EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Iran’s recent moves against Morocco’s national sovereignty reflect its intention to continue on its path towards global domination by destabilizing pro-Western countries. Tehran is shifting its attention towards Africa, which is less on the Western radar following the American withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Morocco’s decision to sever relations with Iran a week before President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA may not have been a complete coincidence. Iran’s presence in North Africa has been increasing over time and grew yet more pronounced as the deadline approached for the expected American withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Iran, which is concerned about the future of its interests – global influence, access to natural resources, recruitment of new proxies, the training of existing proxies, and the relocation of illegal conventional and nuclear weapons research – has shifted its attention towards areas that have until recently attracted little scrutiny from the international community, particularly the US. Likewise, in the past few years, Iran has pushed for stronger relations with African countries, including South Africa and Algeria – working to counter Sunni influence through mosques and ideological overtures, but also funding infrastructure, concluding mutually beneficial deals, and arming Shiite militias in West Africa.
Rabat’s break with Tehran came as a shock to much of the international community. Not many have followed events in North Africa and are aware of recent illegal maneuvers by the separatist group Polisario, which claims to represent the Western Sahrawi tribes. Polisario has long been known as a smuggler of small arms to Mauritania and other countries in the region, and in the last decade has been implicated in drug smuggling.