The Potomac-SAIS ‘task force’ was likely an initiative organized by the Moroccan-American Center for Policy (MACP), a registered agent of the Kingdom of Morocco. Though MACP’s fingerprints are nowhere to be found in the report, it is an open secret in Washington that this project, culminating in the Potomac-SAIS report, has been in the works for several months. And little surprise, then, that the report’s recommendations attempt to equate US interests with those of the Moroccan Monarchy. Paying for policy is quite normal in Washington.
Friday, February 17, 2012
In my recent post about J. Peter Pham’s hypocrisy on the Western Sahara, I mention that he is prominently listed as an expert source on the Moroccan American Center for Policy’s website, Morocco on the Move.
I thought it might be illuminating to take a look at the whole list. Here it is:
Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center
Professor Yonah Alexander, Director of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies’ International Center for Terrorism Studies
Leila Hanafi, Staff Attorney and Programs Manager, The World Justice Project
Professor I. William Zartman, Professor Emeritus, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University
Professor Lahcen Haddad, Morocco Country Representative, Management Systems International
Ambassador Edward M. Gabriel (ret.), President, Moroccan American Center
Jean R. AbiNader, Executive Director of the Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center
Robert M. Holley, Executive Director, Moroccan American Center for Policy
Robert M. Holley, Jean R. Abinader, and Edward M. Gabriel are all listed in the latest data available online as foreign agents of Morocco under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registration of the Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP). While I would never suggest that the $1,031,579.27 MACP received from the Moroccan government in the first half of 2011 would in any way cloud the judgment of or bias the analyses or opinions of these three experts, my close monitoring (1,2 & 3) of their statements and actions since they registered with FARA in 2004 strongly suggests they are factually challenged Moroccan stooges.
Professor Lahcen Haddad is listed here as “Morocco Country Representative, Management Systems International.” Perhaps MACP’s meager budget doesn’t include an IT person, but one would think that they might have changed this online bio to include his appointment on January 3 of this year as Minister of Tourism under the new Moroccan Head of Government Benkirane. Whatever, as a member of the Moroccan government he is undoubtedly part of the problem and not the solution on the Western Sahara issue. Furthermore, mention in his bio (for the Moroccan Tourism Administration) of previous employment with Kerr McGee – who for years colluded with Morocco’s illegal exploitation of the Western Sahara’s natural resources – hardly instills any confidence in this expert source.
I guess a cameo appearance by Professor I. William Zartman here could be expected. I have written extensively (1 & 2) of Professor Zartman’s pro-Moroccan views, his disdain for international law, and his recent attempts to justify forcing autonomy down the throats of the Western Saharans. Western Sahara historian, Jacob Mundy, says it best when he tells us that Zartman defends a solution [autonomy with Moroccan sovereignty] that his own theories [in the fields of conflict resolution and game theory] would reject.” As a recipient of the prestigious designation of Commander, Ouissam Alaouite, delivered by King Mohammed VI, I really wonder about the Professor’s objectivity.
Yonah Alexander’s appearance on the list also could be expected, given his series of reports on terrorism in the Maghreb and Sahel since 2009 which consistently ties the solution of the economic and security ills of the area to a settlement of the Western Saharan problem on Morocco’s terms. His most recent report’s suggestion to close the Tindouf camps and disperse the inhabitants is particularly preposterous. He represents a toxic strain of thought (shared by fellow terrorist experts and Morrocan royalist sycophants Yossef Bodansky and Claude Moniquet) that merges a pro-Israel worldview with pro-Moroccan sentiments with a total antipathy toward international law that arrives finally at an extreme hate of self-determination for the Western Sahara and extreme demonization of the Polisario Front. I have written before (not kindly) about Alexander’s first Potomac Institute Maghreb terrorism report (along with Zartman’s group at Johns Hopkins), Why the Maghreb Matters: Threats, Opportunities, & Options for Effective US Engagement in North Africa. Again, Jacob Mundy’s suspicions about the Potomac-SAIS report are I think right on:
Having written two articles already about J. Peter Pham (1 & 2), I have probably already said enough. Let me just reiterate here that his ardent addlepated neoconservative defense of the greater Moroccan thesis is hardly convincing.
I really don’t have a clue how Leila Hanafi gets on this list. A Moroccan-American international lawyer recently out of college she is listed as a Staff Attorney and Programs Manager, The World Justice Project. She is also a Co-Editor/Legal Expert for Morocco World News and regional coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. An online search for any basis for her designation as an expert source turned up next to nothing.
In recap, the expert source list for Morocco on the Move is made up of one member of the Moroccan government, three paid foreign agents/lobbyists of the Moroccan government, one American academic decorated by the Moroccan Government, one Zionist terrorism expert, one extreme neocon, and one complete neophyte. My main reason for looking at this list is to highlight the extent to which it is an extremely biased and untrustworthy group of Moroccan propagandists and apologists – especially on the Western Saharan issue.
Certainly, if you are looking only for the totally biased and slanted Moroccan royalist line on the Western Sahara, this group I guess works well enough. If, however, accuracy, truthfulness, international law, and balanced analysis are concerns, I suggest you go elsewhere. Professor Stephen Zunes at University of San Francisco and Professor Jacob Mundy at Colgate University, who recently co-authored the excellent Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, & Conflict Irresolution, are good places to start. Anna Theofilopoulou, who covered the Western Saharan crisis at the UN and worked closely with James A. Baker III during his stint as Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General on Western Sahara, is another recommended expert source.