The new US President Joe Biden will not make any move that might harm Morocco’s interests, predicted foreign policy expert Samir Bennis.
The political analyst presented on Wednesday, January 20, a list of reasons why Biden and his new administration would work towards maintaining Morocco-US partnerships during an intervention on the evening news program of Moroccan channel Al Aoula TV.
One of the main worries of Moroccans about the new US administration, Bennis said, is whether it will cancel the proclamation signed by former President Donald Trump, according to which the US officially recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
For the foreign policy expert, such a decision is highly unlikely.
Morocco’s interests are safe
North Africa, Bennis argued, will not be a priority for Biden in the next six months because the new US administration will have to deal with other foreign policy issues that are more urgent.
Legally, it will be difficult for Biden to retract the American decision to support Morocco’s territorial integrity because “the US dealt with a sovereign state that has the recognition of the entire international community,” Bennis said.
“Practically and politically speaking, if Biden retracts the decision — and I don’t think he will — it will threaten Morocco-US relations, and we all know the value of Morocco for the US foreign policy,” he added.
Considering that the Western Sahara issue is not a priority for the US and the role that Morocco has played in assisting the US foreign policy over the past seven decades, the new American administration will not make any move that would negatively impact Morocco-US relations, the expert stressed.
The US’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara came in parallel with Morocco’s re-establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel. For Bennis, this is another main reason why the Biden administration will most likely not reverse the newfound US position on Western Sahara.
“This will push the Jewish lobby in Washington, which has been supportive of Morocco, to pressure and urge the new US administration to not harm the interests of Morocco,” he declared.
The political analyst believes that Biden is experienced enough to be aware of the balances that his administration will need to maintain in order to tackle upcoming challenges.
Morocco is a major US ally
One of the major challenges that the new US administration will face is to regain international influence and push for political solutions for regional issues, such as in Libya, Yemen, Mali, and Syria.
This will lead Biden and the US Department of State to work on building several alliances all over the world. “This is where Morocco’s role lies,” Bennis said.
He gave the example of the Libyan conflict, in which the US will attempt to become more involved in order to facilitate the UN-led political process. He predicted that Morocco and the US will collaborate closely on the issue.
“Moroccan diplomacy has proven its effectiveness and experience through building bridges between the parties of the Libyan conflict,” Bennis explained.
“Despite its absence from the Berlin conference last year and some parties’ attempt to push it away [from the Libyan file], Morocco was able to prove to the international community that it is the only party that is able to build bridges between Libyans and achieve Libyan reconciliation,” he continued.
Bennis recalled the series of meetings between rival Libyan parties, which Morocco has hosted since August 2020.
The meetings paved the way for Libyans to sign a ceasefire agreement, ultimately leading them to reach agreements on the establishment of a transitional government to supervise the upcoming national elections, scheduled for December 24, 2021.
The foreign policy expert argued that Morocco’s neutral position regarding the Libyan conflict distinguishes it from all other actors involved in the dispute.
“What distinguishes Morocco from the other regional powers involved in the Libyan issue is that Morocco does not have expansionist ambitions in Libya or an agenda to control the country,” Bennis said.
Morocco is facilitating talks between Libyans “because it wants to maintain stability in Libya, because it is important for stability in the Maghreb,” he explained.
Moroccan diplomacy also wants to avoid the rise of a political power in Libya that challenges Morocco, similarly to the regime of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Bennis added.
“Morocco will have a pivotal role in the policy that the US will adopt in Libya, as well as in some sub-Saharan African countries, notably Mali,” he reiterated.
Besides its important political role, Morocco’s economic partnership with the US will further grow under the Biden administration, the political analyst predicted.
“Economic relations between Morocco and the US will witness an unprecedented momentum,” he said.
Recalling that Morocco is the only African country to have a Free Trade Agreement with the US, Bennis stated that the agreement is yet to achieve its full potential — Morocco-US trade does not currently exceed $6 billion annually.
The US will also be able to use Morocco to penetrate the African market, the foreign policy expert said, especially after the opening of the US consulate in Dakhla, southern Morocco.
“The consulate will serve as a platform to counter the Chinese and Russian economic influences in Africa, especially since the African Continental Free Trade Area became operational,” Bennis predicted.
“Africa will have a population of two billion by 2050. Its market will be a competition ground for global powers and Morocco can help the US gain a foothold there,” he concluded.