By Ryan McAllister
By Ryan McAllister
Morocco World News
Rabat, October 26, 2012
Monday night’s third and final debate in the American presidential campaign featured Mitt Romney and Barack Obama discussing American foreign policy. Most obvious was the lack of clear-cut differences between the candidates on most issues. This comes in spite of the sometimes heated rhetoric of the campaign in which Romney has sought to portray the president as weak internationally and the president has attempted to tie Romney to the policies of George W. Bush.
In an election that has focused on domestic issues related to the economy, issues of foreign policy have taken a back seat. On most of the issues addressed in the debate (including hot-button issues like Afghanistan and Iran), the candidates had remarkably similar views. Though Morocco was not specifically mentioned, it is no exception in this regard. On the important issues of security, development, and reform, there is likely to be little difference between the current administration and a potential Romney presidency.
In recent months, Washington has praised Moroccan efforts at promoting regional security. On issues ranging from the instability in northern Mali to the violence in Syria, Morocco has been a dependable ally. In February, Morocco sponsored a draft resolution before the UN Security Council calling on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to step down. The Moroccan-American strategic dialogue in the wake of anti-American protests in the region reinforced Morocco’s role as a force for peace and stability. Though there were protests in Morocco following the anti-Islam internet video, they were muted compared with others in the region. An increased security presence in the capital, Rabat, ensured that the situation remained calm. Morocco’s continued support for stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa will be welcome no matter who occupies the White House.
Similarly, Morocco’s proactive response to demands for political reform drew recent praise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Such support will likely continue regardless of who is elected. As the region continues to deal with the effects of revolutioin and repression, Morocco represents a model for countries in the region that are hoping to balance their citizens’ demands for greater political and economic rights with desires for stability and security.
Lastly, while the current US administration (like the previous one) is generally favorable toward the Moroccan proposal regarding Western Sahara, it seems hesitant to become directly involved in the issue by choosing a side. This is possibly to avoid upsetting Algeria, a partner in regional anti-terror issues and a source of oil imports. Still, the unresolved status of the Sahara is a destabilizing force in the region and should be addressed. In any case, the American position on the status of Western Sahara is unlikely to change overnight.
So, the relationship between America and Morocco probably won’t change drastically no matter who wins the American presidential election. Morocco will be looked at as a force for stability and moderation in a region undergoing tumultuous change and combating extremism. As Morocco continues to chart a course that favors economic growth, political stability, and regional security, it is likely to find a willing partner in the United States.
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