Morocco-US Relations: Big Brother is Watching Us
By Jamal Saidi
Morocco World News
Casablanca, June 7, 2012
The Arab Spring has shed light on North Africa, and the whole world is suddenly closely watching what is happening in the region. The world’s top powers are attuned because they do not want their interests to be threatened due to any political change. In this regard, the United States is very much reminiscent of Goerge Orwel’s Big Brother. The US is watching every nook and cranny of people’s anger and the regimes reactions. Morocco is of no exception.
It is strikingly significant that not less than three days after the beginning of the first demonstrations in the country, the Congressional Research Service issued a report entitled “Morocco’s potential susceptibility to the popular protest movement sweeping the Middle East.” Analysts saw that a mass uprising was unlikely due to relative respect for civil liberties and the public’s esteem for the royal family. The report points out that thousands of Moroccans took to the street in what organizers named a ”Movement for Change”. Both the absence of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) and the involvement of the Islamist Justice and Charity (AL ADL WAL IHSSAN) were mentioned. It is also stated that 5 people were killed, after trapped in a bank that was set on fire, and 120 had been arrested and that a number of public and commercial buildings had been destroyed.
The New York Times reported on February 20, 2011 that calls for change in Morocco are muted by fears of chaos. There is a concern over security claimed the Times, and what it considered as “genuine respect for the king”. However, in response to the constitutional reforms that were introduced by the king, the newspaper considered them to be “ limited steps to democracy,” and that they came as a reaction to the demands of the February 20 movement in an attempt to belittle the royal initiative.
One year after the first uprising in Morocco, The Washington Post pointed out that the February 20 Movement forced the monarchy to take serious steps towards democracy. However, a year after its birth, the movement seemed to have lost its way, like the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US. The pro- democracy activists need to find out if they can keep the fight going. After the election of November 25, 2011, the newspaper added, the officials in Morocco tried to provide a third way of dealing with the Arab Spring, that of reforms under stability in a compromise between revolution and repression.
On the other hand, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, a Democrat, issued a statement, in response to constitutional reforms in Morocco, on July 18, 2011: “I am encouraged by the recent referendum held in Morocco that approved the constitutional changes proposed by King Mohamed… the U.S. should help the Moroccan government in every way we can to ensure this transition happens in a safe and constructive environment that strengthens this important alliance and brings greater stability to the region.”
Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Blart in his turn issued the following statement on June 20, 2O11: “While much of the Arab world is struggling under tyrannical regimes, Morocco provides an example of how to pursue positive reform.”
In her visit to Morocco on February 26, 2012, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, congratulated Mr. Saad Eddine El Otmani and confirmed America’s support to Morocco as a model for the rest of the region: “Let me congratulate your government and His Majesty on the successful constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections that occurred during this momentous last year. Morocco stands as an example, as a model of what can be achieved.”
However, in an intelligent and diplomatic way, Clinton conveyed an encrypted message that “Big Brother” is still waiting for the implementation of the reforms on the ground:
“But Morocco understands, as does the United States, that democratic reform takes constant effort and unending attention. It has to lead to the institutionalizing of democratic habits and practices, and of course to tangible improvements for the Moroccan people.”
In his analysis of the support which Morocco gets from the United States, Mr. Idriss Qassori, a professor at BenMsik College of Humanities and Letters in Casablanca, says that “during the bipolar system which dominated international relations, the US used to support the autocratic regimes and create conflicts in the region. However, in an era of unipolarity, financial crisis and especially after the Arab Spring, America realized that the stability under dictatorships is founded on shaky grounds and that autocracy does not serve its national interests. Therefore, it encourages the change in the Arab world.”
In this regard, Mr. Qassori continues that “America was forced to accept the violent revolution in Libya. At the same time, it welcomes any positive change which might be initiated by the regimes. Hence, there is strong support to the Moroccan example. The US does not seek a radical change. It is interested in the establishment of real democratic institutions, even at a slow pace.” The professor concludes that: “It is easy to create a revolution, but it is difficult to find a ruler.”
The officials in Morocco may indeed be but very content with this ongoing support from a strong and powerful country such as the US, but “Big Brother” may alter his long-held stance at any time. The Egyptian example is a case in point.
Jamal Saidi is a Moroccan student currently enrolled in a master program majoring in Moroccan-American Studies at Hassan II University, Faculty of Humanities/Ben M’sik. He obtained his BA in English studies in 2010 at the same faculty.
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