Paris aggravates its diplomatic crisis in North Africa and sees its position in the Maghreb at risk

Marruecos y Francia: la histórica alianza que pende de un hilo

photo_camera PHOTO/ARCHIVO - King Mohammed VI receives French President Emmanuel Macron in Rabat.

France seems set to lose one of its greatest geostrategic advantages. Its alliance with Morocco has deteriorated to the point of jeopardising what for many was one of the strongest partnerships in North Africa. And it has done so on its own merits. Since the beginning of Emmanuel Macron's second term as French leader, Paris has downgraded relations with its Moroccan ally to a point of contradictions in migration policy and demands on Alawite allies that Rabat is unwilling to tolerate.
Macron has fostered a rift with Morocco, according to experts, by undervaluing his ally. The Alawite kingdom has grown in recent years to become the regional leader, and France's perception of its superiority has not changed, although its weight on the international stage has. Paris has lost ground in the race for leadership in the world in general and in Europe in particular. Meanwhile, its demands, not only with Morocco, but also with the rest of its partners in Africa, have not been commensurate with its position, which is now being called into question.


The intensification of relations between countries such as China, India, Russia, the United States and Turkey with North African countries has not gone down well in France, which has historically seen itself as a step above other countries in terms of ties with its former colonies. Morocco, as one of the most solid partners that Paris has always maintained, has not hesitated to show its discontent with a situation that is more detrimental to the French than to the Moroccans themselves, who continue to consolidate their position at the forefront of North Africa, despite Algerian efforts.
Algiers poses one of the greatest threats to the Kingdom's aspirations. With Algerian President Abdelmajdid Teeboune considering "diplomatic rupture with Morocco as the only alternative to war between the two countries", the context is far from straightforward. In fact, Algeria has already urged France and China to "protect themselves from Morocco", although the French, in one of Emmanuel Macron's specialities, are trying to balance the scales and maintain ties with both countries, ultimately remaining in no man's land, as is becoming clear.


There are several reasons for the rift between Rabat and Paris - some more difficult to understand than others. France's migration policy, which considerably reduced the granting of visas to Moroccans, caused a significant rift. Not even the "return to normality" announced by the French embassy in Rabat has managed to calm Moroccans, who claim that the reality "has not changed". What is more, the visit by the French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, has not managed to restore normality to the migratory situation, the results of which are considered "disappointing" by Rabat.
To this must be added the smear campaign of which Morocco accuses France. According to the Maghreb-Intelligence portal, the French Directorate General of External Security (DGSE) is carrying out a series of actions to defame the Kingdom and tarnish its image. In fact, the director of the French foreign intelligence service, Bernard Emié, is directly accused of orchestrating this action. 


Morocco has more and more reasons to distrust what was once its closest ally. Especially when others such as the United States, Germany and, more recently, Spain, have shown support for the proposal for autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara, which France has not decided to give. Not even Colonna's visit to Morocco was able to obtain firm support from Paris, which has limited itself to recognising Rabat's proposal as a basis for negotiations within the framework of the United Nations. Thus, France is jeopardising its greatest ally in North Africa while Morocco strengthens its ties with other countries in the face of French passivity.

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