Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy

Jared Kushner’s crusade for Arab recognition of Israel is as curious as cursory. It’s pretty clear now that the UAE will not honor most of its agreement but will nonetheless gain advantage in the Yemen war. Now Kushner has pulled off another weekend coup throwing out decades of African diplomacy in the Western Sahara for the King of Morocco’s pledge to recognize Israel.

That won’t hold, either, but the damage this does to the people of the area is as great as it will do to the people of The Horn. The man has no idea what he’s doing to the world.

More than a month ago rumors began to circulate that any Arab country willing to recognize Israel would get everything possible they’d want before Trump had to leave.

The two with greatest potentials were Algeria and Morocco, neighbors but fierce adversaries and on opposite sides of the Western Saharan conflict, the longest continuous war on the African continent.

The Western Sahara is a coastal desert that stretches from the south of Morocco to the tip of Africa, an area about the size of Colorado. To its immediate east is Mauritania with a tiny sliver of its northeast bordering Algeria.

War began in the 1960s and continued rather seriously into the 1970s. At the time it was over the prospects of oil in the desert. The combatants were the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Guerillas, a far left pan-Arabic guerilla movement.

When Spain relinquished the Spanish Sahara to the hastily created “Western Sahara” in 1976, Morocco and Mauritania came to an immediate agreement over sovereignty each getting about half the area. This immediately provoked the guerilla movement, which had an earlier version of itself in Mauritania. Algeria, which was still pumped up by its successful rebellions against France, supported the Polasario.

And so it continued, on and on. Finally James Baker under the Bush administration organized the “Houston Accord” which morphed into a final agreement in 1991, and a cease-fire had existed ever since … until Jared stirred up the waters a few months ago. Fighting has resumed. James Baker has scolded Jared.

The French as they are wont to do with their distant foreign empires in tatters is trying to stop war between Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania by a hastily carved out middle ground that is certain to go nowhere.

Meanwhile Morocco has cemented control of about 80% of the area. The U.S. led the multitude of efforts over the decades for “self-determination” despite Morocco’s defacto control. On board the U.S.’ mission was virtually everybody from Russia, China, France and the African Union. Now, it’s all awry.

And over the years no oil has been found, but some of the richest fishing left on this troubled earth is right off-shore in the deep and fecund Atlantic. That is now the jewel.

So over the weekend the King of Morocco praised Trump, recognized Israel, and laid claim again to the whole desert.

This is all very unsettling. “Washington’s support for Moroccan sovereignty over the desert territory represents the biggest policy concession the United States has made so far in its quest to win Arab recognition of Israel,” Reuters concluded.

There are all sorts of reasons this is stupid and counterproductive. Start with new war where there had been effective peace.

I think it’s fair to conclude that the Trump family per se manhandled the United States’ foreign affairs strictly to their own business advantages. But there’s something different about the actions that involve Israel. The mayhem Trump has caused in Iran and Taiwan and Turkey are clearly all for future personal business gain.

But the Western Sahara? It seems personally important to Jared that he get one of Africa’s 52 countries to recognize Israel even at the ire of all the rest: the African Union is livid, and this time publicly so.

I doubt that any of the Trump “manhandled” foreign actions in the last four years will stand in whole. But none will be able to be rolled back entirely, especially those involving Israel. So why? What for?