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The Latest Phony ‘Peace’ Deal Is Stoking Conflict

Mitchell Plitnick examines the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara:

The agreement with Morocco combines the worst of both the Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain and the agreement with Sudan. It also tramples on international law, and provides yet another example of the Trump administration paying far more than necessary for a meager gain.

The Morocco deal may be the tawdriest and ugliest of the various agreements that the Trump administration has announced over the last few months. In exchange for some modest concessions (liaison offices, direct flights, etc.) to Israel, the U.S. has made a major change in policy and abandoned a position it has held for decades at the expense of an oppressed people. The Trump administration has endorsed another illegal occupation, further making a mockery of our government’s claims to respect international law and the principle of self-determination. The U.S. has paid a high price for very little, and the U.S. itself will receive nothing except well-deserved opprobrium. It is hardly a triumph of diplomacy to give one state everything it could possibly want while obtaining nothing for one’s own country.

The Trump administration has absurdly described this latest agreement as another “peace” deal, but in this case in particular its immediate consequence is likely to be more conflict. The Financial Timesreports:

A forgotten conflict on the fringes of the Sahara desert is heating up — and Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed territory is set to make it worse.

Fighting had already resumed last month, and now the conflict seems all but guaranteed to intensify. The change in U.S. policy will likely make it much harder to resolve the conflict now that Morocco’s claim has the backing of Washington. While escalation into a larger war less likely, it is possible that the Trump administration’s move will have serious destabilizing effects on the surrounding region:

“For now, this is a low-intensity conflict but it could escalate,” said a western diplomat. “Algeria could at some point join the battle to support Polisario. We are talking here about the risk of a regional conflict.”

Trump’s reckless decision to recognize Moroccan sovereignty is truly dangerous, and Biden would do well to reverse it as soon as possible. The costs to the U.S., the Sahrawi people, and the rest of the region are too high, and there are no benefits for the U.S. in any case. The administration’s normalization deals are fueling arms races and stoking conflict, and the Moroccan deal is a particularly shameful example of that.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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