The Saharawi Polisario Front fought a 16-year war against Morocco and Mauritania for an independent Western Sahara, which ended in a UN-brokered peace and a promise of an independence referendum that hasn’t come. Until recently the US supported it, but has now prioritized shoring up international support for Israel.
The Biden administration won’t be changing course on former US President Donald Trump’s December 2020 decision to recognize Morocco’s claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara. The news comes amid reports Morocco’s chief diplomat plans to attend a conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s largest lobby in the US.
Sources familiar with a Friday phone call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told Axios that while a State Department readout of the call doesn’t mention Western Sahara, the two discussed the topic and Blinken said the administration wasn’t looking to change existing US policy on it at the moment.
The closest thing mentioned in the readout says Blinken “welcomed Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and noted the Morocco-Israel relationship will bring long-term benefits for both countries.”
Bourita to Court Israeli Lobby
The news comes amid reports that Bourita is attending a May 6 event hosted by the AIPAC in what is likely an attempt to further shore up support from the Biden administration after an ambiguous move by Washington at a recent United Nations meeting on Western Sahara.
According to Morocco World News, AIPAC has invited Bourita to be a “distinguished guest” at the May 6 Mid-Atlantic Spring Program, which is being held online in lieu of its annual Washington, DC, conference that was cancelled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first time a Moroccan senior official has attended as a guest of honor.
The event will reportedly be attended by a number of prominent US and Israeli figures, including Israeli infrastructure minister Yuval Steinitz; the Israeli Defense Ministry’s politico-military affairs director, Zohar Palti; and Binyamin Zomer, Director of Corporate Affairs at Noble Energy, who was previously AIPAC’s deputy director of policy and government affairs.