Home Op-Eds Washington: Morocco Missing an Opportunity in the Trump Administration

Washington: Morocco Missing an Opportunity in the Trump Administration

Secretary Tillerson Meets Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita - Top Stories - U.S. Department of State
Photo: U.S. Department of State

Washington D.C. – It looks as if Morocco cannot find its bearing in today’s Washington. While the stories about the Kingdom’s gifts to the Clinton Foundation have left a certain image of a Morocco taking sides in the last presidential election. However, the business nature of the Trump administration leaves the door open to a remake of this diplomatic relationship. For that, a reexamination of Morocco’s government and public relations strategies in Washington is overdue.

In fact, an agile Moroccan diplomacy and a “relevant” lobbying firm can easily overcome this small hiccup in an otherwise solid bilateral relationship between the two allies. Despite Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on African nations and his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, he remains the President of the most influential nation in the world and his government’s positions on matters that Rabat view as crucial stay relevant and significant.

Since there is no one dominant issue that controls President Trump’s foreign policy, Rabat has several tools at its disposal to refocus the Moroccan-American relations on common issues that are still important to the Trump team.

One of the greatest concerns that is shared between the two nations and fits within the Trump admiration’s “America first” slogan is fighting terrorism. The October 2017 attack in Niger that killed 4 American servicemen and has made big news in the United States is one example of an opening that Moroccan officials could utilize to directly access Trump’s White House by passing the State Department.

Currently the U.S. is in dire need of intelligence sources and competent friendly military units who can accompany U.S. special forces during anti-terrorism operations in the great Sahel region.

With the decline of Algeria’s diplomatic and intelligence presence in Mali, Morocco, with its considerable economic and political influence in Africa can fill this void and give the U.S. a leg up in the fight against the Islamic State in the Sahel. Morocco’s successful policy in Africa could make the Kingdom a key component to future strategies of an American administration looking to score victories against terrorism and that enjoy immediate glorification.

Fighting terrorism is only one of the tools in Morocco’s arsenal of assets to get the attention of the Trump team. Now, it is on the Moroccan diplomats and other officials to rebrand the Kingdom’s presence in Washington and sell their “products”. The rewards could be big.

If Rabat succeeds in winning over the blessing of the current administration, Washington could fully endorse Morocco’s local autonomy plan for the Western Sahara. In fact, President Trump could easily recognize the full integration of the Saharan territory into the Kingdom making it an official American positon that would be hard to reverse later.

Since the Moroccan officials’ inability to appreciate the fact that lobbying is not the only way to advance an agenda persists as the biggest hurdle for their diplomacy in Washington, it is time for a new approach as the Kingdom tries to regain its balance in Washington.

In fact, the unpredictability of the current American administration presents an opportunity for the Moroccan diplomats to advance their interests. It is up to them to grab it and use it while it lasts.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity. 

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