Cooperation between Israel and Morocco is more an opportunity than a threat for Spain
Testing the waters, speculation, and intoxication
A piece of news published by El Español on 16 November informed of a supposed agreement between Israel and Morocco to establish a joint military base in the Arab country. The news appears in the context of the coming visit of the Israeli defence minister to Morocco next week to talk about a joint military agreement between both countries: Israeli production of drones in Morocco, or the use of the successful Israeli defence system Iron Dome by Morocco on its border with Algeria.
The newspaper’s piece makes no reference to any source at all. But, to start with, it is very surprising that Israel, a country that has not a single military base outside of its territory, besides small listening stations in the horn of Africa, is going to establish a military base on the other side of the Mediterranean. This, combined with the fact that Morocco has no base in its territory operated or controlled by any foreign country, makes this leak improbable, speculative, and suspicious.
It is natural that the proximity of Morocco generates in our country a special informative interest, but in matters of this importance we should be careful with exaggerations, rumours, or even interested intoxications by one of the many parties that could want to create confusion among the players involved: Spain, United States, Israel, Morocco, France, or Algeria.
The friendship of USA and Israel with Morocco is not “anti-Spanish”
Regardless of the interest that underlies the publishing of this news, we have to understand that it would be infantile to see the emerging alliance of Israel with a country like Morocco, which has various ongoing disputes with Spain, as a declaration of hostility of the Israeli government towards Spain.
In the first place, it is important to remember that the approach between Israel and Morocco is included in the Abraham Accords, by which the Jewish state has normalised its relations with numerous Arab countries that up till now were hostile towards it. In the second place, the main regional enemy of Morocco against which it seeks to rearm itself is Algeria, a country with which the relations have deteriorated dangerously. And in third place, Morocco has a serious problem with jihadism, latent in the heart of the country, and threatening its southern border. It is logical that to counteract these threats it reaches agreements with a country like Israel, which has a proven experience and knowledge fighting that common enemy (which, by the way, is also an enemy of Spain).
Thus, the intensification of the Israeli cooperation with Morocco cannot be interpreted as a challenge against Spain, as it is part of a wider trend that responds to one of the strategic priorities of the Jewish state: to make allies of the old enemies and put an end to its isolation in the Arab world. The successive Israeli governments act in this as any other rational political entity aware of the priority of its interests. Needless to say, the fact that Israel normalises and improves its relations with Morocco does not mean its automatic assumption of the positions and interests of Rabat, and much less, to worsen relations with Madrid.
From a strictly military point of view, it is obvious that the responsibility of improving its defence capacities to face Morocco better armed corresponds exclusively to the Spanish government. On the other hand, the military ambitions of Morocco are not set off by the improvement of the relations with Israel. If it had not established this military cooperation with the Jewish state, it would have looked for other partners in matters of defence who would be much less trustworthy and responsible than Israel.
No government can expect another country to renounce its fundamental objectives for no other reason than to not strengthen an uncomfortable third state, especially when the supposedly affected country constantly ignores the worries of the government from which it expects deference.
The ridiculous demand of an asymmetric relation
The choice of Morocco as a preferred partner in the area, not of Israel, but fundamentally of United States, cannot be understood without looking at the Spanish foreign policy, with an irresponsible bias against the USA that inevitably has to have consequences. The hostility of the Spanish government towards Washington has made it consider others as more reliable allies, in detriment of our country. These decisions do not automatically make the US or Israel anti-Spanish, but Spain has to abandon the naive idea of the permanent rights of a preferred ally without reciprocity in their diplomatic relations.
Since Zapatero, continuing with Rajoy, and even more since the arrival of the socialist-communist coalition in the Spanish government, the strategy of Spanish diplomacy towards Israel has consisted fundamentally in hostile actions with more or less intensity against our ally, while simultaneously demanding from it a firm, unquestionable loyalty. Like the loyalty Israel offered to Spain in support of its national unity faced with the separatist challenge of Catalonia.
The government of Spain systematically disdains the concerns of Israel regarding issues such as the exterior financing of terrorism, to which Spanish institutions controlled by the parties in the government contribute under the cover of human aid. Also, Spain has no problem in cultivating the friendship with a regime that openly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, such as Iran, whose Vice Chancellor was received by the Spanish government just a few days ago. That Iran is far from being a strategic partner, or even important for Spain, makes clear the indifference that the government of Sánchez shows towards the sensitivities of Israel and United States.
The interests of Spain and Israel are solidly aligned… if the Government of Spain wants
Spain is a country with much more economic and political weight than Morocco. According to historical criteria and political culture, it should be a natural partner of Israel in the Western Mediterranean. But the attitude towards Israel of the Spanish governments, especially the current one, puts obstacles in the road to this alliance. It is far from our strategic interests that Jerusalem puts in second place its relation with Spain in favour of approaching another much less relevant country in the area but that is open to establishing a fruitful cooperation.
Not only has Spain renounced to vigorously cultivate bonds with Israel, events such as the abandonment of Irak and the insult to the American flag by President Zapatero, together with the dangerous friendships of the parties in the government that don’t miss an opportunity to ally themselves with the enemies of the free world, have reduced to an almost historical minimum our relations with United States.
As is known, United States has played a key role in the rapprochement between Israel and the Arab countries of the Abraham Accords. Unlike Spain, Morocco takes care of and promotes the relations with United States, which strengthens the Alawi kingdom in the race for regional hegemony, in which Madrid is behind France.
The short-sighted, counterproductive, and even suicidal blind following by the Spanish foreign affairs ministry of its French counterpart (with which we have opposed interests in North Africa and the Middle East) is largely responsible for the weakness of our strategic position; not to mention the bet on losing horses such as the perfectly irrelevant and discredited Polisario Front. Beyond any sentimental or ideological element that the Western Sahara has for many Spaniards, and despite how much the errors of the past may hurt, the viability of a most likely failed state in the Sahara is but a chimera fuelled by Algeria to destabilise Morocco. Only a hyper ideological government such as the Spanish one can continue holding on to the dying remnants of the Cold War, such as the cause of the Polisario in North Africa, or the Palestinian chimera in the Middle East. The responsibility of our government is very serious.
The opportunity for Spain in the new vectors of prosperity
If Spain had maintained the privileged relation it once had with United States, the entry of Morocco in the Abraham Accords would have been enormously beneficial also for our country. And there is where the parameters of our foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and the Middle East, show their outdated, sclerotic nature. While Spain continues to follow the bait of the Palestinians (when a large and growing part of the Arab world has abandoned that idea), we remain absent and with our backs to the tectonic movements and trends of prosperity that are being generated between Israel and the Arab world, and that reach our southern border.
Under the American protection it owes so much to, Rabat would have been forced to cooperate with more sincerity and intensity with Madrid in matters of immigration and the fight against terrorism, as well as to put aside its claims to Ceuta and Melilla for the sake of a greater good, which it now obtains without having to please Spain. Paradoxically, the obscene neglect of the diplomatic functions of Spain has increased the pressure of a populist regime such as the Moroccan (which literally does not hesitate to launch its own people against the Spanish border), and at the same time has given oxygen to a terrorist group with a long history of murders against Spanish citizens, as is the Polisario Front.
The prosperity that will predictably bring the agreement between Morocco and Israel could also be an opportunity for Spain, who is interested in a striving Morocco whose king does not need nationalistic movements of distraction that invariably victimise the neighbour in the north. Spain is not interested in a troubled Morocco, but in a prosperous Morocco, and that said prosperity, in great measure, depends on us.
Finally, the ever improving relations between the defence and intelligence sectors between Israel and Morocco can contribute enormously to the safety and protection of the Spanish borders, if the Government of Madrid takes advantage of the influence that a particularly reliable ally in matters of terrorism and geopolitics is winning in the highest spheres of an ambiguous, but not irrecoverable, regime such as Rabat.
It is the politics of the socialist-communist government of Sánchez, incapable of accepting the negative consequences of his actions for our interests in the international arena by permanently annoying our natural allies, and not the entry of a constructive, democratic, and loyal force in the region, as is Israel, what should worry the Spaniards regarding Morocco and its reencounter with Israel.
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