The US’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara puts immense pressure on France to follow suit, argued Moroccan political analyst Samir Bennis.
According to the foreign policy expert, France needs to officially recognize Morocco’s territorial integrity, or else it might lose its position as a privileged partner of Morocco in favor of the US.
Bennis made the statement during the sixth Morocco Day event, held online on January 18, in response to a question about the future of Morocco-France relations, in light of the American support of Morocco in Western Sahara.
“France should be worried about its interests in the region because, with the US’ recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara, Morocco is in a better and stronger position than ever before,” Bennis said.
“France used to draw the Sahara card in order to pressure Morocco into striking this deal or that, but, with the US’ recognition, France will be overtaken by the US,” he continued.
Bennis argued that the time when France used to monopolize investment deals in Morocco is over. In the future, he predicted, Morocco will not have to exclusively rely on France to attract foreign investments.
“Morocco is a sovereign state and it has proven that over and over again over the past few years,” the expert said, stressing that Morocco’s position on the global stage has become significantly stronger over the past decade.
“It is important for France to take bold and clear action and to show resolute and clear support for Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara,” Bennis declared.
“It is not enough for France, nor Spain, which both share historical responsibility in the conflict, to say that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan can be the basis of a political solution. They have to follow in the footsteps of the US and say that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan is the only basis of the political solution.”
The political analyst believes that France’s decision about Western Sahara will shape the future of its bilateral partnerships with Morocco: “The ball now is in France’s court.”
Unless France officially recognizes Morocco’s territorial integrity, Morocco will focus on forging partnerships with other countries, notably the US and the UK, Bennis predicted.
“I think there is a trend in Morocco to open up more to the US and other countries, because Morocco does not want to be dependent on one or two countries. It wants to diversify because when you diversify you are on a stronger footing than when you depend on one or two countries,” he said.
“It is in the best interest of France to hurry and show willingness to support Morocco in a bold and unambiguous way. Otherwise, it will be overtaken by the US, and maybe the UK as well,” he emphasized.