Israel-U.S.-Morocco Quid Pro Quo: Morocco Normalizes With Israel, U.S. Recognizes Western Sahara Annexation
In Donald Trump’s final month in office, he’s handed Bibi Netanyahu yet another gift while further restricting Pres.-elect Biden’s Middle East policy options. Today, Morocco announced it would normalize relations with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab state to do so. But the price was steep: it demanded that the U.S. recognize Morocco’s conquest of the Western Sahara, a territory claimed by its indigenous inhabitants and their national movement, the Polisario Liberation Front. The Polisario have been fighting for independence for decades, since Spain retreated from its colony, and Morocco replaced it as the ruling colonial power.
No international body has recognized Moroccan claims to the territory. In the same way that virtually no country or global body has recognized Israeli claims to Palestine–except Donald Trump. Previous U.S. governments have been in accord with this consensus and also withheld recognition. But Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy and recognized Israeli sovereignty over Palestine, the Golan and Jerusalem. In effect, pre-empting any potential recognition of a Palestinian state by a future U.S. government and effectively rendering the two-state option moot.
The Trump administration announced a planned sale of $1-billion worth of U.S. drones and precision guided missiles to Morocco This sweetens the deal for a president who sees personal and political interests in purely mercenary terms. Presumably, these will be excellent means for Moroccan intelligence and military to surveil their Polisario adversaries and kill them if necessary.
Moroccan normalization mirrored the same process followed regarding Sudan. It too desperately sought a carrot only the U.S. could provide: its previous Islamist government had sheltered Osama bin Laden and provided safe haven for other Islamist terrorists. In response, the federal government added Sudan to its international terrorist list. It also permitted numerous lawsuits against the country’s government by survivors of various terror attacks to which the former government was allegedly linked. This effectively shut off any potential U.S. aid or commercial contacts. This black list also deprived Sudan of legitimacy and isolated it internationally.
After the overthrow of dictator Omar Bashir, the new government faces enormous economic difficulty and dire poverty. Yet it can do nothing without the lifting of the terror designation. Trump promised Sudan that if it recognized Israel, he would see to it that Sudan was removed from the Treasury Department list. He also promised that in return for a $335-million payment, the U.S. would render Sudan exempt from current and future suits. One element necessary to do this is Congressional approval. Such a measure has been proposed in the House, but not yet approved. Sudan is refusing to carry through with its commitment unless the U.S. honors its end of the deal.
There remains tremendous opposition within the civilian-military transitional government to normalization. The majority of Sudanese remain deeply sympathetic to the Palestinians and hostile to Israel. However, the military is reliant on the UAE for funding. It too has normalized with Israel and is pressuring the Sudanese general leading the transition to do so. However, the civilian elements in the governing coalition remain skeptical. Even after normalization was announced by the government, others expressed their opposition. The eventual outcome is by no means certain.
Similarly, media reports indicate that Saudi Arabia is exerting maximum pressure on Pakistan to recognize Israel as well. The Saudis seek to expand their anti-Iran alliance outside of the Gulf by enlisting Pakistan, whose perennially penurious government and populace relies heavily on Saudi financial largesse. Pakistan in turn was chagrined when the Saudis did little to support their allies in Kashmir when the Hindu nationalist Indian government annexed the Muslim-majority states. The purported deal would offer both elites something that serves their interest.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of Pakistanis vehemently oppose Israel and support the Palestinians, the Pakistani military-intelligence apparatus is preparing the public for such an eventuality.
As I wrote here after the earlier series of normalization announcements, these deals are exceedingly weak because they are transactional in nature, rather than based on legal principles or moral values. Even Trump’s much-ballyhooed “gimmes” to Netanyahu were not based on any guiding policy or strategy. Trump could care less about Israel and its interests. But he did realize that cozying up to Israel is one of the keys to the evangelical vote. So his entire “act” declaring himself the best friend Israel ever had in the White House is a charade. One that will do enormous damage to U.S. long-term interests in the region.
Even if removing Sudan from the terror list is justified, demanding that the country do something most of its citizens oppose in order to achieve this outcome, guarantees political instability at home. Leaders who recognize Israel will be vilified for it. But Netanyahu and Trump could care less. Because they have no long-term strategic vision. They act for short-term personal political gain.
The list of shattered relations between allies who eventually betrayed each other when tables turned is long: Israel aided in the establishment of both Hamas and Hezbollah to act as checks on the power of Arafat’s Fatah; the U.S. readily supplied weapons to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in their effort to dislodge the Russians; Hitler forged the Molotov Pact with Stalin only to turn on his a year or so later and invade Russia; at one time both the Irgun and Yishuv leadership separately entered into negotiations with the Nazis at a time when they believed it could advance their own political interests.
In other words, while Israel and media pundits may herald these normalization agreements, they’re built on sand. On convenient alliances against mutual enemies like Iran. But enemies turn into allies and vice versa at the drop of a hat. Especially in the Middle East.
Israel’s Sordid Secrets Regarding Morocco
Ronen Bergman profiled Israel’s long-time covert relations with Morocco. Again, Israeli intelligence and the Moroccan monarchy used each other in seeking advantage over their respective enemies. In doing so, both Israel and Morocco betrayed their own allies. It’s a deeply cynical game which Israel plays to the hilt.
In one particularly gruesome case over which Bergman glides with little elaboration, the Mossad cultivated Moroccan anti-colonialist leader, Mehdi Ben Barka. It approached him and offered assistance in overthrowing King Hassan. Once he slipped into the spy agency’s net, it informed Hassan that Ben Barka was plotting against him. Moroccan intelligence and the Mossad then collaborated in luring him from Switzerland and to Paris with the ruse of participating in a major film documentary. There an apartment was waiting which the Israelis had rented. In it, Ben Barka was tortured and eventually murdered by Moroccan agents.
After the fact, the Mossad claimed it had no knowledge the intent was to murder Ben Barka. It said it only participated in the kidnapping, but not the murder that followed. But this is undermined by Mossad’s disposal of his body in a forest. Though Bergman claims the body was never found that does not discount the enormity of the crime.
In 2000, Paris Match interviewed one of the victim’s captors who revealed that the body was buried in a forest which the French government eventually deeded to the Moroccan government, over which built an enormous mosque. The shrine’s car park now covers the grave under many feet of concrete. Another account by one of the principal conspirators says the body was flown back to Morocco and dissolved in acid (the same fate as that of Jamal Khashoggi, murdered in similar fashion by a band of Saudi thugs working under the direction of that country’s Crown Prince). Writing earlier in the Times, Bergman claims that the body was buried in the Bois du Boulogne, under what is now the access road to the Louis Vuitton museum. Each of these is particularly grisly and perversely ironic for different reasons.
17 thoughts on “Israel-U.S.-Morocco Quid Pro Quo: Morocco Normalizes With Israel, U.S. Recognizes Western Sahara Annexation – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Very interesting take. The Mossad also helped protect the former Moroccan King from a coup.
Israel was complicit in the 55 year old kidnap/murder of a Moroccan dissiden, and in exchange for it’s assistance, the King of Morocco allowed Morocco’s Jewish community to flee the anti-Semitism in Morocco and migrate to Israel.
“The worst insult that a Moroccan could possibly offer was to treat someone as a Jew….My childhood friends have remained anti-Jewish. They hide their virulent anti-Semitism by contending that the State of Israel was the creature of Western imperialism….A whole Hitlerite myth is being cultivated among the populace. The massacres of the Jews by Hitler are exalted ecstatically. It is even credited that Hitler is not dead, but alive and well, and his arrival is awaited to deliver the Arabs from Israe– Said Ghallab, “Les Juifs sont en enfer,” in Les Temps Modernes, (April 1965), pp. 2247-2251.
Richard. You said that:
” In doing so, both Israel and Morocco betrayed their own allies”.
I understand Morocco’s betrayal, but which of Israel’s allies did Israel betray?
I must have missed something.
@ Sepp: The list of allies Israel has abandoned or betrayed is long:
Lebanese Phalangists and South Lebanese army
Iran after the Shah was overthrown (except of course when it supplied missiles to Iran as part of the Iran-Contra scandal)
Ben Barka, who they played like a violin, making him think Israel would be his ally, and then betraying him to his killers
Al Nusra /Al Qaeda (whom Israel abandoned once Assad turned the tide against Syrian Islamists)
Turkey, a former ally whom Israel betrayed when it murdered 10 of its citizens on the Mavi Marmara, for which it paid reparations
Iread, I think on ynet, that the Arab league had previously recognized the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.
The Arab League simply supports “Moroccan territorial integrity”, without further specification
According to the latest Arab Poll Index 2019/2020, only 4% of Moroccans support diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel by their country. In Sudan, it’s 13%, the higest support together with Saudi Arabia. In Algeria that fought a long and bloody war of liberation against French occupation the support is 0%, Polisario is having their head-quarters in Tindouf, Algeria.
Either Bahraini nor Emirati were among the 30.000 polled across Arab countries. Overall, around 6% support diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel by their country, more than 80% oppose (79% in Sudan, 88% in Morocco).
And if you look at the reasons overall, around 6% give religious reasons, the occupation of Palestinian land and the treatment of Palestinians is the number one reason.
The poll in itself is worth an article.
@ Deir Yassin: I think I wrote about the poll you’re referencing. See this: https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2020/10/19/opposition-to-normalization-sweeps-arab-world/
If this is a different poll, could you get me the link to one you mentioned?
That’s simply BS ! Ben Barka was kidnapped and killed in 1965, the Moroccan Jewish community that left for the State of Israel did so primarily in the early 1950’s, in fact they were more or less bought by Zionist agencies who transferred money to the inner circles around the king, and they were settled on the ‘frontier’ as some kind of buffer between the Ashkenazi Establishment and the native Palestinians, particularly close the Gaza Strip.
I thought you were pro One-State solution. Why is it only good for Israel but not Maroco?
@ Ariel: So by your logic if a nation wants to absorb the territory of a neighbor it’s cool with you? Or is it just cool if Israel and Israel’s pals do it? Because Hitler tried to do the same thing. Wuold it be OK for him to annex Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc.?
You apparently need a tutorial in how representative democracy works: Palestinians want sovereignty either in their own state or within a new state of Israel-Palestine. Since Israel has refused every opportunity to recognize and permit such a separate state, the only other option for Palestinians to obtain these rights is through a single state. There simply is no other option.
The people of Western Sahara too want sovereignty. But they do not want to be annexed to Morocco. They want a separate state of their own.
So even a hasbarist like you, I think, can see that the two scenarios are entirely different.
Trump admin offered $700M to 9/11 victims to save Sudan deal
Yes, that’s the poll, I’m sorry I missed that part of the article.
The whole poll is really interesting, not only on Israel-Palestine but also on democracy etc.
And I made a mistake in my comment, the 13% supporting diplomatic recognition of Israel alongside the Sudan is not Saudi Arabia but Egypt. What’s interesting is that in Saudi Arabia, 29% do not want to answer whether they support or oppose, a figure much much than in any other country polled, tells us maybe that many people are afraid to speak their mind even in a poll.
@ Deir Yassin: Indeed. If you had a headchopper for a Crown Prince you’d think twice about answering such a poll. After all, Saudi intelligence could send around fake pollsters to ferret about dissidents and malcontents.
“That’s simply BS!”
Quoted, as per Richard’s link:
“Israeli agents met with the Moroccan opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, who asked for help overthrowing the king; instead, the Israelis told Hassan of the plot.
The king permitted mass emigration of Jews and allowed Mossad to establish a station in Morocco.”
Oui. A sizeable number of Jews remained in Morocco in 1965, and King Hassan allowed them to migrate, even after the 1967 War.
“@ Sepp: The list of allies Israel has abandoned or betrayed is long: ”
Richard. You wrote Israel ‘betrayed’, but than you added ‘abandoned’, to make up for paucity of evidence.
Israel quit South Lebanon, taking a few SLA militiamen in tow. Nothing happened to the SLA once the Lebanese government re-occupied her Southland. As far as I know, the are still Phalangists in Lebanon’s ‘government.
Israel’s ally, the Shah, was dethroned by a popular revolution and he took refuge in the West. Israel neither betrayed or abandoned Iran, or the Shah. France was a far greater supporter of the Shah than Israel was.
Israel didn’t betray Turkey. Turkey encouraged a Turkish pro-Palestine movement to arm and hijack the Turkish registered flotilla boat that carried them to Gaza. Israel successfully turned away the flotilla, save for the mutinous boat. Israel botched that interdiction and ten Turks were shot after an Israeli commando was kidnapped and stabbed by the Turks.
Al Nusra was provided humanitarian aide only. A single, Assadist Syrian general, claims without proof, that Israel gave al Nusra supporting artillery fire one time.
Al Nusra was defeated in the field and left the region after making a deal with the Syrian Army.
Al Nusra was neither supported, abandoned or betrayed by Israel.
@ Sepp: Before I respond, your last comment was your final one in this comment thread. Do not publish another in this thread.
As for your account of the assassination of Ben Barka, this version is the one approved by Mossad for circulation. It presents Ben Barka as an insurenctionist and Mossad as being approached by him. Given that Ben Barka was an international hero of the anti-colonialist movement, it’s preposterous that he would have approached Israel’s Mossad. I discount this version out of hand as self-serving at best.
There were 250,000 Jews in Morocco in the 1940s. There are 2,250 now.
Only someone who is an apologist for a country which betrays and abandons its former allies would claim there is a distinction between the 2 words. Do you think the South Lebanese Army felt is was abandoned, but not betrayed when the IDF turned tail and retreated from its occupation?
Not quite, Israel accepted 6,500 Lebanese fighters after it withdrew. That’s far more than a few. The reason there was no bloodbath in Lebanon after the SLA disbanded was that few of the fighters were left. Had Israel not accepted them, there would have been. But the fundamental truth is that Israel exploited the SLA for decades then discarded it when it was no longer useful and Israeli policy. Yes, it took them in, but only to avoid the repurcussions of a mass bloodbath.
As for Iran, Israel was an ally of Iran under the shah. It turned against Iran when Ayatollah Khomeini assumed control because it only likes western-supported strongmen like him. So yes, it abandoned Iran after its stooge left. BTW, Israel retains control of a $1-billion oil pipeline it expropriated from Iran. That’s theft. So abandoning Iran offered a rich haul to Israel.
As for Turkey, Israel had a strong alliance with Turkey including military cooperation. When Israel murdered 10 Turkish citizens it destroyed that alliance. That is a betrayal.
Your characterization of al Nusra is woefully wrong. Israel supplied them with munitions, supplies and humanitarian aid. It also housed families of fighters in camps in the occupied Golan. These things are documented by many media accounts, not a single Syrian general as you claim. Do a Google search in this blog before mouthing such nonsense again. Israel supported and abandoned al Nusra when it was no longer of any use to it.
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