Morocco to Normalize Ties with Israel; Trump Recognizes Rabat’s Occupation of the Western Sahara

In yet another imperialist move by the United States, Israel and Morocco will normalize ties between them, President Donald Trump announced on Thursday, December 10. The price: the American administration will recognize the North African kingdom’s occupation of the disputed Western Sahara and will sell the North African kingdom four advanced aerial drones.

The timing of the announcement about the US drone sale to Morocco, only hours after Rabat announced its intention to normalize relations with Israel, is conspicuously similar to that of the $23 billion US arms sale to the United Arab Emirates. French media reported that Morocco purchased three drones from Israel for $48 million last January via French mediation.

“Sahara Libre”: A demonstration in Madrid for the independence of occupied Western Sahara (Photo: Mundo Obrero)

Morocco thus becomes the fourth Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel in four months, following the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. “Today, I signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!” Trump tweeted.

The White House, not far-right Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, informed Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz of the developments with Morocco several weeks before they were made public, contrary to the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan deals in which they were told at the last minute. In February, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu had lobbied the United States to recognize “Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara” in exchange for Rabat taking steps to normalize ties with Israel.

According to Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List), “The agreement between Israel and Morocco announced by President Trump at the very last moment of his term, is a cynical and despicable deal worthy of all condemnation. It is an alliance between Israeli oppression on the occupied West Bank and Moroccan oppression in the occupied Western Sahara, a criminal handshake between two oppressors.” “This agreement has nothing to do with peace. We are opposed to all occupation and oppression, anywhere on the world,” Cassif said.

Morocco has had a long-term relationship with Israeli intelligence agencies. Moroccan King Hassan II gave Israel recordings of an Arab League meeting that helped Israel prepare for the Six Day War in 1967, according to former Israel military intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit and the former intelligence officer and cabinet minister Rafi Eitan. That same year, the Mossad helped Morocco abduct an opposition political leader from France: Mehdi Ben Barka, head of the National Union of Popular Forces (UNPF), secretary of the Tricontinental – Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America, based in La Habana, and opponent of French imperialism and Moroccan King Hassan II, “disappeared” in Paris in 1965.

The Polisario Front, an independence movement from occupied Western Sahara, said it “regrets highly” Trump’s decision but will continue its struggle. Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony was occupied by Morocco in 1975 and has significant offshore oil reserves and mineral resources. Its indigenous population has fiercely rejected Moroccan control, however, and between 1975 and 1991, the Polisario Front fought an insurgency against Rabat’s presence. Polisario has repeatedly accused Morocco of exploiting the region’s natural resources while half of its population awaits a referendum in refugee camps and in exile. “The Polisario and Sahrawi government condemn in the strongest terms the fact that outgoing American President Donald Trump attributes to Morocco something which does not belong” to the country, said the Sahrawi information ministry

Morocco’s Royal Court said the US would open a consulate in the Western Sahara. Last month, Bahrain, which normalized ties with Israel in September, also said it was opening a consulate in the territory.

The United Nations said Thursday, December 10, its position was “unchanged” on the disputed Western Sahara region after the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty there. UN Secretary-General António Guterres believes “the solution to the question can still be found based on Security Council resolutions,” his spokesperson said.

The UN deploys a peacekeeping mission to the region to monitor a ceasefire and supposedly to organize a referendum on the territory’s status. The vote was set for 1992 but was aborted when Morocco objected to the proposed electoral register. It then refused to accept any vote in which independence was an option, and said “only autonomy was on the table.”