The Growing Alliance between Israel and Morocco

In September, Belkhir el-Farouk, the commander of the Moroccan armed forces, came to Israel to take part in an international conference of senior military leaders, hosted by the IDF. Just a few months beforehand, Farouk had met with his Israeli counterpart in Morocco. These meetings are just two signs among many of increasing closeness between Jerusalem and Rabat in the wake of the renewal of diplomatic relations following the signing of the Abraham Accords. Eran Lerman explains the reasons for this alignment, and its historical backdrop:

Following the Oslo Accords (1993) and the [Israeli] peace treaty with Jordan (1994), Morocco moved to establish reciprocal diplomatic legations [with the Jewish state, although not at the level of embassies]. A steady flow of visits by Israelis—many of them of Moroccan origin—and growing trade were added to the intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Even after formal relations were severed again due to the outbreak of Palestinian violence in the autumn of 2000, tens of thousands of Israelis continued to visit every year, and military cooperation, including arms supplies, continued.

Beyond that, the new Moroccan constitution of 2011 references the Jewish component of Moroccan cultural identity. . . . The Jewish Museum in Casablanca is the only one of its kind in the Arab world. Cultural exchanges and participation in sports events were already taking place before the Abraham Accords’ breakthrough.

Still, it is the dynamic development of security cooperation, ever since the formal establishment of relations, which has set the agenda. The steps already taken, and set to expand further, are unprecedented in scope and significance and, in some respects, exceed even the parallel progress in Israeli relations with the UAE and Bahrain. Both countries are concerned about Iran’s ambitions in the region: Morocco cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2018 due to the involvement of Iranian government agents in supporting the Polisario Front.

Originally backed by the USSR, and now by Algeria and Iran, the Polisario Front has been conducting a guerrilla campaign against the Moroccan government for the independence of Western Sahara, a disputed territory Rabat claims as its own. This conflict, Lerman explains, places Morocco and Israel on one side, and Iran and an increasingly anti-Israel Algeria on the other.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Morocco

 

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy