Morocco severed ties with Iran in May 2018 due to its alleged links with the Polisario Front, a breakaway group seeking independence in Western Sahara.
Rabat – Trump’s administration is allegedly poised to use its bonds with allies in the MENA region to counter Iran.
The move is believed to be part of a “larger American and Middle East alliance led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia,” according to the Hill.
The news outlet also refers to rumors and reports about the alleged intention of the US to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara at the request of Israel, in order to serve Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Middle East agenda.
The move is also motivated by the perceived lack of support from African and Arab countries for the US-brokered Middle East Plan, known as the “deal of the century.”
The US media outlet quoted Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who claimed that the US plan to secure support of Morocco and Sudan against Tehran “has to be seen as part of an overall effort on the part of Saudi Arabia to draw closer to the Israelis.”
Schanzer added: “These are two countries that are not insignificant in the Arab League that could begin to undermine the statement … contesting Trump’s deal of the century.”
The analyst refers to Morocco’s traditional support for the Palestinian cause, indicating that Morocco will not accept a deal if it is not a two-state solution that respects the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Morocco’s first statement in response to Trump’s deal of century was slightly at odds with Morocco’s traditional approach, making it easy for Israeli media to further Netanyahu’s agenda of rapprochement by speculating that Morocco had experienced a change of heart on the conflict.
The official statement from Morocco affirmed that the government will continue to support the Palestinian cause, while acknowledging Trump’s efforts to end the conflict. The statement also remarked that Morocco’s policy on Palestine and the US-led peace plan share some points of common ground
Just a few days after Trump’s speech to unveil the plan, US media outlet Axios published a report in which, it claimed that the US and Israel have been discussing a deal involving Morocco. The alleged proposal would trade US support for Morocco’s position on Western Sahara for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel.
Bloomberg published an article within a few days of the Axios report quoting anonymous Moroccan officials who allegedly said that Israel had urged the US to open a general consulate in Morocco’s southern city of Laayoune in Wesern Sahara, in return for Morocco diplomatically cozying up to Israel.
While it is still not clear whether Morocco discussed the negotiation with the US, the country has openly renewed its support for the Palestinian cause.
One statement from the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, however, stirred anger amongst Moroccan MPs, especially from the party the Justice and Development Party (PJD).
Bourita reminded MPs that the primary concern of Morocco’s diplomatic arsenal is Western Sahara and not Palestine. The comment further fueled rumors that Morocco was considering the alleged Israel-US deal.
“We must not be Palestinians more than Palestinians themselves,” Bourita said, emphasizing that it is up to the Palestinian Authority to reject or accept the plan.
The reports coming from both Israeli and US based outlets are repeating the same rumors based on flimsy evidence and anonymous sources, prompting speculation that the much-talked-of potential rapprochement between Morocco and Israel is part of Netanyahu’s electoral agenda.
The Israeli prime minister hopes that, through appearing to be making diplomatic headway with Arab countries, particularly those who are staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause, he can persuade voters that he is the only option for the future of Israel.
Morocco does not have any diplomatic ties with Iran, having taken the political decision to sever relations with the country in May 2018s.
The North African country accused Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, of training, financing, and supporting the Polisario Front, a breakaway group seeking independence in Western Sahara.
While Iran denied relations with the Polisario Front, Morocco’s government maintained that it had strong evidence including photos of Hezbollah military personnel with members of the Polisario Front.
Moroccan-Iranian diplomatic relations had already started to cool off before the Hezbollah-Polisario connection due to the decision of the North African country to arrest Lebanese Hezbollah financier Kassim Tajideen in Casablanca in 2017.
Morocco’s FM affirmed in an interview that the relations between the two countries changed after the arrest of the top Hezbollah financier.
He said that Tajideen was laundering money in Africa, with Iran planning to expand its power in North and West Africa.