The strategic location of the Alawi kingdom is very attractive for the project that the White House wants to launch

Morocco, a key player in the US-driven Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation

Militares de AFRICOM, se reunieron con el general marroquí Berrid, IG de las Fuerzas Armadas Reales durante su viaje a Marruecos el 22 de febrero de 2024. - PHOTO/X @USAfricaCommand
AFRICOM military, met with Moroccan General Berrid, IG of the Royal Armed Forces during his trip to Morocco on 22 February 2024. - PHOTO/X @USAfricaCommand

In November last year, Morocco announced an initiative that aims to guarantee access to the Atlantic Ocean for all Sahel countries. Rabat is working to improve access to a key region, while continuing to expand its portfolio of partners. This has meant not only that the Alawi kingdom is experiencing a period of strong growth, but also that it is doing so to the detriment of Algeria, whose crisis continues to deepen by leaps and bounds.

  1. Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation
  2. The United States puts the spotlight on Morocco
  3. Joint briefing at the Moroccan embassy in Washington
  4. Morocco and Mauritania, a partnership with a view to the Atlantic

Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation

In this context of Moroccan expansion, the United States wants to count on Aziz Akhannouch's country as a key partner in a new project called the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation. This initiative involves 32 countries and aims to cover numerous fields of work. From the economic development of the region, to environmental protection, to a major strengthening of security.

The official communiqué issued at the time of the founding stated a twofold purpose for this project: "to enable the Atlantic countries to expand cooperation on a range of shared objectives and to respect a set of shared principles for Atlantic cooperation". The fact that this is one of the world's busiest trade areas means that Washington wants to increase its efforts, while at the same time gaining influence in the region, with Morocco as an unbeatable partner.

Visita de Michael Langley a Marruecos - PHOTO/FILE
Michael Langley's visit to Morocco - PHOTO/FILE

The United States puts the spotlight on Morocco

King Mohammed VI emphasised when announcing the initiative that will unite all Sahelian countries that the objective is to "transform the Atlantic interface into a space for human communication, economic integration and continental and international outreach". This show of Moroccan leadership is one of the reasons the US sees for entrusting much of the responsibility for its new project to Rabat.

Morocco, along with Spain and Angola, will lead the special marine planning group. Workshops chaired by these states will address related issues of common interest. It is worth noting that this territory also includes Western Sahara, which is recognised as Moroccan by the United States and an increasing number of other countries, with French support for the autonomy plan under Moroccan sovereignty that is eagerly awaited in the Alawi kingdom.

PHOTO/AFP - Esta fotografía de archivo muestra banderas de Estados Unidos y Marruecos junto a un mapa de Marruecos autorizado por el Departamento de Estado de EE. UU. que reconoce el territorio en disputa internacional del Sáhara Occidental (con la firma del embajador de Estados Unidos en Marruecos, David T. Fischer) como parte del reino norteafricano
This file photo shows US and Moroccan flags next to a map of Morocco authorised by the US State Department recognising the internationally disputed territory of Western Sahara (with the signature of US Ambassador to Morocco David T. Fischer) as part of the North African kingdom - PHOTO/AFP

This is a unique opportunity for Morocco. This project allows it to deepen relations with the United States while focusing on improving security in the region with the partnership of a superpower. Indeed, one of Rabat's priorities is to be able to expand African markets in the Atlantic region, but to do so in a stable and secure manner, something that has been complicated in recent times due to the turmoil that has constantly surrounded this part of the globe.

"Morocco's geostrategic privilege and the ambition of countries occupying the Atlantic Ocean, including Spain, are in harmony with the Kingdom's approach to securing maritime spaces and strengthening the naval and military fleet". Hisham Moataded, an expert in international and strategic relations, told Al-Arab.

Joint briefing at the Moroccan embassy in Washington

Progress between the US and Moroccan administrations is constant. Proof of this was the latest joint briefing held at the Moroccan embassy in Washington. This session was attended by 39 ambassadors and representatives of all the countries involved in the project. The Moroccan ambassador, Youssef Amrani, emphasised the "creation of an economic corridor" that would make it possible to connect "Atlantic Africa with the northern and western hemispheres, as well as favouring access for the countries of the Sahel".

Jessica Lapenn, American coordinator for Atlantic cooperation, thanked Morocco for its commitment and leadership in carrying out this plan, while expressing her country's confidence in Rabat to be the pillar on which much of the responsibility falls. In this regard, he also recalled the work programmes that are scheduled to begin this year with the member countries of the Atlantic Cooperation Partnership.

"Plastic pollution; food security; and innovative financing tools for the conservation and sustainable use of Atlantic marine resources", are the first sectors to be addressed at the beginning of this series of programmes. In these, Morocco has a slight advantage over its partners thanks to the steps it has been taking through its project for access to the Atlantic for the Sahel countries, for which it has been working closely with countries such as Mauritania.

El ministro Nasser Bourita y su homólogo mauritano, el Sr. Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug - Twitter @DiplomaciaM
Minister Nasser Bourita and his Mauritanian counterpart, Mr. Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug - Twitter @DiplomacyM

Morocco and Mauritania, a partnership with a view to the Atlantic

The visit of Mohamed Salem Ould Marzouk, Mauritania's Foreign Minister, to Rabat just a month ago was the umpteenth symptom that Morocco's ties with its strategic partners for this initiative are - despite many on the Algerian side trying to sell the contrary - excellent. Nasser Bourita, Marzouk's counterpart, stressed Mauritania's role as a "necessary pole of stability in the Sahel region and in the West African region".

The two ministers made it clear that, if all goes according to plan, they will strengthen their partnership through the Atlantic project, which will be carried out in parallel to that proposed by the United States. Far from stepping on each other's toes, they will be strengthened, precisely thanks to the trust placed in Morocco by the White House to lead the bulk of the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation from Africa.

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