Before the end of 2021, Morocco decided to send Ambassador Zehour Alaoui back to Berlin after the German government headed by Olaf Scholz expressed its support for Morocco's proposal on the Sahara conflict. As the new year begins, German efforts to strengthen ties with Rabat continue.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has invited King Mohammed VI to Germany for a state visit with the aim of sealing "a new partnership between the two countries". He has also, as the German Foreign Ministry did in December, endorsed the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara, considering it "an effort, credible and a good basis for an agreement". Steinmeier also praised the "innovative approaches in the fight against climate change and energy transition" developed by Rabat.
Several experts have pointed out that Berlin's new position towards the Kingdom reflects a European stance aimed at deepening partnership relations with Rabat while taking into account its national interests and national security. Amine Sossi Alaoui, a Moroccan political analyst, describes Steinmeier's message as 'proof that future policies will be in harmony with the current context and will treat Rabat as a strategic partner with its own commitments'.
Moreover, Alaoui sees the shift in German foreign policy towards Morocco as an attempt by Berlin to 'preserve its interests, especially since Morocco's international alliances have become strong, diversified and very popular inside and outside the European Union'. Rabat's main allies include key powers such as the US and the UK. It has also intensified its alliance with Israel since the two countries announced the resumption of diplomatic relations in December 2020. Since then, Tel Aviv and Rabat have cooperated on security and defence issues.
In this regard, France's efforts to strengthen the partnership with Morocco are noteworthy, "especially in light of its tense relationship with the Algerian regime", notes Moroccan journalist Muhammad Mamouni Al Alawi in Al-Arab, "France and Germany's engagement with Morocco takes into account the European need for Rabat's role in security and immigration issues", he explains. For the time being, the Moroccan ambassador to France, Mohamed Benchaâboun, has already returned to his post in Paris. The former Finance Minister will aim to consolidate the Franco-Moroccan strategic partnership while dealing with some of the obstacles that have strained ties between the two countries in recent months, such as Paris' decision to reduce the number of visas for Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian nationals.
Following the statements by the German authorities, Rabat hopes to strengthen its relations with Paris, especially now that France holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Al Alawi believes that 'the unstable conditions in the other North African countries and the difficulty of reaching enforceable agreements with them make Morocco Europe's main partner in the region'. For the Elysée, despite the controversies of the past, Morocco continues to be a key partner of the EU, especially in the area of migration, which could indicate that during its presidency it will work to strengthen EU ties with Rabat.
Ties with Spain could also improve after the diplomatic rift caused by Brahim Ghali's entry into the country and the subsequent migration crisis in Ceuta. At the end of December the president of the Autonomous City of Melilla, Eduardo de Castro, already opened the door to a possible reconciliation. "I consider myself optimistic about relations with Morocco and I am confident that, although there are aspects to improve, there is also a clear will for close cooperation", he declared in his Christmas speech. He also expressed his hope that in 2022 "the good relations that should always exist between neighbouring countries will be restored". However, the replacement of Arancha González Laya by José Manuel Albares as Foreign Minister was already an important step towards developing a rapprochement.