The Moroccan city of El Ayoun has witnessed the announcement of the first digital platform (Laayouneconnect.com) aimed at the territorial revaluation of the Moroccan Sahara region. This US-funded initiative aims to connect private sector companies with Moroccan and foreign investors through a search engine that allows to find and determine the geographical location of companies according to different variables such as their sectors of activity or the interests of each of them.
Mohammed Jaafar, director general of the Regional Investment Centre, presided over the ceremony. He was accompanied by the regional director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the US Embassy in Rabat, Taylor Joyner, as well as important figures in the Moroccan economy. This boost to the Sahrawi economy is a further sign of the United States' firm stance on the Moroccan ownership of Western Sahara, strengthening ties that have been further strengthened by the opening of the Israeli Embassy in the Moroccan capital.
The relationship between the three countries was greatly enhanced by the signing of the Abraham Accords just over a year ago. The recognition of Morocco's authority over Western Sahara in late 2020 by Donald Trump was another important step in Washington's rapprochement with Rabat, which has recently improved its ties with Israel with the appointment of David Govrin as the new ambassador to the capital. Yair Lapid, the Israeli foreign minister, announced during his last visit to the Alawi kingdom that 'relations will be upgraded' between Israel and Morocco.
The project to boost the Sahrawi economy is just one of the steps the US and the Kingdom intend to take. The US Under Secretary of State for the Middle East, Joey Hood, believes that 'Morocco is the only country in Africa with which we have a Free Trade Agreement, and we and our companies see Morocco as a gateway to the continent'. Washington particularly values Morocco's strategic location and does not want to miss the opportunity to reach out to the country led by Aziz Ajanuch at a delicate moment after the breakdown of diplomatic relations with Algeria.
Last month, during the anniversary of the Abraham Accords, the three parties assured that they were willing to continue improving relations. Indeed, Morocco has already approached Israel for the acquisition of kamikaze drones, short- and medium-range missile systems, armoured vehicles and tanks. Rabat aims to expand its influence through the suicide drone manufacturing industry, for which it hopes to enlist the help of the Israelis. The Israeli defence minister is expected to arrive in the Moroccan capital in the coming days, which analyst Mohamed Shkeir told Defence News could be used as an opportunity to cash in.