Morocco has grown tired of both the Ukraine war and the bullying from the Biden administration, and its king has chosen to put the needs of his people first.
The bold threat from America’s UN ambassador recently, when in Ghana, directed at African countries toying with the idea to trade with Russia, was clear. If African countries want to do business with Russia beyond grain and agricultural equipment, then there would be consequences, warned Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Secondary sanctions are important to the US as they beef up existing ones between the US and Russia, even though for many western countries, they are a cruel parody which punishes those imposing them rather than those who are on the receiving end; few citizens of EU countries believe that their spiralling economies and out of control heating costs are worth the stance is taken against Russia, which has never had a rouble as strong as it is today, while the British pound, for example, hits an all-time low.
Secondary sanctions, those which the US imposes on the global south, for example, it is believed can make a difference. Quite apart from many of these countries buying oil and gas from Russia, many in Africa, in particular, look towards Russia as a new cooperation partner exhausted by the EU’s rants on human rights or America’s deluded ideas about hegemony. And so, to cut trade between Africa and Russia would be a real coup for the West if it were able to pull it off.
And yet, it seems, despite the battlefield looking different in Ukraine, as Russia loses territory, the bigger picture of this global war around the world is nothing to celebrate for the West, given that secondary sanctions will be nearly impossible to sustain.
All it will take is one African country to disregard them, and a house of cards tumbling down scenario will almost certainly entail.
This is why Joe Biden has a real problem now with Morocco, a country which has stood out for decades as being a special friend of the US, with what state department types call “best buddy” status.
#BreakingTheSilence NOT on #ukraineWar but on #Morocco's #CENSORED #War of #OCCUPATION (VIOLATION of #InternationalLaw &— 🇪🇭 Sahara Occidental (@guerra_sahara) October 24, 2022
the role of #resources and #climate change in the ongoing #conflict in the #WesternSahara, #AFRICA's #Lastcolony @UN @_AfricanUnion https://t.co/7hb9xMSTQa
Even with this friendship, Morocco has grown tired of both the Ukraine war and the bullying from the Biden administration, and its king has chosen to put the needs of his people first. Just recently, Morocco signed a huge deal with Russia for the construction of both nuclear energy plants and desalination operations along its coastline – two areas in both desperate needs of an overhaul to make the country more energy independent and able to fend off a drought unseen for forty years in the kingdom.
Astute analysts will notice since February that relations between two key GCC countries (UAE and KSA) and Russia have actually improved since the Ukraine war started in February. And Morocco is now waking up and smelling the coffee and joining this group and its ethos: get closer to Russia and use this for leverage with Washington.
In fact, Saudi Arabia and the UAE took this concept even further recently when they agreed with Russia to cut oil production, with the specific aim of harming Joe Biden at the mid-term elections, paving the way for the second half of his term in office as being ceremonious only, hoping that Donald Trump can come back into the Oval office.
For Morocco, the move to actually smash the US demands of secondary sanctions is a geopolitical colossus all on its own and has thrown a spotlight on a diffident monarch who now leads a cause on behalf of the continent. But it is less nefarious that the GCC states keep oil prices high and more to do with trying to help poor Moroccans cope with a new world order, climate change and drought, which are, of course, all linked.
The King has risen above the foibles and fatuous gestures and has gone ahead with the Russia deal as it makes sense in the coming years to tackle these issues head-on, providing water for his own people and cheaper energy. It’s also a good idea to become more independent energy-wise so as to keep a distance from any future energy squabbles which might emerge.
The message to many African countries will be heard by Washington, weakening Joe Biden’s reputation with voters back home who see that everything he touches outside of America blows up in his face like a cheap party trick, leaving most Americans baffled as to what America’s objectives are around the world.
For Morocco to be the first to break the house rules and set an example to many African countries which respect it and its monarch is a big deal. The King, it seems, has been fed up with the games the West plays.
France is blocking Moroccans from entering the Republic, the EU is doing little if anything to assist Rabat with its problems with Algeria and Macron’s latest ‘EU Community’ conference didn’t even invite the Moroccans to it.
So much for special relationships when, in reality, they are not worth the press releases they are written on. The King of Morocco has set the example, and many others will follow in Africa.
The months previously of a frosty relationship with Moscow are a thing of the past as Russia is now seen as a valued partner and one even Rabat can negotiate with, regarding Algeria’s position in disputed Western Sahara territory – an initiative which the EU and US couldn’t even manage when the occasion called for it, and tensions reached fever pitch.
Martin Jay is an award-winning British journalist based in Beirut who has worked for a number of international media titles including CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera as well as reporting on a freelance basis for the UK’s Daily Mail, The Sunday Times plus TRT World.
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