Washington D.C - Morocco’s new ambassador, Lalla Joumala Alaoui, lands in Washington at a critical time for the Moroccan diplomacy, especially in light of Rabat’s recent setbacks in Brussels and the U.S. Administration's lack of clear support to Morocco's position on the “Western Sahara.”
Washington D.C – Morocco’s new ambassador, Lalla Joumala Alaoui, lands in Washington at a critical time for the Moroccan diplomacy, especially in light of Rabat’s recent setbacks in Brussels and the U.S. Administration’s lack of clear support to Morocco’s position on the “Western Sahara.”
Since Morocco’s new chief diplomat in Washington happens to also be a Princess and a cousin of Morocco’s current King Mohammed VI, Rabat could be predisposed to emphasize “the family ties” rather than working the halls of Congress and engaging the American civil society when advocating for the Kingdom.
Nonetheless, a candid presentation of Morocco’s successes, mistakes and challenges will assist Ambassador Lalla Joumala stay informed on what is being said about her country and help her respond effectively to criticism from powerful players such as the Washington Post and New York Times editorial pages or reports form organizations like Human Rights Watch.
The significance of some of the rapidly shifting diplomatic maneuvers by Morocco’s enemies, require an even greater need for honesty and transparency in briefing the new ambassador. It is time to step away from overhyped public relations events that do little to advance the Kingdom’s interests.
Moroccan diplomats in Washington have been heavily inclined to build personal relationships with key political figures at the expense of expanding institutional bridges between the two countries’ strategic establishments. The “personal” approach creates temporary diplomatic victories that fail to withstand the rigors of political and legal scrutiny of the American system of government.
Previous ambassadors in Washington “flunked” their attempts to boost Morocco’s accomplishments around the world. They over-relied on lobbyists and public relation firms to do most of the diplomatic work, making some of the Kingdom’s successful campaigns to promote peace, religious harmony and conflict resolution look like staged events.
For Ambassador Lalla Joumala to succeed, she will need a frank and open briefing. Let’s hope that Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal, who is leaving Washington for Tokyo, provides the new diplomat with a true and accurate account of the state of affairs of the Moroccan American relations, especially Washington’s position on the Sahara conflict and the work of human rights organizations in the USA.
Morocco’s relations with the United States have been rightly focused on the long friendly history that bonds the two nations. However, in the age of religious extremism, terrorism, mass migration and economic development, Rabat needs to reshape and redefine the relations between the two countries from historic ties to mutual interests with equal benefits.
Lalla Joumala may have to emphasize again the importance of the stability in Morocco to the world’s fight against terrorism and religious extremism. To remain an effective military and intelligence partner, Morocco needs a sustained broad international support for its position on the Sahara.
In fact, an American implicit validation of Moroccan’s sovereignty over the Sahara will drastically change the political and security dynamics in North Africa, freeing both Rabat and Algiers to join forces to pacify Libya and stabilize Tunisia.
Given the new Ambassadors proximity to the Moroccan Monarch, the Princess may be able to develop a blended diplomatic-intelligence-military diplomatic policy in Washington that will have implications far beyond Washington.
By cutting the usual red tape and avoiding the in-palace maneuverings, Lalla Joumala may in fact come up with the formula that will turn Morocco’s diplomatic efforts in solving conflicts around the world into solid gains in the Sahara conflict.
America needs to maintain diverse and coherent alliances around the globe to be able to defend its national security. The challenge for the new Ambassador would be to highlight her country’s role in this alliance and Morocco’s expectations in terms of advancing the Kingdom’s own interests around the world including an international the recognition of the Moroccan Sahara. These challenges highlight the need for a novel approach that brings new ideas that will eventually exhibit all the elements of a more comprehensive Moroccan diplomatic strategy in Washington.
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