Morocco’s Vital Role in a Triangular US-EU-African Relationship

Written by | Friday, November 22nd, 2013
M. Guillermo Guttierrez

Morocco has centuries-old relations with the United States that date back to the eighteenth century when the two nations signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship which is still in force today and which is the longest unbroken treaty in U.S. history.
Morocco is linked to Europe, its major economic partner, by a historical, longstanding partnership.
Morocco’s links to Africa are multifaceted and its geo-economic role in the continent is constantly growing.
The U.S President Barack Obama who is meeting this Friday at the White House with the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, should build on the North African country’s deep relations in the three continents to foster a US-EU-African triangular relationship that will undoubtedly support American interests in Europe and Africa, and also serve U.S. security interests in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Maghreb and the Sahel.
Morocco, as an Arab and Islamic Nation that is part of the MENA region as well as of the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds, is a major stakeholder in all these regions, and more especially in the Maghreb and the Sahel which have become one of the world’s most politically fragile regions, in the wake of the 2011 popular protests across the MENA region that led to regimes’ downfalls in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, to the ongoing civil strife in Syria, and also, indirectly, to the Malian war after radical Islamists seized Khaddafi’s arsenal and tried to conquer the northern parts of the West African country.
These events that helped terrorists thrive in the region and establish what pundits call an “arc of instability” that stretches across the African continent have made the region a top counterterrorism priority for the United States and its European allies.
And Morocco which stood out as an exception amid these upheavals since it had anticipated its citizens’ expectations for change and initiated constitutional, institutional, political and social reforms long before what is called “the Arab Spring” can play, as put by Peter Pham from The Atlantic Council’s Africa Center “an even greater role in leading regional security and development progress.”
Besides, Morocco which has been targeted by terrorist attacks has adopted a multi-pronged approach to combating violent extremism and radicalization whose results have been described by many analysts as impressive.
It was not therefore fortuitous that the North African country was designated in 2004 as a “major non-NATO ally of the United States” and became member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership
(TSCTP), a US program aimed at defeating terrorists by strengthening the capacity of regional governments while enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation between their security forces. And the Kingdom’s recent contribution to restore peace and stability in Mali evidences the key role it can play in preserving the overall regional security and stability as it can give the right advice and help move in the right direction.
Therefore, security in the MENA region and in the Sahel has surely been among the issues discussed at the talks King Mohammed VI held with Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Washington on Wednesday.
No specific details were given on the contents of these talks, but a statement from the King’s Office said the meeting “focused on strengthening the longstanding relations and fruitful cooperation between the two countries,” and provided opportunity for “consultation on various bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest.”
Security in the region which is facing an unprecedented political instability with political uncertainties in Algeria, insecurity in Libya, difficult transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, and the terrorist threat in the Sahel-Sahara will be among the issues to be debated at the summit meeting between President Obama and King Mohammed VI.
President Obama should therefore build on the fruitful military and security cooperation between the two nations as well as on Morocco’s leading role as a promoter of moderation and tolerance to fight the spread of extremism in Africa, in Europe and even in the United States.
“Morocco’s changing geo-economic role in Africa holds the potential to support U.S. interests in African development and security, and opens an important new avenue for bilateral and trilateral cooperation with the United States and EU partners,” argues Peter Pham, who adds that Morocco’s growing role in Africa opens new paths for U.S.-Moroccan cooperation, from commercial joint ventures to work on regional development corridors.
Meanwhile, Forbes magazine pointed out that the US administration should seize the opportunity of the “historic” visit of King Mohammed VI “a key ally in the War on Terror and a bold reformer” to Washington as “a rare chance to reset America’s foreign policy.”

Article Categories:
Africa · Americas · GLOBAL EUROPE

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