In December of 2020, the White House announced the Israel–Morocco normalization agreement. In January USAID announced Morocco is being designated an economic hub under its Prosper Africa Initiative. According to this deal, Morocco is to get $100 million per year for five years to promote two-way trade between Morocco and the US, and to strengthen strategic ties. Underneath, USAID will serve to manage the neocolonial piracy of another African nation and the eradication of another people, Sahrawi. the means “Inhabitant of the Desert”
Before I jump off into the “deal”, I hope every reader already understands that geopolitics is all about business. Idealism aside, the developments in Morocco show clearly how the world got into the mess it’s in today. Another bribe has been put, over and under the table, so that the several parties can steamroll under competing resistance, to steal the legacy of the people. At the heart of the Israel normalization bamboozle smooshed into existence by former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, the slum lord Jared Kushner, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are billions and billions in profit. What else?
Gas, Profit, Gas, Profit, Gas, Gas, Gas!
While American citizens shriek in fear that the new president will let their gas prices go up, a big chunk of the $100 million per year of taxpayer money will go to Morocco business types, and to buying sophisticated MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones for the North African county’s military. So, indirectly I suppose, Americans working at General Atomics in California get a paycheck from this latest US/Israel brokered deal. But the cost to people in Western Sahara and even Morocco proper will be devastating. Let me spotlight one American company, and then the reader can do the multiplication.
It’s important to note here, that the fifth-largest defense contractor in America grew up out of investments by big oil, namely Dutch Royal Shell and more recently Chevron. Today, the company is owned by billionaires and Yale Skull and Bones frat brothers Neal and Linden Blue. I’ve no time or space for diving into their history of intrigue and their power network, let’s just say the biggest of the big money stands behind them. So, relax and know, that the engine of American progress is still churning.
To make things clearer, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, commenting on the Israel normalization deal saying; “Today is a wonderful day for Morocco and Israel… I’ve long advocated that if the United States is unequivocal and clear that we stand with our Israeli allies and against our mutual enemies, our regional allies will come together to the benefit of our national security and the safety of the American people.” Cruz, of course, receives more campaign funding from employees of defense contractors than and politician in his party.
Another US Senator, Jim Inhofe lambasted the Trump administration for recognizing Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara describing the deal as “shocking and deeply disappointing,” and saying he was “saddened that the rights of the Western Saharan people have been traded away.” So, there is some glimmer of hope that at least somebody understands the truth of this mess. But the policy remains the same. I include as many politicians, hegemonic ideas, and corporations as I can, to construct for you the bitter sadness of this Western Sahara tragedy.
I am reminded of the wonderful poet Mohamed Mustafa Mohamed Salem (Badi), now deceased, who wept when he returned to his native land from his Algerian refugee exile. Or, as he related before he died, his childhood recollections of the “sound of the swishing of camels’ tails / before the sun has risen to our eyeline”. Or, the feel of “the wet sand” on which he slept “at the mouth of a well”; and the taste of his tea, flavored with desert herbs. Read here brothers and sisters, and weep for our world ground asunder for the sake of business traditions. Our time and all our traditions are forgotten at the pump, or when we switch on the light.
Postcards from Make Believe Policy Land
Meanwhile, the benefactors of the Western Sahara betrayal have their PR firms paint lazy sunsets behind romantic fishing boats, with the foreground blessed by American tourists on flawless beaches in Western Sahara’s Dakhla. In this version, US ambassadors donned white Moroccan robes to exchange pleasantries with a gathering of dignitaries, Hollywood smiles intact and reported by the Associated Press (AP). The business/geopolitical deal of the century, broadcast subtly as a “turning point” toward luminescent prosperity. But freedom died for the Sahrawi, who will almost certainly be decreed a “terrorist group” if American and Israeli schemes in the region hold to form. And all this, in a breach of international law according to the United Nations (UN). Please be advised readers, Western Sahara is one of the most inhospitable geographic environments on Earth. The interior of this place is 47 °C or 117 °F in the shade in summer. Rainfall there is 35 millimeters per year. It”s true that the beaches seem mild comparatively, but there is no infrastructure.
The real issue in the Western Sahara debacle is, as always, natural resources. In this case, an easily anticipated one, offshore oil and natural gas reserves the US, France, and other interested parties want, and a non-conventional resource, the sun. There is no agriculture in Western Sahara, there’s not enough rain. There is no tourism, few people would ever even consider going there. Other resources are unimportant, the country only has phosphate deposits to count as value. And clearly, the people who live there are even less important. The key to understanding this deal can be seen by decoding a leaked State Department cable where Morocco’s subsidizing of this otherwise unsustainable region was described as nothing but a burden on Morocco. The cable included a line that said “even if” Western Sahara offshore oil and gas were discovered, Morocco would not profit enough to maintain the citizens of the region. And with his the question of “why then?” arises.
France’s Total and America’s Kerr-McGee (remember Karen Silkwood) started exploration offshore back in the early 2000s. Total and the American company pulled out, officially, when the UN deemed the exploration to be “in violation of the principles of international law.” Recently, Morocco has sold offshore drilling permits to US explorer Kosmos Energy, Britain’s Cairn Energy, and others. But Moroccan proposed and funded solar projects, and new gas discoveries onshore are by far the most interesting deal twisters here. Let me address the solar energy teaser first.
The Global Warming Business Heats Up
There are those who propose transforming the entire Sahara into a gigantic solar farm. And this is probably a wise decision given global warming and waning fossil fuel reserves outside Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. However, a hidden investment in solar that steals from the indigenous people of Western Sahara, was put in motion by Morrocco some years back. Now, in an offshoot of the successful NOOR energy project the Morroco government has put in place a plan to build solar sites, including in occupied Western Sahara. The tender announced back in December 2020, is for nine photovoltaic solar power plants with a combined capacity of 400 MW under the header “NOOR PV II”. Two of the new sites are in occupied areas. Opponents to the Moroccan occupation say Western Sahara could end up providing 40 percent of Morocco’s energy in the future. Such plans go outside UN resolutions, which have no meaning whatsoever for Washington or Tel Aviv. But, PBS News Hour frames it all with “Morocco turns the Sahara desert into a solar energy oasis.” Moving on to rumors of oil and gas Total and other companies once said did not exist.
San Leon Energy, I’ll bet no one reading this ever heard of them. Well, it turns out this Irish company just found oil at the Tarfaya Onshore block located onshore in the northwestern part of Western Sahara (22 billion barrels so far). And further onshore prospects will probably come to light soon since this part of North Africa has not seen extensive oil and gas exploration, ever. Finally, new leases in the Cap Boujdour Area off of Western Sahara’s coast, are the most promising considering the geology. My guess is, someone has already made a big unpublished discovery here, and onshore in east-central Western Sahara. Salt tectonics and political gyrations considered, the new Morocco bribe took place as a deal, surely, instead of a humanitarian/peace initiative.
Also, there’s the wind farms and the profit from supplying more of Morocco’s much-needed energy. The country, you see, imports almost all of its power from other nations. Germany’s Siemens has already been in a row with the UN and NGOs over this. There’s the iron ore nobody mentions Western Sahara possessing. The cement operations in El Aaiun, run by the Swiss. The Netherlands and a sub-sea telecom cable project, the French desalinization projects, the Italian wind parks, and scores of other interests found favor when America and Israel authenticated Morocco’s Western Sahara takeover bid. There’s the copper, the uranium, and untolled riches even the UN is not speaking of in this region of our world.
And it seems as if everybody, and I mean everybody from San Diego, where the reaper drones are made, to the almost eradicated ISIS gets something out of this geopolitical soup sandwich in Western Sahara. That is, with the obvious exception of the Sahrawi people. Yes, French people, German people, American people, British people, Dutch people, Norwegian fish sellers, even Irish oil seekers stand to gain from USAID toward utter democracy. While the natives always, always, always seem to suffer as an afterthought. Western Sahara is just another episode of manifest destiny, the great excuse for the ultimate injustice.
To conclude, Sahrawi means “Inhabitant of the Desert”, which is all there is in Western Sahara. These are the people who only live in this region. These are the people America just abandoned to the global profit mongers. And these are the only people with the right to live in their homeland, barren as it is. Interestingly, it was these same people who once forged vast empires. And in this, there’s a poignant lesson to be learned about Karma. Now that there is profit to be made, their fate is sealed.
Now there’s a USAID poster campaign for you. Sponsored by the state of Israel and big energy.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”