Strengthening Cooperation with the Middle East, Europe, and the US: All in a Week’s Work for Morocco – Caitlin Dearing Scott
Caitlin Dearing Scott, MAC
March 16, 2015
It’s been a busy week for Moroccan diplomacy. From hosting the Libya talks to the visits of King Abdullah II of Jordan, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and a US Congressional Delegation, Morocco reinforced its cooperation with partners in the Middle East, Europe, and the US.
First up were the Libya negotiations, which took place in Skhirat late last week and over the weekend. The meeting marked the first time that all the parties were brought together around the same table — a symbolic achievement at the very least. Speaking at the negotiations, Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar reiterated Morocco’s commitment to Libya’s unity and stability and expressed hope that negotiations could bring about a political solution to the current crisis.
Next was the visit of Minister Fabius, in the country to discuss bilateral relations, regional security, and trade – and to mark a new chapter in French-Moroccan relations. Fabius met with King Mohammed VI, Minister Mezouar, and Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelillah Benkiran. In a joint statement released following the visit, the two countries reaffirmed the importance of their partnership and underscored their shared commitment to judicial cooperation, the fight against radical extremism, and the promotion of peace and security throughout the region, specifically to strengthen triangular cooperation mechanisms in Africa in the areas of investment, education, and food security.
For his part, Minister Fabius cited Morocco as a “major partner for France” and “reiterated France’s support to the momentum of reform, openness and progress fostered in Morocco, under the Leadership of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI.” He also noted France’s support for a negotiated political settlement to the Western Sahara crisis and its support for the Moroccan autonomy plan.
While Minister Fabius was in Rabat, Morocco also welcomed a US Congressional Delegation led by Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers. The delegation met with Minsiter Delegate of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mbarka Bouaida and Minister Delegate of the Interior Charki Drais to discuss the US-Morocco strategic partnership and the important political, economic, and security relations between the two countries. Chairman Rogers lauded the historic relationship and underscored the willingness of the United States to promote and reinforce it, particularly in the area of security. On that note, the two parties highlighted the need to combat extremist and terrorist movements that threaten the stability and security of the region. Minister Delegate Bouaida praised the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism as an occasion to confront these movements on a worldwide scale and stressed Morocco’s political will for inclusive and pragmatic cooperation on countering extremism.
Last, but certainly not least, King Mohammed VI welcomed King Abdullah II of Jordan for a series of talks on bilateral relations. In a statement released after the talks, the two leaders stressed their shared commitment to pan-Arab solidarity, stability, and prosperity. To confront one of the major issues facing the region today — terrorism — the two leaders “stressed the need to fight extremist ideology and terror wherever it is and urged Muslim scholars and thinkers to promote an enlightening discourse that highlights Islam’s true values and principles.” On the question of the Sahara, King Abdullah II “voiced Jordan’s support to the territorial integrity of Morocco” and underscored that the Moroccan autonomy plan should be the basis for a negotiated solution between the parties.
It is not surprising that Morocco continues to expand its diplomatic mission in the region. Given the challenges to stability and economic development, the King of Morocco has decided to increase his country’s efforts to play a pivotal role in promoting security, stability, and economic cooperation throughout the region through effective partnerships with allies and friends. Morocco’s high visibility efforts complement what are years of realistic steps to build a foundation of cooperation and respect among nations. Clearly, Morocco remains a key partner for those seeking solutions to today’s most pressing issues.