Making the Most of Israel’s Renewed Relations with Morocco

On December 10, 2020, following on the heels of the Abraham Accords, Jerusalem and Rabat concluded an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations, reviving and expanding the low-level ties that emerged during the 1990s and were broken off during the second intifada. Simultaneously, the Moroccan government has invested in establishing Jewish museums—inaugurating two this year—and preserving historical Jewish sites. Pro-Palestinian sentiment nonetheless remains high in the country, and King Mohammed VI sees himself as the protector of the Palestinian people. Sam Millner, Morr Link, and Ofir Winter explain, and offer some suggestions to Israeli diplomats:

Attitudes toward Judaism are rooted in a broader agenda cultivated by King Mohammed VI to promote a national identity characterized by religious, cultural, and ethnic pluralism, as documented by the country’s 2011 constitution, which stipulates that Moroccan unity “is forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamist, Berber [Amazigh], and Saharan-Hassanic components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic, and Mediterranean influences.”

The positive momentum in Israel-Morocco relations cannot be taken for granted in light of the challenges that these relations face, chief among them Morocco’s position toward the Palestinians.

Israel should capitalize on the overlapping aspects of its history with Morocco to develop bilateral relations further, especially in civilian ties: in sports, academia, arts, and culture, where people-to-people connections are paramount. This way, the countries’ shared heritage and cultural affinity could serve as a lever for enhancing dialogue and cooperation.

A final recommendation stems from a broader understanding of the Abraham Accords and the values they embody. Hardline religious discourse encumbers the ability to promote dialogue and construct mutually respectful and tolerant narratives. Israeli representatives are therefore encouraged to promote ways to engage with Moroccan discourse on religious and cultural pluralism, and consider concrete policies and activities that could advance these ideas, such as promoting dialogue and coexistence between Jews and Muslims in Israel and beyond. Such policies could increase Israel’s ability to develop ties with Arab and Muslim countries—and benefit Israeli society as well.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Morocco

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy