Strengthening the Strategic Partnership with Morocco: A Call for Recognition and Deeper Cooperation

I write here today to delve into a matter of profound significance – the fortification of our strategic partnership with Morocco, and an appeal for recognition and deeper cooperation.

Throughout my existence, Morocco has consistently manifested itself as a steadfast ally, demonstrating an unwavering loyalty to the West in a region characterized by a history of oscillating alliances. I recently had the honour of visiting Western Sahara, and I am here to elucidate the strategic importance of Morocco, its congruence with Western values, and the potential for an even more fortified partnership with the United Kingdom.

In the annals of history, Morocco has emerged as a strategic ally. During the epoch of the Cold War, when a sizeable portion of North Africa was gravitating towards the Soviet Union, Morocco remained resolute in its commitment to the West. The alliances forged by King Hassan II with Ronald Reagan’s America and Margaret Thatcher’s Britain laid a robust foundation for cooperation. Morocco’s geographic position, at the crossroads of Africa and Europe, underscores its strategic significance. This strategic value transcends geography, fostering substantial interdependence between our nations.

We inhabit a world where destabilizing forces are escalating. The burgeoning influence of Iran across the Middle East and North Africa poses a critical threat. Since the Iranian Revolution, the regime has endeavoured to destabilize the region through intimidation and proxy terrorist activities. Alarmingly, Iran’s influence extends to Algeria, a supporter of the Polisario Front (PF), which has long engaged in activities against the Moroccan state.

Nonetheless, Morocco emerges as a beacon of resistance against such destabilization. It has severed diplomatic ties with Iran in response to their support for the PF, demonstrating a clear commitment to regional security. As we grapple with the challenges posed by Iran, Morocco emerges as an indispensable partner in curtailing its malign influence.

Beyond its strategic location and opposition to Iran, Morocco embodies the very values that the West champions. The nation actively promotes women’s rights, as evidenced by the leadership role a woman held during our visit to a large-scale engineering project in Dakhla. This stands in stark contrast to the situation in many Arab countries.

Morocco further distinguishes itself through its respect for religious freedom and its functioning democracy. The system of checks and balances ensures the rule of law and individual freedoms, offering a hopeful example for the region.
Given Morocco’s unwavering support and its alignment with Western values, it is imperative that the United Kingdom formally recognize Western Sahara as Moroccan territory, following the lead of the United States, Spain, and France. Although the EU has verbally opposed America’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, it has largely acquiesced, and even tacitly supported, Rabat’s position. I should add that concerns raised by our ambassador regarding potential ramifications for our Overseas Territories lack a clear basis and should not impede this recognition.

Beyond mere recognition, the UK should explore avenues for even deeper cooperation. The strategic location of Western Sahara presents an opportunity for a potential British naval base, bolstering regional security and strengthening our partnership with Morocco.

Furthermore, Morocco’s contribution to European security should be acknowledged. Their efforts in combating illegal immigration and drug trafficking along the southern European coastline benefit the UK significantly. Considering these factors, the possibility of inviting Morocco to join NATO deserves thoughtful consideration.

In conclusion, the time is ripe to elevate our partnership with Morocco. Recognizing Western Sahara as Moroccan territory, exploring a potential naval base, and considering NATO membership all represent concrete steps towards a more robust and mutually beneficial relationship. By working closely with Morocco, a vital ally in a complex region, the UK can enhance regional security and promote the very values it seeks to uphold.

Daniel Kawczynski MP

Daniel Kawczynski is the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, and was elected in 2005.