By Khaled Saffuri, President at the National Interest Foundation
A new saying is making the rounds in the Middle East: Bush destroyed Iraq, Obama destroyed Syria, and now Trump is destroying what’s left. His celebrated so-called Abraham Accords is a part of that.
Morocco has become the latest Arab government to agree to recognize Israel. The Trump administration naturally claimed credit for another diplomatic achievement. Even some of President Donald Trump’s sharpest critics lauded him for this accomplishment.
The praise is misguided. The Abrahamic agreements required little deft negotiation. Instead, Washington paid for every recognition by sacrificing American interests and short-changing other nations and peoples.
The Morocco-Israel pact is typical. Located in northwest Africa, Morocco always was distant from the Israel-Arab wars and long had a working relationship with Israel. Peace between the two governments was never an issue. The main benefits are symbolic and go to Israel, not the U.S.
The administration celebrated Rabat’s decision while announcing that the U.S. now recognizes Morocco’s control over the Western Sahara. The latter was a Spanish territory until 1975. Rather than accept self-determination by the Sahrawi people, Rabat seized the region. The Polisario Front resisted Rabat’s invasion and is considered the Sahrawi’s legitimate representative by the UN.
Having refused, along with the rest of the international community, to legitimize Moroccan control over the region for the past 45 years, Washington suddenly did what no other nation has done, choose Morocco over the Sahrawi people. This evidently was Rabat’s price for recognizing Israel.
The decision is likely to further radicalize young Sahrawi men. New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff denounced “whitewashing Morocco’s theft of a nation.” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe also criticized the president, pointing out that he “could have made this deal without trading the rights of a voiceless people.”
The administration also apparently offered Rabat $3 billion in investment through the International Development Finance Cooperation, some of which will go to a company owned by the king. Thus, U.S. taxpayers, too, will pay for Morocco’s recognition of Israel. The president evidently is more concerned about the Netanyahu government than the American people.