Morocco-Algeria: The Unbalanced Friendship

San Francisco- For several decades Morocco was able to form solid relationships with countries that can be considered good friends, because they could undoubtedly help tip the balance in our favor when it comes to our country’s sacred cause. Morocco has been a big help to many of these so-called friends.

France considers Morocco a lucrative business partner and the balance of their trade obviously favors France. In fact, France is benefiting from its relationship with Morocco not only from the business side, but also in defending its interests in Africa. For instance, opening our skies to France to accomplish its mission in Mali shows that Morocco is not only viable for France economically, but also strategically.

Spain is no different from France: it takes full advantage of its sometimes-rocky relationship with Morocco. Spanish companies have been mushrooming in Morocco, and Spain is about to surpass France as Morocco’s top economic partner. Spain is getting more than just a rewarding trading partner: it is using Morocco to shield itself from the biggest exodus of sub-Saharan Africans. Morocco, being a “good friend” is shouldering the responsibility for this wave of immigrants, and even went so far as to erect razor wires right outside Sebta and Melilla, the two still-colonized Moroccan cities under Spanish control, to prevent unlawful migrants from entering Spanish territory.

Morocco takes its brotherly relationship with the Gulf countries seriously, and went so far as to sever its diplomatic ties with Iran to please these Arab states.
Morocco is so instrumental to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that it was invited to join the organization and received billions of dollars for being a “good friend”, despite the fact that Morocco is located two thousand miles away.

Morocco is no stranger to Africa and has never shied away from helping several African countries in need. It has contributed countless times to UN peacekeeping missions to keep the peace in Africa. It has hosted and financed Africans studying in Moroccan universities, opened businesses which created jobs in Africa, and above all, entertains very good relations with many of African leaders and decision-makers.

King Mohammad’s most recent visits to several African countries, when many bilateral agreements were initiated, is a clear indicator that Morocco is serious about it its attachment to its African friends.

Morocco is considered a staunch strategic ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism. Many Moroccans love to remind the world that Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the US in the 18th century. These folks need to understand that the people of the United States do not place much value on this fact. One way to be on the good side of the United States is to agree with all their decisions. Morocco has always been a good student, and its interests have always converged with those of the US.

The question that Moroccans are asking is: Why is it that Morocco was never fully able to cement these friendships? Why is that none of the countries mentioned above have ever clearly stated that Western Sahara is Moroccan and should remain Moroccan?

All these so called friends know very well that the Polisario was made and is financed by Algeria. They are very much aware that this so called RASD would not exist without its master Algeria. As a matter of fact, many of its leaders are Moroccans, born in Morocco.

The best Morocco was able to get out of these so-called friends is their support in the UN process. Morocco goes to the extreme to support these countries, and all we get is this short phrase “We support the UN process”? And when they feel generous, they state that the autonomy proposed by Morocco is “serious and credible”.

These friendly statements should not be enough for Moroccan diplomacy. Morocco should demand from these friends to up the ante and say that the addition of this microstate in North Africa is not acceptable. Friends don’t play games with friends and Morocco should start asking for fairness in these so-called friendships.

I can’t help but think about how the United States unconditionally supports their Israeli friends. Moroccan diplomacy should not be content with this unfair and at many times unbalanced friendship with its own friends, especially when we all know that Algeria will never relent in pursuing their dream to see Morocco on its knees and assert itself as the sole power in North Africa.

In the last few weeks, Morocco has finally begun calling on Algeria to shoulder its responsibility regarding Western Sahara. Unfortunately, that will not be enough to persuade the Algerians to come to their senses. Morocco needs to have some serious talks with its friends to convince them that they should tell Algeria to abandon their dream of dividing the territorial integrity of Morocco, and that creating a microstate in North Africa is not something the people of the Maghreb want.

Moroccan officials need to break the status quo and start working hard on finding a way to defend our country against the relentless enemy next door.
Moroccan diplomats should not feel good about themselves losing to an enemy led by an aging wheelchair-confined president. They should not be able to sleep the night knowing that players from the Cold War era are still ruining our future. We in the Maghreb deserve better. We really do.

By Majid Morceli

09/08/2014