By Majid Morceli
By Majid Morceli
San Fransisco – By rejoining the African Union (AU), Morocco’s ultimate goal is to get the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) thrown out of the same institution. Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said in an interview, “We will redouble our efforts so the small minority of countries, particularly African, which recognize it, change their positions.”
While Morocco’s plan to redouble its efforts to oust the SADR sounds logical, it is by no means the knockout punch to deliver to the Polisario and its allies. Algeria and South Africa are just as adamant about keeping the SADR a member of the AU, and they can afford to keep the conflict alive for as long as is necessary.
What Morocco needs to do is to make the presence of the Polisario in the African Union irrelevant — if not burdensome — to Africa, which can be accomplished by forming solid partnerships with as many African countries as possible. King Mohammed VI of Morocco has been working relentlessly to solidify new relationships with many countries that were recently staunch allies of the Polisario. Morocco’s efforts should remain focused on elevating partnerships with these countries in order to prevent Algeria and South Africa from regaining sympathy and support when their economy rebounds.
During the king’s trips to these countries, we have witnessed a multitude of agreements being signed, and Africans want to see these agreements come to fruition and not remain mere ink on paper. If Algeria comes back with a better offer, the leaders of these countries will not hesitate to switch sides and do what is necessary to help them benefit from the conflict between Morocco and Algeria.
Morocco has been helped tremendously by two events that have taken place in Algeria; the collapse of oil prices and the illness of the Algerian president. The drop in oil prices has prevented Algeria from showering African leaders with money. In 2013, Algeria cancelled some $902 million in debts owed by 14 members of the African Union. Due to illness, President Bouteflika has been confined to his wheelchair and can no longer travel and charm African leaders.
Morocco’s luck will eventually dissipate, and Algeria will not remain dormant while Morocco scores. As soon as Bouteflika is no longer in the picture, Algeria will want to regain its prestige in Africa — and it has the resources to recover its losses. That is why Morocco needs to have a solid long-term vision for Africa, make it a goal to establish lasting win-win relationships with African countries similar to the one between Morocco and Senegal and not focus solely on ousting the Polisario from the AU.
Today’s African leaders are different from those of the past. They are very much aware that in order to advance and make progress, they need to be forward looking and not rely on outdated doctrines professed by incompetent leaders such as Bouteflika, Robert Mugabe or Jacob Zuma.
Let’s keep in mind that several African countries that the king has visited and signed economic agreements with still recognize the SADR. They will only ditch the Polisario when they make sure that it is not in their interest to keep supporting an entity that is more of burden than a benefit and that the agreements they have signed are making a difference in their countries.
With Morocco reinforcing economic and political relationships with Africa, the Polisario will become more of a burden on Africa, and African leaders will no longer be able to afford to carry a burden created by and for Algeria.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.