Pambazuka online (August 4th, 2016) where this piece was originally published introduced Malainin Mohamed Lakhal, the author of this piece, as a freelance journalist and translator as well as a member of the Saharawi Natural Resource Watch (www.osrn.info). His is a fairly long piece but it cannot be edited because the subject matter is a different matter altogether in the African crisis. Nevertheless, Intervention welcomes alternative views to his. – Editor
Morocco is seeking to rejoin the African Union, but its motives are suspect. As suggested by an arrogant letter to the AU Chairman, Rabat could be intending to use its membership to strengthen its colonial claims over occupied Western Sahara, an AU founding member state. Moreover, as an ally of Western powers, Morocco could be used to sabotage effective African unity from within the AU.
The news about an imminent “return” of Morocco to the African Union has jammed the internet these recent days, leading the Moroccan means of “information” to invent scenes and scenarios that only exist in the minds of their writers about a victorious participation of an alleged Moroccan delegation at the opening of the African Union 27th Summit, held on 17-18 July in Kigali, Rwanda. Various Moroccan media pretended that the delegation gave a speech at the Summit – but it turned out to be a very long and incredible letter from the Moroccan King, Mohamed VI, that was handed over, on Sunday, to the Chadian President and current Chairman of the AU, Idriss Deby Itno, by the Speaker of Morocco’s Parliament, Mr. Rachid Talbi Alami.
Reading the letter was a painful exercise for me as an African first and Saharawi in the second place, because it is simply a long and rude message from Morocco, full of arrogant statements, insults to Africans, to the Organization of the African Unity (OAU) and to the AU.
King Mohammed iv of Morrocco
In the following paragraphs we will try to draw the attention of the reader to the main insults, myths/lies and conditions the Moroccan King shamelessly composed in his letter. The letter was expected to be a formal request from his country to join the AU, but turned out to be a strange self-centered monologue containing open and arrogant insults against AU/Founding Fathers/Member States and erroneous information meant to mislead the Moroccan public more than anyone else to give them the illusion that Africa cannot survive without Morocco.
A necessary background
The Moroccan kingdom voluntarily and officially left the OAU in 1984 protesting against the recognition by the continental organization of the Saharawi Republic. In fact, the African Founding Fathers had been working hard then to decolonize many remaining African colonies, including Western Sahara. When Spain hastily and irresponsibly withdrew from its colony to cowardly leave it vulnerable and not decolonized to the Morocco-Mauritanian occupation, Africa was shocked and tried its best to convince the two African countries to put an end to this adventure and enable the Saharawi people to regain their freedom. Mauritania quickly withdrew from this unjust act of colonization, while Morocco persisted in its defiance and rejection of all African leaders’ initiatives from 1975 to this date.
In many reactions to the African positions and attempts to resolve the conflict, the Moroccan officials, including the highest ones, usually underestimated and even insulted the African institutions and personalities, the last of whom the AU Special Envoy, President Joaquim Chissano, or those leaders who may express positive opinions on the issue.
Lately it was whispered by the Moroccan media, and even some Africans and Europeans, that the Kingdom is coming back to the AU to occupy its place among African nations, having been the only African country outside the pan-African grouping for so many years. These sources also said that the King was convinced by many African leaders and his friends from all over the world that the policy of an empty chair was bringing no profits to the Moroccan case, and therefore the Kingdom must seek to return to the African organization. So, informal debates were going on within the African elite on the issue and many points of view were aired though never officially expressed.
Some said that there was no way Africa could accept the membership of Morocco since it is a colonial state militarily occupying a member State of the AU, the Saharawi Republic. They argued that Africa and Africans had rejected the membership of South Africa for decades because of its apartheid regime and because of the massive and criminal oppression that regime was perpetrating against our sisters and brothers in South African and its illegal exploitation of the resources of Namibia. These hardcore Pan-Africanists consider that the Kingdom of Morocco has no place among the free nations of Africa unless it ends its illegal occupation and colonization of the territories of the Saharawi Republic. They believe that the fact that Morocco is an African nation cannot push Africans to tolerate or moderate their positions, because colonization and occupation are the same no matter who the colonizer is.
Others say that, to the contrary, Morocco is an important African State and it must return to the African Union. They further believe that Morocco is capable of bringing a lot to the organization and has many good experiences to share. But maybe they forget that if this same country becomes member, it would sabotage all possible resolutions to the longstanding conflict in Western Sahara. It will even attempt to destroy and divide the organization from within with all its well-known and uncovered strategies of corruption and espionage. One can easily go back to the Wikileaks’ information on the methods used by the former Moroccan ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council to have a hint on this possible sabotage Morocco will certainly lead from within the AU if it becomes member.
A third opinion says that it may be good to have Morocco back into the African sphere so as Africans can easily and openly express their opinions to the Moroccan officials who have always refused to listen to any point of view that criticizes or condemns the Moroccan colonial expansionism. And in the end, they argue that the very entry of Morocco to the AU will be a clear recognition of the Saharawi Republic as an irrevocable fact and will even serve to convince many states to recognize the Saharawi government.
Now, Morocco has led a huge campaign in Africa, targeting all influential countries, including the closest supporters of the Saharawi’s freedom such as Algeria, Nigeria, and Kenya, to mention only these three that were formally declared by the Moroccan media. But the letter of the King that the media have been talking about all this week turns out to be just a long text suggesting that Africa without Morocco was nothing and will be nothing. It is a letter full of insults to the Founding Fathers, to the OAU and to the AU.
Morocco is putting a condition in its letter against the presence of the Saharawi Republic; tomorrow we do not know against which other member State it may ask the same thing. As an organization the AU may have to create a category of Permanent Member States that have veto right, and of course, if we read between the lines, Morocco sees itself as the one entitled to such possible right.
When the King adds insults to injury
To add insults to injury the Moroccan government arrogantly published the letter in the official Press Agency, MAP, as if it was an open letter and not an official one especially sent to the AU officials and Heads of State and Governments.
“…. with respect to the Sahara issue, institutional Africa can no longer bear the burden of a historical error and of a cumbersome legacy.”(The error here is the membership of the Saharawi Republic).
“This ethical requirement means we should reject and condemn the misjudgments of the past and whatever acts that go against the course of history.” (I cannot imagine anything more insulting to the whole Pan African history and achievements. Morocco estimates here that the Founding Fathers of the OAU were not mature enough when they decided to recognize the Saharawi Republic.)
“Surely the African Union is out of step with international law since this so-called state (SADR) is not a member of the United Nations Organization, nor of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League or any other sub-regional, regional or international institution.” (We wonder what the international legality Morocco refers to is. Also, we wonder whether the King knows that the SADR is hindered from getting membership in many international organizations because it is still colonized!)
“The African Union is thus completely out of step with developments in the Sahara issue at the level of the United Nations Organization. A process is underway, under the auspices of the UN Security Council, to reach a final political solution to this regional dispute.” (The same process Morocco never stopped hampering.)
Worse, the King believes that “the AU is the only organization prejudging the outcome of that process”! How could he possibly come out with this conclusion? Is he expecting Africans to support colonialism in their own continent?
Moreover, he deepens the insult, adding that “history will remember this episode as an act of deceit and as a misuse of procedures to serve interests that are yet to be elucidated – an act similar to the abduction of a child, since the OAU was fairly unseasoned at the time.” (Because it seems that His Majesty sees our Founding Fathers and the OAU as unseasoned and immature when they decided to oppose the Moroccan colonial adventure).
For the King the OAU decision to recognize SADR is an “immoral fait accompli, that coup against international legality, led the Kingdom of Morocco to seek to avoid the division of Africa”.
“The Moroccan people and the nation’s driving forces unanimously felt that the admission of a non-sovereign entity, by means of transgression and collusion, was something they simply could not accept.”
Insults to Member States of the AU
Morocco is seeking membership to the AU, but it persists in insulting the Member States that do not adhere to Rabat’s colonial claims and fait accompli in Western Sahara.
The King insulted the Saharawi Republic, a founding member of the AU, by saying: “Indeed, it is difficult to admit that the Kingdom – a nation steeped in history – could somehow be compared to an entity that meets none of the attributes of sovereignty and that is deprived of any representativeness or effectiveness.” (So, should Morocco come back to the AU Africans must give it a special Status in the organization because it has finally decided to be modest and humble to accept to join our deteriorated and sick organization. It cannot be compared to other Members, and especially not to the Saharawi Republic, which is under its colonial dominance. Can’t we easily hear here the old arrogant statements of European colonial powers in the early sixties and beyond in this statement?)
The King also insults all other countries that support the Saharawi legitimate rights to freedom, accusing them of being racists: “And yet, notwithstanding all of the above, some countries continue to claim that Morocco is not in a position to represent Africa, arguably because its population is not predominantly black.”
“Even among the group of 26 countries that chose the ‘division camp’ in 1984…” (That means that an African country is only good if it supports the Moroccan colonial dreams, otherwise, it is in the division camp?)
Moroccan coming strategy to destroy the AU from inside
“The time has come to reject manipulations and funding for separatist movements and to stop sustaining timeworn conflicts in Africa.”
“From within, Morocco will contribute to making the AU a more robust organization – one that is both proud of its credibility and relieved of the trappings of an obsolete era.”
“Through this historic, responsible act, Morocco seeks to work within the AU to transcend divisions.”
All these statements indicate that Morocco is now convinced that it has to enter the AU to blow it from within since it could not reverse its principled position on Western Sahara from outside. It should be recalled here that Morocco has never stopped creating and encouraging all sorts of continental structures, conferences or initiatives that have a possibility to divide Africans, or give some continental powers to alternative structures to AU. The debate within the AU about the different partnerships is just a small and revealing example, since Morocco has always made sure all partners deal with Africa as individual states instead of dealing with the AU as a union.
“Mine is a country whose commitment to just causes needs no further proof. Indeed, my country has been and always will be guided by an unshakable faith in Africa.” (I am wondering, when that was ever the case? Morocco colonized an African member State, has always supported the colonial conspiracies in Africa, has always supported the French neo-colonial plans in North Africa, has abandoned Africans during the most critical decades of the life of the OAU…etc)
“Finally, true to a longstanding tradition of solidarity and commitment to peace in the world, the Kingdom of Morocco, even after it left the OAU, has continued to launch initiatives to promote stability and security.” (This is perhaps why Morocco has problems with all its neighbors: Algeria, Mauritania, Western Sahara, even some European countries, with the UN, the EU..etc. North Africa is the only region in Africa that never succeeded to build a real African Region rightly because of Morocco’s expansionist tendency and territorial claims in all of these countries during the seventies.)
“This is particularly true regarding issues relating to security and the fight against terrorism. The Moroccan expertise, which is widely recognized at the international level and is sought by many countries – including European ones – would be leveraged to promote security and stability in all African countries, particularly those in West and Central Africa.” (Morocco is considered by the UN as the biggest producer and exporter of Cannabis. It is widely known that this criminal production and commerce injects billions of dollars into the Moroccan black boxes and many sources accuse Moroccan officials of being involved in this dirty business. Everyone agrees now that drug trafficking is financing terrorism and organized crime, so how can the above-mentioned statement be relevant? A very big number of terrorists are originating from Morocco and members in all sorts of terrorist groups etc.)
Finally, the King persists and signs that, “Morocco firmly believes in the wisdom of the AU and its ability to restore legality and correct mistakes along the way. As the French proverb says, the only proof of truth is obviousness.”
For him, Morocco will join the AU with the condition that the later restores a presumed injustice through expulsing the Saharawi Republic outside the AU and paving the way to the great enlightened Morocco in. Because in his view, “On reflection, it has become clear to us that when a body is sick, it is treated more effectively from the inside than from the outside.” And so he ends his letter with a further insult to the AU asserting that it is sick and unable to cure its sickness unless Morocco steps in as the savior and the doctor.
It is obvious that Morocco is trying to get the membership of the AU just to stop the Saharawis from getting support in it, or in the worst cases to destroy it from within. Morocco is getting ready to commit all sorts of dividing acts inside our organisation trying to impose its colonialist views on the organization with or without support from other countries. And more important is that it is asking for the membership, but with conditions. Finally, instead of presenting the request humbly and officially and legally, it opted for the public spreading of this humiliating letter not to Saharawis only, but to Africans and to the AU.