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Morocco and Sub-Saharan Africa: In the Shadow of the Western Sahara Dispute

Michael B. Bishku


During much of the past several decades, Moroccan actions in Western Sahara have impacted on that country’s bilateral and multilateral ties, especially with other countries in Africa, though to a lesser degree in the Arab world. In recent years, Morocco has gained the upper hand in its conflict in Western Sahara and has been increasing its political and economic footprint on the continent of Africa, an area of interest since independence. At the same time, Morocco has regarded itself as a “gateway” to Africa for the USA and Europe, while the USA, France (and the Gulf states) have provided military and financial assistance as well as diplomatic support for Morocco as that country’s policies have served Western interests. While attention is given by academics in recent years to the involvement in Africa of other middle powers from the Middle East such as Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia and, in the past, of Nasser’s Egypt and Qaddafi’s Libya, as well as Israel, Morocco has not stirred the same sort of interest. This article seeks to address that issue by examining all political and economic factors that have influenced Moroccan policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, those both connected and unconnected with the issue of the Western Sahara dispute.

Keywords: Morocco, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Sahara, foreign relations, trade, foreign direct investment

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pp. 273–289