Viewing cable 08RABAT512
Title: MOROCCAN RELATIONS WITH SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08RABAT5122008-06-03 12:45:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Rabat
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FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8665
INFO RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM IMMEDIATE 0384
RUEHAB/AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN 0066
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0077
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4805
RUEHRY/AMEMBASSY CONAKRY 0003
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0457
RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN 0028
RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0038
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3625
RUEHMV/AMEMBASSY MONROVIA 0557
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 1159
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 3755
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 5051
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0245
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 4123
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHDS/USMISSION ADDIS ABABA
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0820
S E C R E T RABAT 000512 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF, NEA/MAG AND AF/RSA 
DAR ES SALAAM FOR SULLIVAN SUMMIT DELEGATION 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/2028 
TAGS: PREL EAID PREF KPKO XA MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCAN RELATIONS WITH SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN 
COUNTRIES: A SURVEY 
 
REF: RABAT 0469 (NOTAL) 
 
Classified By: DCM Robert P. Jackson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
¶1.  (C) Summary:  Morocco is very much an African country. 
Its foreign policy toward Sub-Saharan African countries, like 
its worldwide foreign policy, is dominated by a single issue: 
 promoting its sovereignty over Western Sahara.  The Western 
Sahara issue, in parallel with the broader rivalry between 
Morocco and its North African neighbor, Algeria, has shaped a 
"for us or against us" perspective, resulting in strong 
bilateral relationships with countries supporting the 
Government of Morocco (GOM)'s Sahara claims and weak, or even 
antagonistic, relations with countries that support the 
POLISARIO or recognize the so-called Sahrawi Arab Democratic 
Republic (SADR).  The positive side of this classic 
carrot-and-stick diplomacy has tried to win over countries to 
the GOM cause with assistance, sometimes military, and even 
outright bribery.  Morocco also has mobilized its private 
sector entities in this effort, particularly parastatals. 
The stick side has ignored or worked against countries that 
disagree.  Morocco withdrew from the African Union (AU) in 
1984, when the AU admitted the SADR.  It engages with Africa 
multilaterally through the UN, to which Morocco contributes 
more than a thousand peacekeepers in Africa.  Beyond the 
Western Sahara issue, Morocco's Africa policy is shaped by 
the problem combating of illicit migration, in partnership 
with its European neighbors.  The Moroccan MFA is floating a 
nascent idea for a "South Atlantic Security Organization" to 
counter smuggling and trafficking between Latin American and 
West African countries.  In addition to political ties, 
Morocco has some ongoing economic links and benefits from 
significant religious and cultural ties to several African 
countries.  This survey focuses on Moroccan relations with 
Sub-Saharan Africa outside the Maghreb.  End Summary. 
 
African Identity and Commitment 
------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (U) Broadly, Morocco is strongly and publicly committed 
to its African identity, along with its Arab, Mediterranean, 
and to a lesser extent, Atlantic identities.  Historic trade 
and religious ties go back millennia.  Large numbers of 
Africans migrated to Morocco, many as slaves, and became 
integrated into both blood and culture, part of the unspoken 
and little-appreciated Moroccan mosaic.  One of the 
characteristic forms of Moroccan music, Gnawa, is of 
Sub-Saharan origin.  More recently, sporting ties such as the 
soccer African Cup of Nations, engrave that association into 
modern popular consciousness. 
 
Carrots for Morocco's Supporters 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶3.  (SBU) For Sub-Saharan African states, the recognition of 
Morocco's sovereignty in the Western Sahara, or abstaining 
from taking a position on the issue, is the litmus test on 
which relations are evaluated.  Changes, which in recent 
years have been almost invariably in favor of the Moroccan 
position, often result from direct engagement by Morocco and 
are generally a precondition for assistance, investment and 
support.  Modest by international standards, Morocco has 
extended a hand to assist countries whose foreign policy is 
aligned with Morocco's; this assistance has had both 
bilateral and regional implications.  In the past year, 
Moroccan King Mohammed VI established the Alaouite Foundation 
for Sustainable Development, a fund directed toward projects 
on the African continent and also intended as a political 
tool.  Furthermore, Morocco has given direct payments to 
 
foreign government officials in exchange for their support on 
Western Sahara, though we have not heard of these recently. 
 
¶4.  (SBU) Within the last few years, Morocco sent military 
supplies to the Seychelles that were then forwarded to the 
Comoros.  Once received by the Comoros, the equipment was 
used to expel rebels from an outlying island.  The details of 
this transaction became public after the Comoros thanked the 
GOM on the margins of the last Arab Summit in Damascus, Syria 
in April of this year for the support.  About the same time, 
the Seychelles withdrew its recognition of the SADR. 
 
¶5.  (SBU) Senegal's support for Morocco has resulted in 
significant bilateral assistance from Morocco.  The GOM has 
assisted Senegal with de-mining in the southern, Casamance 
region of the country.  Likewise, Morocco endorsed and 
supported Senegal's hosting the March 2008 Summit of the 
Organization of the Islamic Conference. 
 
¶6.  (SBU) For the inauguration of the President of 
Guinea-Bissau, Morocco flew down supplies for the reception 
for 500, including the tents, tables, chairs, flowers and 
food.  Likewise, when the Liberian soccer team ran into visa 
issues ahead of attending training in Germany, the GOM 
stepped in to offer assistance.  In May 2008, the Liberian 
national team trained for ten days in Morocco at the GOM's 
invitation. 
 
¶7.  (SBU) Moroccan support for countries supporting its 
sovereignty over Western Sahara was also evident when Zaire's 
former president Mobuto's partisans found refuge in Morocco 
as the government collapsed.  Even today, Congolese remain a 
significant percentage of asylum seekers in Morocco. 
 
¶8.  (SBU) The creation of the Alaouite Foundation for 
Sustainable Development, recently formed and still in its 
initial stages of development, was announced by King Mohammed 
VI at the dedication of an optometry clinic built near Dakar, 
Senegal from funds provided by the monarchy.  The Alaouite 
Foundation anticipates undertaking additional development and 
humanitarian assistance projects in Niger, Sierra Leone, 
Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire, all countries friendly to 
Morocco's Sahara cause. 
 
¶9.  (U) In February, 2002, King Mohammed VI brought together 
the heads of states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to 
reactivate the Mano River Union (MRU) -- a Western African 
grouping of countries begun in the 1970s to focus on economic 
and security development.  Though the MRU had been active in 
the 1980s, strife among the three nations stifled diplomatic 
progress and the organization declined.  In May 2008, the 
three countries, along with Guinea-Bissau and Cote d'Ivoire, 
signed an agreement to control their borders and cooperate in 
development issues. 
 
¶10.  (C) It should be noted that Algeria, which is far 
wealthier, has tried to outbid Morocco, but it has been 
regularly outclassed by deft Moroccan diplomacy.  One 
exception is South Africa.  In the Apartheid era, the African 
National Congress received significant support from the GOM, 
but in 2004 moved to support the SADR, in return, some 
allege, for significant Algerian financial incentives. 
 
Sticks to Dissenters 
-------------------- 
 
¶11.  (SBU) A review of the countries supporting the SADR 
reveals the legacy of the Cold War as Algeria's supporters 
provided recognition and legitimacy to the SADR.  Likewise, 
 
glancing at the African countries that diplomatically 
supported the SADR in the past but have terminated their 
support and/or are now supporting the GOM position is 
reflective of their maturing process away from populist 
nationalism that dominated Africa at independence.  Though 
there are a few exceptions, the recognition of the SADR by an 
African nation generally results in Morocco's diplomatic 
shunning of that country or active diplomacy against it. 
 
¶12.  (S) The GOM has long opposed the Government of Robert 
Mugabe in retaliation for Zimbabwe's support of Algeria and 
the POLISARIO, and has made clear its disapproval of Mugabe's 
current heavy-handed effort to remain in power (reftel). 
Recently, the GOM has extended diplomatic support to Morgan 
Tsvangirai, the leader of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement 
for Democratic Change in retaliation for Zimbabwe's support 
of Algeria and the POLISARIO. 
 
¶13.  (C) Tensions between South Africa and Morocco in recent 
years have risen and they have engaged in open squabbling, 
which escalated after a South African envoy went in April 
2008 to Tifarity in the trans-berm buffer zone in the Western 
Sahara and pledged to help construct a sports facility there. 
 Also, at the last United Nations Security Council debate on 
the Sahara, the South African Ambassador compared the Israeli 
treatment of Palestine to the Moroccan presence in the Sahara. 
 
"Stuck in the Middle" Neutrality as a Response 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶14.  (SBU) The Government of Niger, which has chosen to 
remain neutral and back the United Nations efforts in the 
Sahara, enjoys a relatively close relationship with Morocco. 
Fearing Algerian interference, particularly along their 
common border where Niger is currently engaged in a conflict 
with Tuareg rebels, Niger is hesitant to back Morocco's 
Saharan claims.  Coping with this situation, the Nigerien 
government has resorted to playing Algeria and Morocco off of 
one another.  Recently, wanting to increase military training 
in Morocco, Niger threatened to send forces to Algeria for 
training.  Concerned about a potential loss of influence, 
Morocco added the additional training authorizations. 
 
¶15.  (SBU) Also choosing to stay neutral and back the United 
Nations efforts in the Sahara, Liberia enjoys a relatively 
close relationship with Morocco.  Liberia ended its 
diplomatic recognition of the SADR and established its 
Embassy in Rabat in 1997 where its primary mission is to 
attract Moroccan investment to Liberia and encourage trade 
between the two countries.  Liberian officials rate their 
success at encouraging business relationships as poor. 
However, Morocco is currently providing educational support 
to Liberia with over 50 Liberian students in Moroccan 
universities across the nation and in numerous programs of 
study. 
 
Self-Exile from African Union, But Not Africa 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
¶16.  (SBU) Morocco remains the only country in Africa not 
participating in the AU.  Stepping out of the Union in 
protest of the inclusion of the SADR has not lessened 
Morocco's commitment to peace on the African continent 
though.  Morocco has historically been a contributor to 
United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Africa and publicly 
highlights its significant and generally positive 
contribution to UN peacekeeping.  On May 29, 2008, the 
International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, Morocco 
celebrated the 50th anniversary of its strategic partnership 
 
in Africa with the United Nations.  Morocco has participated 
in 15 United Nations peacekeeping operations on four 
continents and is currently the 12th largest contributor of 
forces to the United Nations in the world (sixth among 
African countries and second in the Arab world).  It 
currently has over 1,500 peacekeepers deployed, most of them 
in Cote d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 
Operationally, these missions have apparently been quite 
successful.  However, Moroccan peacekeeping contributions 
have been tarnished by allegations of sexual abuse of local 
women by the individual members of the contingent in the DRC. 
 (Note: The UN was not able to confirm allegations made in 
Cote d'Ivoire, although the GOM claims to have punished 
wrongdoers.  End Note.) 
 
¶17.  (SBU) Morocco participated in the original UN 
peacekeeping mission in Somalia, but its involvement ended as 
the situation deteriorated.  Recent AU involvement has been 
cited by the GOM as its reason for avoiding involvement. 
Furthermore, the GOM has avoided any engagement in Darfur, 
citing the significant AU role. 
 
¶18.  (SBU) Morocco has also engaged in attempts to resolve 
sub-regional conflicts within Africa, such as its role in 
developing the Mano River Union between Sierra Leone, Liberia 
and Guinea.  In an effort to further its position, Morocco is 
advancing an initiative to create a "South Atlantic Security" 
organization to counter smuggling and trafficking between 
Latin America and West Africa.  Morocco's proposal would 
extend as far south as Equatorial Guinea and west to the 
island nation of Cape Verde. 
 
Beyond the Political 
-------------------- 
 
¶19.  (U) Morocco is also the beneficiary of a legacy of 
historical religious authority over several North African 
countries.  Moroccan sovereignty over North Africa at one 
time extended into parts of present day Algeria, Mali and 
Mauritania with tribes ranging as far south as Senegal.  The 
Moroccan King, who claims to be a descendant of the prophet 
Mohammed, enjoys some religious credibility as "Commander of 
the Faithful" with West African Muslims outside Morocco's 
borders.  In 2007, the King hosted a conference of the Tariqa 
Tijania, a major Sufi Islamic movement that originated in 
Morocco and claims millions of adherents in West Africa. 
 
¶20.  (SBU) Only eight miles from Europe across the Strait of 
Gibraltar, Morocco is a land bridge for immigrants going from 
Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and beyond.  Partnering with the 
European Union, Morocco was recently granted 190 million 
euros partially to support countermeasures against illegal 
migration.  Reports in the Moroccan media press recently 
claimed that as a result of Morocco's efforts, clandestine 
immigration, through Morocco, is down 91 percent from its 
rate three years ago.  That reduction may be increasing the 
presence of frustrated migrants here. 
 
¶21.  (SBU) In addition, reflecting ties that developed over 
centuries during the trans-Saharan caravan trade in salt and 
gold, etc., Morocco has growing economic engagement with 
Sub-Saharan countries.  Moroccans invest in banking, 
telecommunications, and transportation, among other sectors. 
The GOM also funds training for other Africans in Moroccan 
universities, and the deployment of Moroccan technicians to 
African countries.  One recent example was the 2006 
deployment of Moroccan army de-miners to Senegal.  Just in 
May 2008, Senegal signed a contract with Morocco's national 
electricity office for a concession for rural 
 
electrification.  The airline, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), is 
turning its home base of Casablanca into a regional hub for 
West Africa.  Some of these ties are subsidized, and are 
likely to reinforce political concerns, particularly on 
Sahara.  One likely example is the newly opened RAM air 
connection to Monrovia. 
 
 
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Riley