region's fall to armed Islamists allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and post-coup political turmoil in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

 

These crises require efforts from all African countries to find effective solutions. Countries with political and economic weight, such as Morocco, are particularly needed.

 

Observers who question the effectiveness of Morocco in the fight against terrorism -- given the country's distant geographic distance from the Sahel -should consider other important facts. Morocco faces the threat of terrorism, albeit to a lesser extent than Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. By joining the African Union, Morocco would also join the Joint Military Staff Committee of the Sahel Region (CEMOC) to coordinate the fight against al-Qaeda.

 

This would certainly strengthen logistical coordination and intelligence cooperation among these countries and provide additional military equipment to joint security operations. Consequently, North Africa would become more secure.

 

African Union member states could also benefit from Morocco's relations and strong political and economic interests with the European Union, and its membership in NATO, to strengthen military cooperation with these major entities.

 

This cooperation may include intelligence support, and permission to land military forces in the Sahara, where terrorist groups and criminal gangs carry out their criminal activities. The impact of the Moroccan armed forces in fighting terrorism in Sahel will be significant due to its years fighting organized militia in the Southern territories.

 

The Moroccan monarch King Mohammed VI has been conducting series of official visits to African nations to boost the bilateral relations and open new ventures and markets in the continent. Moroccan investments have grown significantly in the last few years focusing mainly on improving infrastructure, providing electricity to villages as well as security and telecommunications. Needless to mention that Morocco has always had a spiritual and religious influence in the Sub-Saharan countries, and the kingdom always encourages an exchange of scholars and always took the initiative to form and educate local religious leaders in the Moroccan universities and schools.

 

After successful official visits to Gabon, Senegal and Ivory Coast, the Moroccan monarch flew to Bamako, Mali to attend the inauguration of the new Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The monarch marked his official visit by series of meetings with many world leaders attending the inauguration. It was also marked by the royal visit accompanied by the newly installed Malian President to the field hospital set by the Moroccan armed forces in the heart of the capital Bamako to provide medical assistance to Malians and contribute in establishing peace and stability in the country. The visit was also highlighted by meetings with religious leaders, who showed great appreciation to the monarch and the kingdom for the continuous support provided to Malian scholars and clerks.

 

All in all, the Moroccan government has always worked to make Africa's voice heard in the world and to develop cooperation and solidarity between its various components, and it is about time that the African Union restore Morocco to where it belongs for what would be beneficial to the entire continent.

Mourad Beni-ich