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Addressing obstacles to normalization: A signal from Mohammed VI’s Morocco

Among Arab countries, Morocco has been a pioneer in the process of peace and rapprochement with Israel.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Irina Tsukerman and Anis El Okbani

Despite pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood, which runs the Moroccan government, and their connections with those who run Qatar and Turkey—in tacit agreement with the terrorists who are in power in Iran—the kingdom of Morocco has a king, a history, achievements and assets that cannot be blackmailed by Islamist extremists.

The agreement to normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel, signed on Sept. 15 at the White House under the aegis of U.S. President Donald Trump, could encourage other Arab countries to follow suit.

Before the Abraham Accords, Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab countries to sign peace treaties with Israel, in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

King Hassan II, father of Mohamed VI, his successor in Morocco, was the secret architect of this process and of rapprochement with Israel. In addition to his attachment to his origins, his families, his cemeteries, his saints and all that pertains to human rights, including that of going directly to his native country without going through Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain or another destination, this community remains to this day mobilized to defend the territorial integrity of Morocco, and in particular, the Sahara, object of contestation by Algeria and its secessionist acolyte, the Polisario Front.

Morocco has another advantage and an influential asset in the United States: The Jewish community of Moroccan origin is the largest in the world.

Given all of this, Morocco is faced with a moral and human-rights dilemma vis-à-vis its fellow Jews and the object of a political controversy over the Sahara affair. The Jewish people are the people of memory. They venerate Mohamed V—the grandfather of Mohamed VI—and Hassan II, his father, for their known courage and historical position.

Decades of disinformation, media campaigns and poor education, however, have taken their toll on the public, and this view of the political situation will be difficult to undo.

Saudi Arabia is facing a similar issue.

That said, by taking away the object of blackmail from the extortionists both countries may ultimately find themselves in stronger positions vis-à-vis their attackers, and take away the accusations of bad faith and bigotry from the attackers on all sides of the political aisle.

It’s also about time to show these movements, countries and the media who is really in charge—particularly of the foreign policy that these external forces have been seeking to coopt to their own advantage.

We know that normalization with the Jewish state would put the Moroccan and Saudi kingdoms—defenders of the Palestinian cause, and one that chairs the Al Quds Committee (Jerusalem) and the other shelters the first holy places of Islam—in a delicate position.

But all the experts, Trump and other friends of the two kingdoms agree that it would be in the interests of Morocco and Saudi Arabia to normalize their relations with Israel in due course. It is common knowledge that seats will be numbered according to the arrival time of the peace train. The neutrality of certain Arab countries for reasons of internal politics or worse, due to the animosity of the Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president of Turkey, or his follower, the Islamist Saad Dine Otmani, head of the Moroccan government who always seem to prevail, for the ideological reasons of the Muslim brothers, should not make Morocco lose its historical achievements and its “Jewish Card.” The pressure of the Muslim brothers who provisionally lead the kingdom must end.

In the end, normalization should not be seen as an act of desperation of the countries trying to catch up and not be led behind, but rather, as, as a realpolitik move to reassert control over the policies they wish to see in their own countries, as much as externally in the region.

The hopes of Trump and the Moroccan Jewish diaspora to see Morocco follow in the footsteps of the UAE and Bahrain are based on tangible elements. Among Arab countries, Morocco has been a pioneer in the process of peace and rapprochement with Israel.

Nevertheless, the endless stream of speculation over which country is to normalize next, coupled with pressure on the monarchs of Morocco and KSA, has not been helpful. Rather than pressuring those who are already pursuing good relations, perhaps the onus should be on the parties, movements, media and countries that are doing whatever is possible to make the process of normalization difficult and to rile up the street.

Irina Tsukerman is a human rights and national security attorney based in New York. She has written on geopolitics and U.S. foreign policy for a variety of American, Israeli and international publications. Anis El Okbani is a New-York based serial entrepreneur, geostrategist and national security specialist.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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