by Irina Tsukerman and Anis El Okbani
The influence of the lobbyists’ ball is worth considering. The latest posturing of some lobbyists losing credibility in circles of influence in America and as relayed by reputable press close to Moroccan security circles, is proof of this.
What is it about ?
An unprecedented affair in American-Moroccan relations: the OCP has just been declared “persona non grata” in the United States and ordered to cease its activities on the national territory. The reason declared relates to non-compliance with the law on commercial competition. The OCP would have taken advantage of an unfair competitive position.
According to our sources, this is just a tip of the iceberg!
The OCP affair would have taken a different turn if the Kingdom had approached the groups now in leading in business instead of showing off contacts with its old friends from the Clinton clan.
If one may recall, OCP has come to be associated with the corruption scandal around one Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and phosphates. At the time, the US media, prompted by the usual coterie of “human rights activists”, was far more outraged at the political implications of support for the Sahara issue than by the blatant corruption of a particular Democratic official. The Trump administration may have overlooked the phosophate “diplomacy” had OCP in equal measure invested into relationships in the Republican circles, or at least, had diversified its portfolio through a variety of business contacts. Instead, continued alliances with the contacts vying for power and supporting Joe Biden in the upcoming elections was tone deaf in the current political climate.
To this effect, and to add insult to injury, it should be noted that a handful of petitioners, including unfortunately parallel organizations of the Islamist Party PJD, chaired by the head of the Moroccan government Saaddine El Otmani, believed themselves authorized to intervene in an agenda of the son-in-law and adviser. by Donald Trump, President of the USA.
According to our sources, the terms of the said petition came close to the penalized act of anti-Semitism. Which is likely to scratch the gratifying image of Moroccan Judaism and that of a kingdom that protects its fellow Jews. King Mohamed VI is the Commander of the Faitfhul, of all believers, including Jews.
The impact of this petition, widely reported by the press close to Moroccan official circles, on support for the Sahara issue is unpredictable.
And that’s not counting the bizarre development concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite boasting of the appointment of a Moroccan scientist on the US vaccine development team by President Trump, the crack team of Moroccan diplomats reached out to China and Russia to conclude cooperation agreements regarding the development of the vaccine for the public in Morocco. It’s as if the Moroccan foreign policy efforts are centered around alienating the United States and rejecting every security and foreign policy priority of the current administration by openly reaching out to its adversaries, and ignoring the potential for joint cooperation with the US. While maintaining an independent political position is important for the sovereignty of any country, including Morocco, and while engaging in high level diplomacy with Beijing is normal and to be expected, it does raise a question concerning the interests on the Moroccan sides pushing certain interests to the top of the foreign policy agenda at the expense of others.
Who and why is making recommendations which can and likely will further alienate the United States in light of the above mentioned developments? Given that the China was accused of trying to steal US intellectual property concerning the development of that very vaccine after cynically rejecting the framework for international cooperation on information sharing regarding the pandemic, this move will hardly win Rabat any friends in Washington, aside, perhaps, Joe Biden’s team. One wonders whether there is any connection between major entities such as OCP spending all their time with the political interests deeply invested in keeping the relationship with China at the expense of US security thanks to personal interests and desire to counter the current administration and this move.
One further wonders whether any of the aforementioned diplomats have taken a bird’s eye view on the trajectory of US-Morocco relationship since the “Hillary Phosphategate”. To any outsider, these moves over the past few years would appear at best superficial, at worst blatant moves to buy short term influence on specific issues, while ignoring and failing to the invest in the strategic depth possible in the desirable in the context of the long history of good relations between the countries, and showing little regard nor interest in pushing for this depth in a consistent and thoughtful way.
No one likes being or feeling used, and that includes the current administration, which has increased the level of high-level contacts with Morocco significantly since its early days only to see anti-Semitic pushback from governing ISlamist circles and ill-advised moves in a show of blatant support of the agenda favoring its political opponents.
Behind the scenes of the centers of American power, whispers circulate about Moroccan strategy and its consequences, when Donald Trump’s mandate will be renewed in November.
Case to be continued …