In a historic speech in the Senegalese capital Dakar Sunday, Moroccan King Mohammed VI laid out his country’s commitment to the continent of Africa, and strategy of integration and support for the aspirations of its people.
The occasion was the 41st anniversary of the “Green March,” when the king’s late father, Hassan II, reclaimed Saharan territory from Spain with which Moroccan families and traditions have been deeply interwoven for centuries. Since that time, the kingdom has poured billions into the area’s development and integrated its cities and towns into the national economy and political system. The Moroccan Sahara offers a development model for newly empowered, ambitious states to its south. Yet over the same period of time — largely as a lingering result of Cold War alignments long since obsolete — myriad African nations supported the Polisario militia, which laid claim to the territory. The fighters enjoyed support from neighboring, oil-rich Algeria, which effectively gerrymandered a majority of impoverished states in the “African Union” to ensure their opposition to Morocco. The kingdom, for its part, opted out of the organization, which it judged to be rigged.
Morocco has renewed its commitment to the continent and rejoined the African Union. King Mohammed VI has toured Africa fifteen times since assuming the throne in 1999; invested in its human development, education, economy, and security; and developed his own ports, industries, and human networks to serve as an African way-station for American and European parties wishing to invest in Africa.