Connect with us

Strictly Personal

Morocco Should Reconsider Alliance with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Last Wednesday, June 13, Moroccans were disheartened to see their country lose the race to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Millions of Moroccans were aware that the Morocco 2026 bid could not compare to the joint proposal of the US, Canada, and Mexico, known as United 2026, in terms of existing infrastructure

Published

on

Last Wednesday, June 13, Moroccans were disheartened to see their country lose the race to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Millions of Moroccans were aware that the Morocco 2026 bid could not compare to the joint proposal of the US, Canada, and Mexico, known as United 2026, in terms of existing infrastructure. However, they were hopeful Morocco would create a surprise and win a majority of votes.

The Moroccan people pinned their hopes on the organization of the World Cup as an opportunity to boost Morocco’s economy, resulting in the creation of more than 100,000 jobs.

What Moroccans did not expect was that a country considered hitherto as a “brotherly” country and one of Morocco’s most strategic allies would betray them in the most brazen manner. Saudi Arabia left no stone unturned to prevent Morocco from organizing the World Cup. It not only announced support for the United 2026 bid, but intensified its efforts to persuade other countries to vote against Morocco.

What happened in Moscow and the power play that has been taking place in Saudi Arabia since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince last June indicates that the relations between Morocco and Saudi and Arabia have taken a new turn.

The time has come for Morocco to officially and unequivocally announce its withdrawal from the Saudi-led coalition to oust the Houthi rebels in Yemen. At first, Morocco’s involvement stemmed from its belief that the war would be limited to air strikes lasting a short period of time.

Morocco’s participation was predicated on the premise that whatever harms the Saudis and Emiratis also harms Moroccans and vice-versa and that the strategic interests of the Saudis align with Morocco’s strategic interests.

However, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were not only fighting the Houthi rebel group, but also devastating the country as a whole while committing war crimes against the Yemeni people. The two countries are playing a dangerous game in Yemen and in other countries; they have a subversive agenda and seek to destabilize all the countries that do not fall in line with it.

For example, after Morocco supported them in their war against the Houthis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE expected Morocco to side with them in their brazen blockade of Qatar. But Morocco acted wisely and decided to remain neutral, offering to help the opposing parties overcome their crisis.

Morocco’s decision to remain neutral was intentional. It reflects a new direction in Morocco’s foreign policy towards making decisions independently of Saudi Arabia.

The votes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain against the Moroccan World Cup bid were clearly meant to punish Morocco’s decision to remain neutral in the Gulf crisis and act independently.

The new orientation of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy under Mohammed bin Salman’s leadership is worrisome and risks plunging the whole Middle East and North Africa region into chaos and turmoil.

Morocco should by no means be associated with a country accused of committing war crimes in Yemen and of starving civilians there. Neither should Morocco be associated with the subversive agenda of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the whole Arab world, be it in Qatar, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, or Syria.

To achieve this goal, the first step that Morocco should take is to withdraw completely from any alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. No more Moroccan men should die to defend these countries. No more decision should be made to please the Saudis or Emiratis.

Morocco should never follow these two countries’ foreign policy agenda, which is mainly inspired and manipulated by the Washington-based right-wing research center “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” (FDD). This is the same think tank that helped orchestrate the Saudi-Emirati media campaign against Qatar since 2011.

The center recommends policies for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to adopt in the Arab world. The think tank was also behind the frenetic media and political campaign to convince the American president and his entourage to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

This center and its financiers have one main goal: to achieve regime change in Iran and prevent Iran from acquiring the atomic bomb. One of the biggest financiers of the center is Sheldon Adelson, who serves first and foremost the Israeli agenda. Adelson was a major donor to President Trump’s presidential campaign, and was behind his decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

There are many reasons why Mohammed bin Salman considers Trump his first patron, which led him to betray Morocco. In addition to gaining U.S. support that helped Mohammed bin Salman seize power, Saudi Arabia’s goal is to convince the United States to overthrow the regime in Iran, which would be difficult and even impossible, given the strength of Iran.

The decision to take a confrontational stance against Iran was not made in Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, but in Washington, D.C. It was made and promoted by the FDD whose backers and experts make the reckless Saudi and Emirati leaders believe that the right path to challenge Iran’s subversive agenda in the region is to provoke regime change.

FDD’s ultimate goal is not to achieve the well-being and perennial stability of these two countries, but to eventually enable Israel to have the upper hand in the whole region. But the Saudis and the Emiratis take the bait.

In addition, Saudi Arabia lavishes billions on Trump and on many research centers, and lobbies to distract Americans from the JASTA Law enacted by the US Congress less than two years ago. The law gives the families of American victims of 9/11 the possibility to sue the Saudi government for its involvement in the terrorist attacks.

Moreover, Morocco, for which one of Jerusalem’s gates holds the name of its people “Moroccans’ Gate,” should not be linked to any policies aiming at abandoning the Palestinian people and betraying them in order to help the 32-year-old Saudi prince consolidate his power.

However, this does not mean that Morocco should enter into a tug-of-war with these countries. Rather, it must deal with them in a wise and pragmatic way, making foreign policy decisions that serve its strategic interests and that preserve its dignity and the dignity of its people.

Morocco’s bilateral relations with these countries should be built on mutual respect and mutual interest, rather than on empty slogans, blackmail, and provocations.

Commentator…Culled from Morocco World News

Strictly Personal

Air Peace, capitalism and national interest, By Dakuku Peterside

Published

on

Nigerian corporate influence and that of the West continue to collide. The rationale is straightforward: whereas corporate activity in Europe and America is part of their larger local and foreign policy engagement, privately owned enterprises in Nigeria or commercial interests are not part of Nigeria’s foreign policy ecosystem, neither is there a strong culture of government support for privately owned enterprises’ expansion locally and internationally.

The relationship between Nigerian businesses and foreign policy is important to the national interest. When backing domestic Nigerian companies to compete on a worldwide scale, the government should see it as a lever to drive foreign policy, and national strategic interest, promote trade, enhance national security considerations, and minimize distortion in the domestic market as the foreign airlines were doing, boost GDP, create employment opportunities, and optimize corporate returns for the firms.

Admitted nations do not always interfere directly in their companies’ business and commercial dealings, and there are always exceptions. I can cite two areas of exception: military sales by companies because of their strategic implications and are, therefore, part of foreign and diplomatic policy and processes. The second is where the products or routes of a company have implications for foreign policy. Air Peace falls into the second category in the Lagos – London route.

Two events demonstrate an emerging trend that, if not checked, will disincentivize Nigerian firms from competing in the global marketplace. There are other notable examples, but I am using these two examples because they are very recent and ongoing, and they are typological representations of the need for Nigerian government backing and support for local companies that are playing in a very competitive international market dominated by big foreign companies whose governments are using all forms of foreign policies and diplomacy to support and sustain.

The first is Air Peace. It is the only Nigerian-owned aviation company playing globally and checkmating the dominance of foreign airlines. The most recent advance is the commencement of flights on the Lagos – London route. In Nigeria, foreign airlines are well-established and accustomed to a lack of rivalry, yet a free-market economy depends on the existence of competition. Nigeria has significantly larger airline profits per passenger than other comparable African nations. Insufficient competition has resulted in high ticket costs and poor service quality. It is precisely this jinx that Air Peace is attempting to break.

On March 30, 2024, Air Peace reciprocated the lopsided Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, between Nigeria and the United Kingdom when the local airline began direct flight operations from Lagos to Gatwick Airport in London. This elicited several reactions from foreign airlines backed by their various sovereigns because of their strategic interest. A critical response is the commencement of a price war. Before the Air Peace entry, the price of international flight tickets on the Lagos-London route had soared to as much as N3.5 million for the  economy ticket. However, after Air Peace introduced a return economy class ticket priced at N1.2 million, foreign carriers like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways reduced their fares significantly to remain competitive.

In a price war, there is little the government can do. In an open-market competitive situation such as this, our government must not act in a manner that suggests it is antagonistic to foreign players and competitors. There must be an appearance of a level playing field. However, government owes Air Peace protection against foreign competitors backed by their home governments. This is in the overall interest of the Nigerian consumer of goods and services. Competition history in the airspace works where the Consumer Protection Authority in the host country is active. This is almost absent in Nigeria and it is a reason why foreign airlines have been arbitrary in pricing their tickets. Nigerian consumers are often at the mercy of these foreign firms who lack any vista of patriotism and are more inclined to protect the national interest of their governments and countries.

It would not be too much to expect Nigerian companies playing globally to benefit from the protection of the Nigerian government to limit influence peddling by foreign-owned companies. The success of Air Peace should enable a more competitive and sustainable market, allowing domestic players to grow their network and propel Nigeria to the forefront of international aviation.

The second is Proforce, a Nigerian-owned military hardware manufacturing firm active in Rwanda, Chad, Mali, Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, and South Sudan. Despite the growing capacity of Proforce in military hardware manufacturing, Nigeria entered two lopsided arrangements with two UAE firms to supply military equipment worth billions of dollars , respectively. Both deals are backed by the UAE government but executed by UAE firms.

These deals on a more extensive web are not unconnected with UAE’s national strategic interest. In pursuit of its strategic national interest, India is pushing Indian firms to supply military equipment to Nigeria. The Nigerian defence equipment market has seen weaker indigenous competitors driven out due to the combination of local manufacturers’ lack of competitive capacity and government patronage of Asian, European, and US firms in the defence equipment manufacturing sector. This is a misnomer and needs to be corrected.

Not only should our government be the primary customer of this firm if its products meet international standards, but it should also support and protect it from the harsh competitive realities of a challenging but strategic market directly linked to our national military procurement ecosystem. The ability to produce military hardware locally is significant to our defence strategy.

This firm and similar companies playing in this strategic defence area must be considered strategic and have a considerable place in Nigeria’s foreign policy calculations. Protecting Nigeria’s interests is the primary reason for our engagement in global diplomacy. The government must deliberately balance national interest with capacity and competence in military hardware purchases. It will not be too much to ask these foreign firms to partner with local companies so we can embed the technology transfer advantages.

Our government must create an environment that enables our local companies to compete globally and ply their trades in various countries. It should be part of the government’s overall economic, strategic growth agenda to identify areas or sectors in which Nigerian companies have a competitive advantage, especially in the sub-region and across Africa and support the companies in these sectors to advance and grow to dominate in  the African region with a view to competing globally. Government support in the form of incentives such as competitive grants ,tax credit for consumers ,low-interest capital, patronage, G2G business, operational support, and diplomatic lobbying, amongst others, will alter the competitive landscape. Governments  and key government agencies in the west retain the services of lobbying firms in pursuit of its strategic interest.

Nigerian firms’ competitiveness on a global scale can only be enhanced by the support of the Nigerian government. Foreign policy interests should be a key driver of Nigerian trade agreements. How does the Nigerian government support private companies to grow and compete globally? Is it intentionally mapping out growth areas and creating opportunities for Nigerian firms to maximize their potential? Is the government at the domestic level removing bottlenecks and impediments to private company growth, allowing a level playing field for these companies to compete with international companies?

Why is the government patronising foreign firms against local firms if their products are of similar value? Why are Nigerian consumers left to the hands of international companies in some sectors without the government actively supporting the growth of local firms to compete in those sectors? These questions merit honest answers. Nigerian national interest must be the driving factor for our foreign policies, which must cover the private sector, just as is the case with most developed countries. The new global capitalism is not a product of accident or chance; the government has choreographed and shaped it by using foreign policies to support and protect local firms competing globally. Nigeria must learn to do the same to build a strong economy with more jobs.

Continue Reading

Strictly Personal

This is chaos, not governance, and we must stop it, By Tee Ngugi

Published

on

The following are stories that have dominated mainstream media in recent times. Fake fertiliser and attempts by powerful politicians to kill the story. A nation of bribes, government ministries and corporations where the vice is so routine that it has the semblance of policy. Irregular spending of billions in Nairobi County.

 

Billions are spent in all countries on domestic and foreign travel. Grabbing of land belonging to state corporations, was a scam reminiscent of the Kanu era when even public toilets would be grabbed. Crisis in the health and education sectors.

 

Tribalism in hiring for state jobs. Return of construction in riparian lands and natural waterways. Relocation of major businesses because of high cost of power and heavy taxation. A tax regime that is so punitive, it squeezes life out of small businesses. Etc, ad nauseam.

 

To be fair, these stories of thievery, mismanagement, negligence, incompetence and greed have been present in all administrations since independence.

 

However, instead of the cynically-named “mama mboga” government reversing this gradual slide towards state failure, it is fuelling it.

 

Alternately, it’s campaigning for 2027 or gallivanting all over the world, evoking the legend of Emperor Nero playing the violin as Rome burned.

 

A government is run based on strict adherence to policies and laws. It appoints the most competent personnel, irrespective of tribe, to run efficient departments which have clear-cut goals.

 

It aligns education to its national vision. Its strategies to achieve food security should be driven by the best brains and guided by innovative policies. It enacts policies that attract investment and incentivize building of businesses. It treats any kind of thievery or negligence as sabotage.

 

Government is not a political party. Government officials should have nothing to do with political party matters. They should be so engaged in their government duties that they literally would not have time for party issues. Government jobs should not be used to reward girlfriends and cronies.

 

Government is exhausting work undertaken because of a passion to transform lives, not for the trappings of power. Government is not endless campaigning to win the next election. To his credit, Mwai Kibaki left party matters alone until he had to run for re-election.

 

We have corrupted the meaning of government. We have parliamentarians beholden to their tribes, not to ideas.

 

We have incompetent and corrupt judges. We have a civil service where you bribe to be served. Police take bribes to allow death traps on our roads. We have urban planners who plan nothing except how to line their pockets. We have regulatory agencies that regulate nothing, including the intake of their fat stomachs.

 

We have advisers who advise on which tenders should go to whom. There is no central organising ethos at the heart of government. There is no sense of national purpose. We have flurries of national activities, policies, legislation, appointments which don’t lead to meaningful growth. We just run on the same spot.

 

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator

Continue Reading

EDITOR’S PICK

Metro2 hours ago

Educationist challenges media freedom norms, cautions against misuse of freedom of expression

Geshom Banda, Deputy Head Teacher at Hillside Primary School, presents a contrasting perspective amidst discussions on media freedom and digital...

Metro5 hours ago

Nigerian govt shuts Chinese supermarket over ‘no-Nigerian shopper’ allegation

Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has shut down a Chinese store in Abuja, the country’s capital, because it...

Metro7 hours ago

Nigeria: President Tinubu identifies illegal mining as source of terrorism financing

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has identified illegal mining activities as a major source of terrorism financing in the country and...

VenturesNow8 hours ago

Nigeria wants $2.25 billion World Bank loan

Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Wale Edun, has revealed that the country is seeking up to $2.25 billion in World Bank loans...

Video9 hours ago

‘Complex, contentious,’ media enthusiast says media rights often depend on goodwill of political leadership (video)

Kitwe Press Club spokesperson, Michael Kaluba, has described the media landscape in Zambia as complex and contentious. In a conversation...

Tech21 hours ago

UN signs MoU with Kenya’s Konza Technopolis

The United Nations has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenya’s Konza Technopolis that will provide a wide range...

Culture21 hours ago

Ghana mourns as top gospel music icon Koda passes away

The Ghanaian entertainment industry has, once again, been thrown into mourning following the death of renowned gospel musician, Kofi Owusu...

Sports21 hours ago

South African club admits they can’t keep Nwabali

Chairman of South African club side, Chippa United, Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi, has given up on retaining the services of Super...

Metro21 hours ago

Chinsali youth advocates broadening of access to information to impact rural areas

Joseph Mulenga, a 24-year-old carpenter from Chinsali District in Muchinga Province, has spoken on the necessity of broadening access to...

Politics22 hours ago

African leaders seek change in fight against terrorism at Nigerian summit   

At a security summit in Nigeria, African leaders have called for a revamp of institutions that fight violent extremism on...

Trending