The U.S.-Morocco Defense Cooperation Treaty Should be Cloned To Southeast Asian Countries To Counter China

Former Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper received a salute upon his arrival at the Moroccan Ministry of Defense in Rabat, Morocco. Photo By: Jim Garamone, DOD

Morocco and the United States renewed the alliance between the two nations as a foundation stone for peace in Africa.

Morocco and the United States signed a military defence agreement on 2 October 2020 in the capital Rabat, which both parties described as “historic”.

The signing of the treaty, which has been called the ‘Roadmap for Defence Cooperation 2020-2030 between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America’,

Former Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita signed the defense cooperation road map in Rabat, Morocco. The road map charts cooperation between the two nations through 2030.

The country remains a critical partner on a range of security issues. “Now more than ever, our two nations are working closely to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment ranging from counterterrorism and other transnational threats to regional instability and broader strategic challenges,” former defense secretary Esper said. “We do this together to promote the security, the stability and the prosperity of our shared goals and our peoples.”

The goal is to continually reinforce America’s long-standing, steadfast commitment to Morocco and, by extension, to Africa, the secretary said.

Morocco is a major non-NATO ally, and the country’s strategic location makes it a gateway to Africa. “Morocco is a country we have been friends with for many, many years, and I am confident that we will remain friends and strategic partners for generations to come,” former defense secretary Esper said.

Former Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and staff meet with Moroccan military leaders at the Ministry of Defense in Rabat, Morocco. Photo By: Jim Garamone, DOD

The road map will allow the United States and Morocco to improve defense cooperation, partnerships and interoperability. One specific was the importance of Exercise African Lion, which draws participants from across the continent. “It is a key training and exercise event for many, many years, not just between the United States and Morocco,” former defense secretary Esper said.

The military agreement “serves as a road map for defense cooperation and aims to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries and support shared security goals,” according to a statement issued by the Moroccan Foreign Ministry.

The agreement centers on “consolidating common security objectives, especially improving the degree of military readiness,” a statement from the General Command of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces said.

Sea Lion Exercise in Morocco. Cpl. Chelsie Villela, a member of the Female Engagement Team with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participates in a gun shoot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). Photo US Navy

The military deal is expected to further bolster cooperation between the two countries. Washington is Morocco’s largest supplier of arms. Morocco hosts the annual U.S. military exercise called “African Lion” — canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Africa At The Heart Of Defense Treaty

In 2020, The head of the Pentagon began a tour of North Africa this week in countries such as Algeria and Tunisia to discuss the instability in the Sahel and the fight against the Jihadist groups that are spreading across northern Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Chad, southern Tunisia and Algeria, as well as the conflictive region of Lake Chad and the war in Libya.

The agreement signed between Washington and Rabat paves the way for full cooperation in the strategic military field, the acquisition of weapons and equipment, military training in all sectors and intelligence between the two countries, according to the Moroccan daily, Le 360.

Investing For The New World Order

Tensions between the U.S. and China escalated sharply between the United States and China over technology supremacy, strategic deals and the South China Sea. The barbs between the U.S. and China are expected to worsen even after the Biden Administration took power in White House.

The PRC’s aggressive behavior towards its small neighbors, debt diplomacy and bullish attitudes towards Australia, Japan, South Korea and India proved that China is not changing its course and behavior.

“Given, the Covid-19 crisis, how China handled the early stages of it and now the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong, it’s really difficult to see how the U.S. and the West and China can get back to normal,” said Jimmy Chang, chief investment strategist at Rockefeller Asset Management. “The decoupling will only gain momentum in the coming year, unless there are major policy shifts within China. At this point, it doesn’t look likely.”

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The Peterson Institute for International Economics recently published a paper that argued it would be pointless to delist Chinese companies. It noted that the integration in the financial sector looks likely to increase despite President Donald Trump’s warning that “a complete decoupling from China” remained a policy option.

U.S. financial institutions are increasing their presence in China, where authorities have been loosening rules on foreign ownership. The Peterson Institute listed examples of American companies expanding their role, including Goldman Sachs which was approved in March to raise its stake in joint venture Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities to 51%. Morgan Stanley was also given the approval to raise its stake in its joint venture securities firm, Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities, from 49% to 51%.

Can U.S. – Morocco Treaty Be Cloned To Southeast Asia?

Top defense officials from India and the United States have pledged to expand their military engagement, underscoring the strengthening defense ties between two countries concerned over China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Quad is seen as a counterweight to China, who critics say is flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Taiwan Strait and along its northern border with India.

China has called the Quad an attempt to contain its ambitions.

Austin’s Indian counterpart, Singh, said the talks were focused on “expanding military-to-military engagement.”

“We are determined to realize the full potential of comprehensive global strategic partnership,” Singh said.

President Biden meets virtually with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia in the White House on Friday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Austin arrived in New Delhi on Friday and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi “outlined his vision for the strategic partnership between the two countries and emphasized the important role of bilateral defense cooperation in India-U.S. ties.”

The U.S. and India have steadily ramped up their military relationship in recent years and signed a string of defense deals and deepened military cooperation. In 2019, the two sides concluded defense deals worth over $3 billion. Bilateral defense trade increased from near zero in 2008 to $15 billion in 2019.

President Biden is building on the previous administration’s efforts to solidify the strategic partnership as he formulates his approach to China. Biden’s push for the first-ever meeting of leaders so early in the administration signals that the Quad will become a central part of the U.S. strategy in Asia, experts say.

The U.S. can put more pressure on China if it is willing to expand bilateral trade, military cooperation and defense export to Indian Ocean countries that have a dire need for military modernization and highly dependent on the Chinese line of credit to buy poor quality military hardware from China. In return, China coerces these small nations to submit to the Chinese domain and support its bullish behavior in the Indo-Pacific regions.

The Maldives is the only country in the Indo-Pacific region that has signed defense cooperation treaty with the United States. The only way, the United States to handle Chinese pressure on these countries to sign U.S.-Morocco styled defense cooperation treaty with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and East Timor.

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