President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that Morocco and Israel have agreed to normalize relations, making Morocco the fourth Arab nation in four months to recognize Israel. Part of this deal will include the United States recognizing Morocco’s claims over the disputed Western Sahara region, according to reports.
Trump said that the two countries would establish normal diplomatic ties and other relations, which will see the immediate reopening of liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat, followed by the eventual opening of embassies. Additionally, there would be joint overflight rights for airlines, U.S. officials said.
“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” he tweeted late Thursday morning. “Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”
A major caveat of this deal will see the U.S. recognize Morocco’s controversial territorial claims over the disputed Western Sahara region, which the kingdom administers partially. Up until this point, top global powers have, for the most part, tried to stay out of the dispute.
The decades-long dispute dates back to the messy Spanish decolonization of northwestern Africa, resulting in violence breaking out in the 1970s over control of the region. Multiple parties still contentiously dispute who controls Western Sahara. The main competitor to Morocco’s claim is the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which seeks an independent Western Sahara and is mostly backed by neighboring Algeria and Mauritania. Mauritania, it should be noted, also occupies a southern portion of the region.
This dispute has caused diplomatic troubles for Morocco, complicating its relations with its North and West African neighbors and with the 55-member African Union. The United Nations recognizes neither Morocco’s nor the SADR’s sovereignty over the region.
In two separate tweets on Thursday, Trump firmly emphasized that the U.S. is ready and willing to recognize these disputed claims, citing that Morocco recognized the U.S. as an independent nation in 1777, one year after the U.S. declared its independence from Britain.
“Today, I signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara,” Trump posted to Twitter. “Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!”
“Morocco recognized the United States in 1777,” he wrote in another tweet one minute later. “It is thus fitting we recognize their sovereignty over the Western Sahara.”
In September, the U.S. successfully brokered a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and then a separate one with Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords. In the months since the U.S. spearheaded similar negotiations that have resulted in Sudan agreeing to establish normal relations with the Jewish State. These historic milestones have all largely been seen as a monumental foreign policy victory for Trump.
The first Arab countries to recognize Israel were Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, both under different circumstances.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent
China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.
But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”
The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients. According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”
Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.
The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.
Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.
The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”
Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.
According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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