Rabat had rolled out the red carpet for the arrival of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday, November 23. His two-day visit, which follows that of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in August, and the trip of several other economic delegations, is the first by an Israeli defense minister to Morocco. “First formal visit”, had specified Mr. Gantz, before leaving the airport Ben-Gurion Tuesday evening, a way of recalling that the security cooperation between the two countries is old.
On Wednesday, the two states signed a landmark military understanding, the first of its kind between Israel and a country in the Arab world. This one is supposed to provide “A solid framework to formalize security relations and support future collaborations”, according to a statement from the Israeli Defense Ministry. On the menu, closer cooperation in intelligence and supply. There is also already talk of bilateral military exercises, a diplomatic coup for the Jewish state.
Eldorado of the arms dealers
Rabat has been an enthusiastic customer of Israeli armed drones and cyber espionage software for several years. However, before the normalization agreement signed at the end of 2020 under the aegis of the United States, in exchange for Washington’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, the kingdom could only obtain supplies in semi-clandestinity.
Since then, Morocco, which is mired in a confrontation with the Polisario Front and Algeria – also a leader in challenging Israeli diplomatic efforts in Africa – has become an El Dorado for arms dealers in the United States. Hebrew state. Several drone orders have been placed. An agreement has also been concluded to build an offensive drone factory on Moroccan territory in collaboration with BlueBird Aero Systems, a private company whose main shareholder is the public company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Before the signing of the agreement with his counterpart, Abdellatif Loudiyi, on Wednesday, Mr. Gantz spoke publicly at the graves of Mohammed V and Hassan II, a reminder that relations between the two countries are as old as the Hebrew state itself. They are first and foremost cultural – nearly a million Israelis have roots in Morocco – but also strategic, driven largely by intelligence.
In Israel, this rapprochement is interpreted as the dawn of a new geopolitical era, the beginning of the crowning of seventy years of diplomatic efforts to gain acceptance in the Arab world. Today, the first priority is Iran, repeat Israeli experts, convinced that the Arab regimes have turned away from the Palestinian cause.
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