Shortly after the news broke that Morocco decided to normalize relations with Israel, Reuters published a story that said Washington is looking to sell four advanced drones to Morocco.
Reuters cited three anonymous US officials who did not indicate whether the sale was related to the normalization agreement or not. But the UAE is preparing to purchase a $23 billion weapons package as its reward for opening ties with Israel, so advanced military equipment is clearly on the table for Arab countries who take the step to normalize.
The sources said the sale to Morocco would consist of four MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones made by General Atomics with a range of 6,000 nautical miles that can significantly boost Rabat’s surveillance capabilities. While the SeaGuardians can carry a payload, it’s not clear if they will be sold armed.
One of the sources said Congress could be notified of the potential sale as early as Friday. Congress could potentially block the deal, but the source said that is not expected. On Thursday, the Senate failed to pass resolutions that aimed to stop the UAE weapons sales.
As a reward for agreeing to normalize with Israel, the US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. Morocco annexed the territory after the Spanish withdrew from the region in 1975. Rabat then fought a war with the Polisario Front, a group that represents the indigenous Sahrawi people, to control the territory until a ceasefire was reached in 1991.
The Polisario Front declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976, a de facto state in Western Sahara. The SADR is a member of the African Union and maintains diplomatic relations with about 40 UN member states. Currently, the SADR controls about 20 percent of Western Sahara, and Morocco controls the rest. The UN recognizes neither the SADR nor Moroccan sovereignty over the region.