Morocco has reportedly broken its neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine war by becoming the first African country to provide military assistance to Ukraine.
Though Morocco has not officially confirmed the transaction, they have reportedly agreed to provide 90 T-72 tanks as well as spare parts to Ukraine in a $97 million dollar contract being paid for by the US and the Netherlands.
The transfer of the tanks was reportedly requested by the US. African media opted for the stronger description that Morocco "has apparently succumbed to pressures from the United States," explaining that "The United States has secretly convince Morocco to deliver modernized T-72B tanks, and spare parts to Kiev." Le Journal L’Afrique says “In the greatest secrecy, [the US] managed to convince Rabat to deliver spare parts for T-72 armored vehicles to Kyiv.”
The US considers Morocco a major strategic ally and has reportedly "exerted pressure on Morocco to adopt a clear position on the conflict and to take a side." In April, Morocco accepted a US invitation to attend a 43 nation high-level military summit on how more support can be given to Ukraine.
The US and Europe are having an increasingly difficult time coming up with weapons and ammunition to supply Ukraine. General Valery Zaluzhny, the head of the Ukrainian armed forces, recently told The Economist that the British Chief of Defense told him that Europe "will have nothing to live on if you fire that many shells." So, they have looked elsewhere.
It is hard not to see Morocco’s hypocrisy. They are arming Ukraine to defend the principle that one nation cannot invade another and annex territory: precisely what Morocco has done.
More than forty-five ago, as Western Sahara was on the verge of winning its independence from colonial Spain, Morocco changed its borders by force and made Western Sahara part of Morocco. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco and an authority on Morocco’s occupation, told me many years ago that he knows of no police state worse or more repressive than Moroccan occupied Sahara. Both the UN and the International Court of Justice have ruled in favor of Western Sahara’s right to self-governance.
It is hard not to notice that Morocco is arming Ukraine to fight Russia for doing the very same thing Morocco did to Western Sahara.
But it is not Morocco alone that is being hypocritical. The US has insisted that a key reason for opposing Russia is the defense of the principle that one country cannot change the borders of another by force.
But the US has officially recognized Western Sahara as part of Morocco. Since the Trump administration made that decision, the Biden administration has done nothing to reverse it. The US, along with France, has consistently thwarted the UN’s ability to act on its resolutions in favor of Western Sarah self-governance.
The Biden administration has remained silent on Western Sahara, neither officially confirming nor repealing Trump’s recognition. Zunes told me in a recent correspondence that, unlike most maps, including Google, Rand McNally and National Geographic, all US government maps “show no demarcation between the two countries – it’s all Morocco. And State Department and other USG [US government] reports, which used to list Western Sahara as a separate entity, simply refer to it as part of Morocco.” The Biden administration’s recognition of Morocco’s annexation is “in direct defiance of a series of UNSC resolutions and opinions by the International Court of Justice, which see them as territories under foreign belligerent occupation,” Zunes said.
Exerting pressure on Morocco to take a clear position against Russia’s invasion and annexation, and pressuring them to send tanks to Ukraine is hypocritical on the part of a Biden administration that is overlooking and excusing just such behavior on the part of Morocco.
Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.