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Morocco's New Africa Policy? The African Union, Algeria, and Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy

Vish Sakthivel

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

July 22, 2016

This past Sunday, Morocco made a surprise move by sending a delegation to the African Union (AU) -- the transnational union charged with encouraging African nations' solidarity and the politico-economic integration of the full continent. Leaving the organization over 30 years ago, it has been the only nonmember nation in Africa. King Mohammed VI of Morocco, in his official request to be reinstated in a letter to the AU chairperson affirmed, “The time has come for Morocco to find its organic place within the African Union.” Ahead of this request the small North African kingdom is also attempting a measured rapprochement with its regional rival, Algeria. The results remain to be seen, and should be watched.

Morocco left the AU in protest in 1984 after the supranational body recognized the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (RASD, as it is known by its French acronym). RASD controls part of the Western Sahara east of the disputed region’s dividing wall (the berm). Morocco has laid claim to the Western Sahara since 1975, while RASD (with Algeria's backing) aims to end the Morocco presence (which many call an occupation) in the disputed region. Morocco would like to rejoin the AU on the condition that the RASD’s membership is suspended...

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