Morocco has hired key lobbyists in the US to promote its illegal phosphate sales. While selling legitimate phosphate from Morocco, their government owned phosphate company OCP also exports phosphate from occupied Western Sahara to the US. Such trade is in violation of international law.
Stories below are cut from Maghreb Confidential and Africa Mining Intelligence. The stories show how Morocco promotes its phosphates exploitation in Western Sahara in violation of international law.
Maghreb Confidential N° 744 08/06/2006 Phosphates: American Take the Initiative Again In the wake of Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit in April that saw a new agreement by Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) to regularly supply Sinochem with phosphate, the Americans clearly had no intention of quitting the Moroccan market. The U.S. firm Mosaic has just penned a deal with Maroc Phosphore SA, an affiliate of OCP, providing for the delivery of 200,000 tons per year of triple granulated super phosphates that Mosaic will market in the U.S. Another American phosphate group, Innophos, hired the lobbyist Michael O’Neil, a former senior CIA aide, in 2005 to “promote relations with Morocco,” which is the world’s third-ranking producer of phosphate.
Maghreb Confidential N° 709 21/09/2005 UNITED STATES/MOROCCO Michael O’Neil We understgand that Michael O’Neil, a former legal director and chief-of-staff to the CIA director, has registered as a lobbyist for the American chemical phosphate group Innophos on Sept. 7. Also registering at the time was Stephen Valentine. The two aim to promote U.S. relations with Morocco, the world’s third-ranking phosphate producer. O’Neil, who now works as a law partner in the firm Preston, Gates and Ellis, specializes in export regulations and was legal adviser to the U.S. defense secretary in the past. Valentine, for his part, was deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. He is also a partner at Preston Gates Ellis.
Maghreb Confidential N° 739 27/04/2006 MOROCCO Morocco : China & U.S. in Race for Phosphate For want of oil, Morocco can dangle its phosphate as a prize for foreign powers fighting one another for raw materials to feed their industries. For the moment, the takers of Moroccan phosphate - the kingdom’s richest gift -are China and the United States, with Beijing holding a definite head start. The Chinese offensive began last September when Sinochem Corporation signed an agreement with Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) to quadruple Morocco’s exports of phosphate-based fertilizer from 200,000 tons to 800,000 tons over the period between 2007-2011. The United States, a traditional ally of Morocco, wasn’t long in replying. That same month, Michael O’Neil, former legal counsellor and chief-of-staff to the CIA’s director, registered himself as a lobbyist for the American chemical phosphates group Innophos. The stated aim O’Neil, now a partner in the Preston Gates Ellis law firm, and who is being assisted by Stephen Valentine, former deputy assistant attorney-general under Ronald Reagan and George Bush sr., is “to foster relations with Morocco, the world’s third-ranking producer of phosphates.” The next move in the strategic game came on April 24-25 with Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit to Morocco. A new purchasing agreement involving an unspecified amount of fertilizer was signed - to come into effect next year - between Du Keping, deputy head of Sinochem, and the new boss of OCP, Mostapha Terrab, who has strong links with the U.S.: he holds a degree from MIT and worked for the World Bank in Washington. The Chinese additionally discussed a project to form a joint venture with the Moroccans to build a phosphoric acid and phosphate-based fertilizer plant at Jorf Lasfar to supply the Chinese market. There is talk that Morocco could privatise a number of big state-controlled corporations in 2008, including OCP. The Chinese and Americans already have a foot in the door.
Africa Mining Intelligence N° 149 07/02/2007 MOROCCO OCP Takes on High Profile Lobbyist Africa Mining Intelligence understands Morocco’s Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) and the Moroccan government signed a contract with a leading lobbyist in Washington on Jan. 7 in a bid to “raise the awareness of American officials concerning issues involving Morocco, the United Nations and OCP’s business.” A U.N. mission has been stationed for over 20 years in Western Sahara, a territory claimed by Morocco and which houses major phosphate resources. The lobbying company in question is Avatar Enterprises which is registered in Collinsville, Illinois and headed by Gary Feers and Robert Kjellander. The latter is highly influential in circles surrounding George Bush Sr. (who worked for Avatar) and his son. Kjellander, who was the treasurer of the Republican National Committee, helped George W. Bush to get re-elected in 2004 by delivering the Republican vote in three states. OCP and the Moroccan government passed by way of Flager Holdings Ltd. to retain the services of Avatar. The Moroccans own over 20% of Flager, an American firm based in California. OCP’s contract with Avatar is worth $40,000.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.