by Aidan O’Brien
Morocco’s newfound interest in Africa is linked to NATO’s attack on Africa and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi. NATO’s destruction of Libya completely humiliated the African Union. It tore the heart out of an alternative African future, and left Africa seriously exposed once again to the Western imperial virus: a virus contemporary Morocco carries. “Morocco’s body may be in Africa but its mind is in the North Atlantic and the Persian Gulf.”
The Empire’s Fifth Column in Africa: Morocco
by Aidan O’Brien
This article previously appeared in Pambazuka News and Counterpunch.
“With the support of NATO quietly behind it, Morocco is confidently presenting itself as a born again believer in African unity.”
In 1984 Morocco turned it’s back on Africa because the Organization of African Unity refused to support it’s 1975 conquest of Western Sahara. For the next few decades Morocco followed the example of apartheid Israel and looked only towards Europe and America. Morocco, for example, applied (and failed) to join the European Economic Community in 1987. While today (since 2008) it is considered an “advanced” EU neighbor. And militarily it became a NATO partner in 1994 and a major non-NATO US ally in 2004.
Morocco in other words did everything it could to be an honorary white man: it shamelessly raped part of Africa and looked down on the black man. And the white man rewarded it by investing in it.
A few weeks ago, however, (January 31, 2017) Morocco suddenly rejoined Africa. In Addis Ababa the African Union decided to accept Morocco as a member, even though Western Sahara remains in Moroccan hands. Why the sudden change of policy in Morocco and in the African Union? In a word: the killing of Muammar Gaddafi.
The present scramble for Africa is the overall reason. But Gaddafi was the last pan African barrier to Western imperialism 2.0 in Africa. His removal opened the floodgates to 21st century Western power in Africa. The French are now back in Mali. AFRICOM (the US military) is all over the place. And now Morocco wants to be African again.
“Morocco did everything it could to be an honorary white man: it shamelessly raped part of Africa and looked down on the black man.”
Morocco’s newfound interest in Africa complements NATO’s attack on Africa. The Dubai based Al Arabia website reported as much a month before the killing of Gaddafi (October 2011).
“…..When Libyan rebels announced their victory towards the end of August , Morocco was one of the first countries to send its foreign minister, Taeib Fassi Fihri, to Benghazi to express support for the new regime.
“….In this context, NATO’s intervention in Libya and the active role of France in the collapse of Qaddafi’s regime could change the regional situation. It may lead the international community to press for a rapid solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
“The cards will be reshuffled, and in terms of the requests the countries of the south could make on the north, Morocco could include the Western Sahara,” said Khadija Mohsen-Finan, a researcher at Paris-VIII University:
“Now, a new partner [for Morocco] has come out of the woods: NATO,” Finan, a specialist in north African affairs, added….”
Today, six years later, the “reshuffled” deck of cards is being played. With the support of NATO quietly behind it, Morocco is confidently presenting itself as a born again believer in African unity. This despite the fact that it’s colonization of Western Sahara continues.
And the African Union’s ability to resist Morocco’s deviant arrogance -- after the killing of Gaddafi -- is minimal. Gaddafi gave the African Union (AU) a backbone. The AU today however is under siege by the West. And without Gaddafi it has no vision of a way out. In the words of TIME:
“….Gaddafi’s vision for Africa crystallized in a proposal for a United States of Africa, complete with a single currency, a united military and one common passport. That call for African unity was also the theme of his time as chair of the African Union in 2009…”
“Gaddafi’s removal opened the floodgates to 21st century Western power in Africa.”
NATO’s destruction of Libya completely humiliated the African Union. It tore the heart out of an alternative African future. And left Africa seriously exposed once again to the Western imperial virus: a virus contemporary Morocco carries.
The proof of Morocco’s contaminated status is to be found in Yemen. In this war torn land Morocco is part of the royalist invasion led by Saudi Arabia. The fact is that Morocco isn’t just a NATO partner but is also a partner of the GCC (the Gulf Cooperation Council), which is tearing Yemen apart. Of course NATO and the GCC are themselves strategic partners. And caught in the middle -- a plaything of both -- is Morocco.
Further evidence of Morocco’s duplicitous identity is the part it played in the infamous “Safari Club” in the 1970s. This secret “club” was a CIA inspired organization that aimed to “protect” Africa from communism. Morocco’s “partners” that time included the usual suspects: Saudi Arabia, Israel and France. Plus ça change.
Morocco’s body may be in Africa but its mind is in the North Atlantic and the Persian Gulf. In the scramble for Africa it is a significant bridgehead for imperial investors and invaders. From the brand new giant port in Tangier to the plan for pipelines connecting Marrakesh to the Sahara and the recent deals made with Rwanda, Morocco and it’s “partners” are ready to plunder. The rape of Western Sahara is just a foretaste.
“Gaddafi gave the African Union (AU) a backbone.”
The Morocco we speak of, however, is just one man: it’s billionaire king -- Mohammed VI (and before him it was his father Hassan II). Moroccan power rotates around him. And he rotates around Paris and Riyadh. The Moroccan people, in truth, are as voiceless as those in Western Sahara -- the Sahrawi. Poverty is their prison while the king plays.
The Moroccans though can learn from the Sahrawi (a people Gaddafi aided). Their resistance to colonialism is a model for resistance to royalism. Indeed -- as Chomsky says -- it was the protests of the Sahrawi in October and November 2010 which started the Arab Spring.
In fact the great Moroccan people themselves have already produced the answer to their jailers, Mohammed VI and Western imperialism. That answer is Ben Barka. This Moroccan (perhaps the greatest of them all) was as important as Patrice Lumumba. In the 1960s Barka was so close to Cuba that it was he who organized the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana. But Barka was murdered before seeing his vision materialize: Third World Solidarity. In 1965 he was “disappeared” in Paris.
The Empire and its kings can kill and bribe as many Africans as it wants. But Africa and the Third World will win. Time and truth is theirs. The Empire and its kings can wear an African mask. But their skull and bones are clearly visible. Their neoliberal lies have been exposed. For these reasons, there is no alternative to the visions of the Sahrawi, Gaddafi and Ben Barka.
Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.