Morocco, a US important regional partner (US Congress Think-Thank)

Successive US Administrations have viewed Morocco as an important regional partner on security, trade, and development, writes the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its latest report.

The Biden Administration has hailed Morocco as “a strategic partner” and lauded its “key role in fostering stability in the region”, underlines the report, affirming that Morocco’s stability has taken on greater prominence amid the conflicts in Libya and the Sahel region and political turbulence in Tunisia and Algeria.

The North African Kingdom is major non-NATO ally and member of the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, adds the report, noting that Morocco and USA signed an FTA in 2004.

In late 2020, ex-President Donald Trump announced the American recognition of Morocco’s full sovereignty over its entire Sahara territory. Following the move, the US redraws its maps accordingly and reaffirms its firm support to Morocco’s proposal of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, describing it as “serious, realistic, and credible”, says the CRS report.

US-Morocco security cooperation is extensive. Morocco has been a growing recipient of US Defense Department global train and equip programs in recent years, adds the document, recalling that Morocco hosts an annual US multinational military exercise, African Lion, involving thousands of soldiers from the United States and other countries in North and West Africa.

The report also praises Morocco’s “comprehensive” counterterrorism strategy, which includes “vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation and counter-radicalization policies.”

Besides American recognition of the Moroccanness of the Sahara and support to the Moroccan autonomy plan offered for its southern provinces, at least 20 countries—mostly located in Africa—have opened diplomatic consulates in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla, a move viewed as a recognition of Moroccan sovereignty, says the report, noting that Washington also pledged to open a Consulate in the Sahara.

The CRS document sheds light on the role played by Algeria in the Sahara regional conflict as the country hosts and backs the Polisario, which has ties with Iran and Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

The escalating tensions by Algerian rulers with their neighboring Morocco have long stymied security and economic cooperation in North Africa, says the US Congressional Service, recalling in this regard the unilateral decision made by Algeria, in late August 2021, of cutting bilateral diplomatic ties with Rabat. The move came in the context of Morocco’s diplomatic rapprochement with Israel within the frame of the US-brokered Abrams accords.

The report says Morocco expressed regret and rejected the premise of Algeria’s decision; praising the wise initiative made in early August by King Mohammed VI who had publicly called for Algerian-Moroccan reconciliation.

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