The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Castro and the Middle East

Since Fidel Castro may be on his last throes, it might be worth wondering what impact his death could have on the Middle East. For instance, Castro was a major supporter of Sahrawi independence and many Polisario Front members have trained there (and continue to do so.) Like the Western Sahara conflict itself, it's partly a holdover of the Cold War whereby Soviet proxy Cuba would back the Polisario against the Moroccan monarchy, a US client with very, very close ties to the CIA. (Read about the Safari Club if you ever get the chance -- it was a French-US--Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian-Moroccan-Iranian (pre-1979) outfit that fought communism in Africa through special ops; a lot of the muscle used was Moroccan, much like in Al Qaeda today.)

I can't claim to offer any particular insight here, but a more pro-US bent to Cuban foreign policy post-Castro could signal a change in a lot of other policies, including towards the Polisario. Currently the pro-Morocco lobby in the US Congress essentially consists of anti-Castro Republicans and pro-Israel Democrats. Post-Castro, would the former really care anymore about Morocco's forgotten conflict?

Also, there might be other Castro-Middle East links I'm forgetting about. Can anyone think of any?