US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara: A historic diplomatic masterstroke
Morocco was the first country to recognize the fledgling Republic of the United States of America under Alawite sultan Mohammed III in 1777. That’s why Washington has always favored Morocco as a pivotal strategic partner in the North African region.
Successive US administrations and especially the Reagan administration have assisted Morocco to preserve its territorial integrity and guarantee its sovereignty in the disputed territory of Western Sahara against the bad will of neighboring Algeria that has relentlessly backed the Polisario since its foundation in 1973.
Few weeks before his death, King Hassan II wrote a letter to the former speaker of the US House of Representatives Mr. Dennis Hastert urging US congressmen to recognize Morocco’s territorial rights and help the kingdom consummate its territorial integrity. The letter was delivered to Dennis Hastert upon the first historic state visit that King Mohammed VI made to USA in 2000.
US officials in different succeeding US administrations have unanimously extolled the leading role that Morocco has responsibly played as a moderate Arab state in the Middle East peace process as it brokered the Camp David peace deal that paved the way to normalizing diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel after the historic visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on November 20, 1977 to the Knesset in Jerusalem where he pronounced a resounding speech before its members.
Morocco also contributed to a rapid rapprochement between Israel and the PLO as both sides signed the Oslo accords on 13 September 1993 in Washington DC under the best auspices of former US President William Jefferson Clinton.
Although Morocco closed Israel’s liaison office in Rabat in 2000 after Israel’s repeated aggressions in the Palestinian occupied territories, it has maintained an unbroken discreet military and intelligence cooperation according to many analysts. Morocco has influence also on its well-respected, valuable Moroccan Jewish community which constitutes today one sixth of Israeli population. Since the Almohad era, Moroccan dynasties have always cushioned the Jewish community living in Morocco. Sultan Mohammed V was very anxious to ensure the full protection of Moroccan Jews before their mass exodus to Israel after Morocco’s independence.
The Jewish Diasporas living in different western countries still pledge unconditional allegiance to Alawite monarchs from Mohammed V, Hassan II and his successor Mohammed VI. This proves that these strong ties would be a great testimony of the great Jewish revival under the lasting, high patronage of late King Hassan II and his son Mohammed VI who all have kept the Moroccan Jewish banker André Azoulay as their reliable senior adviser for nearly three decades.
The American Jewish community on its turn continues to praise highly the prevailing aura of tolerance and coexistence existing between Muslims, Jews and Christians in the North African kingdom.
If the US convincingly recognized Morocco’s full sovereignty over its Sahara, this would not exacerbate more tensions and perhaps trigger a war of attrition as skeptical analysts advance. But former colonial powers such France and Spain favour backing a lasting political solution under the aegis of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Russia openly and furiously criticizes US unilateral recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara under the blessing and political great insight of US President Donald Trump. The residual bloc of rejection still awfully fears reverse results after this historic diplomatic masterstroke achieved under Moroccan diplomacy thanks to American incomparable steadfast support to the Moroccan cause since the early 1980s.
It is clear that both France and Spain do not like to compromise their respective bilateral relations with Algeria - a major oil-and-gas purveyor in the south Mediterranean close to southern European countries. Russia as a strategic partner of Algiers also advocates its vital interests in the region especially after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lightning visit to Algeria in March 2006 to sign the biggest arms deal with Algeria.
Republican US President Donald Trump’s historic proclamation, after a steady course of letters’ exchange between King Mohammed VI and the incumbent of the White House that started in 2018, would constitute an abiding achievement enriching significantly the longstanding golden Moroccan-US relations.
Also, successful dissemination of Morocco’s Larger Autonomy Plan (LAP) worldwide spearheaded by Moroccan diplomacy under visionary leadership and kingship of Moroccan sovereign Mohammed VI since March 2007 will undoubtedly contribute to the rise of a promising era of stability and durable détente in the realm of international relations since most countries in the world indeed had gradually withdrawn their de facto recognition of the Polisario entity and the so-called SADR (Saharan Arab Democratic Republic).
At the instigation of King Mohammed VI, Moroccan troops freed the border checkpoint of Guerguerat in November 2020 after driving the Polisario militias into a corner.
Most Arab, African and European states lauded Morocco’s magnificent military move to force the separatists to evacuate the corridor.
This Moroccan strategic feat would enable both Morocco and neighboring Mauritania to resume their trade relations and open up the Sahel market to Moroccan trade and exports.
As both Morocco and the US completely converge on Moroccan territorial integrity and sovereignty, this will undoubtedly assist the belligerent parties to reach a lasting agreement under UN aegis based on international legality, seriousness and legitimacy.