Morocco and the Mediterranean power struggle

The Moroccan kingdom is more committed than ever to furthering its development, which is evident in the Mediterranean area 
El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores marroquí, Nasser Bourita - AFP/TOBIAS  SCHWARZ
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita - AFP/TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Strategic orientations in the Mediterranean no longer depend exclusively on Europe and the United States. As the EuroMeSCo Euromed Survey ‘The Future of the European Neighbourhood Policy’ reveals, new actors such as China, India, Brazil, the Gulf States and Turkey have emerged, offering different and attractive perspectives.  

The landscape in the Mediterranean region is not the only thing that has changed. Morocco is now experiencing what it calls an ‘era of choice’... what does this mean? The North African country is building its foreign policy on two pillars: self-assertion and sovereignty. From there, it takes active and strategic decisions. However, this is not synonymous with a structural reversal of its orientations; it means that the state is not sticking to a route marked by its historical past when it comes to maintaining alliances or partnerships. 

Torre Mohammed VI en Rabat - AFP/FADEL SENNA

Rabat has not abandoned its core policies and structural orientations. Indeed, it is maintaining its economic and political foundations. However, it is learning how to take advantage of new global dynamics to diversify its international relations and explore new opportunities.  

The EU remains today the most influential trading partner of the southern Mediterranean countries. However, it falls short of the expected success of cooperation. Considering the growth of competition, there are increasing obstacles to the implementation of EU programmes, as they remain distant from southern partners, who find it more attractive to approach more like-minded partners in order to avoid having to go through lengthy adaptation and coordination processes in order to reap the benefits. 

Unlike the EU, the new actors with influence in the Mediterranean are interesting for Morocco in that they do not move through a collective policy, the product of the union of several states. They present national policies that are apparently simpler to implement and coherent with their foreign policy.  

Threats to the Mediterranean area have generally been assumed to originate on the southern shore. Today, geopolitical and security gyrations reveal a multi-scale threat. Sino-US tension has created a global tension that is accentuated by wars and the struggle for influence between Russia and the West.  

Pasillo de las banderas de la sede de la OTAN en Bruselas - <a  data-cke-saved-href="" href="">Depositphotos</a>
Flag corridor at NATO headquarters in Brussels - Depositphotos

The Mediterranean is a chessboard on which NATO and Russia move their pieces to win the battle for power, with relations in the region shifting towards the maritime space. In addition, the involvement of emerging powers is multiplying, as well as diversifying international partnerships. The consolidation of relations with the United States and the European Union is a valuable principle for Moroccan foreign policy. But at this point, economic partnership with China and a turn towards sub-Saharan Africa, in search of new economic, political and diplomatic frontiers, may be matters of greater urgency.  

Whatever it does, Morocco is aware that it is not tied down and will make choices with a view to further boosting its accelerated growth.