Jean-Jacques Cornish

Israel and Morocco have links dating back to when they were in league with apartheid South Africa

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The normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco comes as no surprise to observers of events in the Maghreb and the Middle east.

Donald Trump’s claim to have brokered the deal is made all the more ridiculous by the well-know reality that Tel Aviv and Rabat have secretive military relations dating back decades – to the time they were both in league with the apartheid regime.

In those Cold War days Morocco was being armed by Pretoria and Israel cooperated with apartheid South Africa in developing a nuclear weapon.

Both countries justifiably feel deep shame about this now and speak of it either with reluctance or try to deny it.

The surprise in yesterday’s announcement by President Trump is his recognizing what he calls Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

This amounts to him flying in the face on international condemnation of Morocco’s 1995 invasion of the former Spanish territory and its illegal occupation of it since then.

Britain, America’s permanent Western partner on the United Nations Security Council, who joined in scolding Morocco 45 year ago, hastened today to stress that its position on Western Sahara has not changed.

It is holding Morocco to its promise to hold a referendum on self-governance for the territory.

That was a condition of the 1991 ceasefire ending Morocco’s 16 year war with Polisario, the Western Sahara liberation movement.

The African Union also hastened to emphasize that Western Sahara is a founder member of the continental grouping having been admitted to its predecessor the Organization of African Unity.

Morocco stormed out of the OAU when this happened and shunned Africa until it recently joined the AU as a fellow member with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

King Mohammed VI, Morocco’s absolute ruler, has clearly opted once again to turn his country’s back on Africa to take up with Israel and the lame duck Trump administration in the United States.

It remains to be seen whether President Joe Biden will persist with the maverick position on Morocco which is at odds with international opinion.

The ruling African national Congress in South Africa which currently occupies the  chair of the African Union says: “It is regrettable that outgoing President Trump in his last days in office tries to cement his legacy of reactionary foreign policies, that does not contribute to peaceful resolutions of conflict in  the world, but in fact fuels hatred and conflict.”

It “calls on all international and progressive forces on the continent and in the world to condemn this deal and continue to work for the implementation of UN and AU resolutions.”

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.