Vancouver, Canada - Not one day passes by where we are not reminded by the Arab Spring. This wave of uncontrolled protests and organized anarchy has not failed either of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria or Yemen, and has left many Arab leaders with a very strong sense of insecurity. It has come to my attention that many chose to describe the repercussions of this wave on Morocco, Jordan, and some of the Gulf Monarchies as a notorious exception. With all due respect, I don’t like to see Morocco in that pile, that is not an exception for us, but sheer normality.
Vancouver, Canada – Not one day passes by where we are not reminded by the Arab Spring. This wave of uncontrolled protests and organized anarchy has not failed either of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria or Yemen, and has left many Arab leaders with a very strong sense of insecurity. It has come to my attention that many chose to describe the repercussions of this wave on Morocco, Jordan, and some of the Gulf Monarchies as a notorious exception. With all due respect, I don’t like to see Morocco in that pile, that is not an exception for us, but sheer normality.
I would like to begin by expressing that the term ‘Arab Spring’ does not anyhow apply to our Berber identity, and therefore is inacceptable in referring to whatever occurrences have taken place in Morocco. Though I am an Arab myself, I have peacefully and proudly come to terms with the idea that the original inhabitants of our country are the Berbers. The significant presence of Berbers in the Moroccan and Algerian populations distinguishes us from the rest of the Arab World. I will however make a historical reference as to why Algeria may be more attributed to the ‘Arab Spring’ description.
It appears as though the Middle-East has since the beginning of time been a breeding ground for revolts. Reconciliation in the Middle-East and the notion of Pan Arabism are nothing more than an overly optimistic idea, as the dynamics of the region will never be able to accept reconciliation. Far too many betrayals have occurred, and vindictive nature has become indoctrinated in our cultures. It is only in the Arab World where we see the creation of a political conflict between two powerhouses over a soccer game, Egypt and Algeria. However, they are not to blame as the political Arena has only become accessible to them in 1916, beforehand all the decisions were made in Constantinople.
The Arab revolt against the Ottomans in June of 1916 is only the beginning to an ever-ending cycle of power struggle. As many fail to view the big picture, the ex-Ottoman colonies in the Arab world are still amid transition. It is not easy to put behind a 500 year authoritarian rule, wake up, and shout democracy. The establishment of Monarchies directly after the collapse of the Ottoman rule may now be seen as a shortcut to Jordan and the Gulf monarchies; they merely experienced a change in ruler, not political system. Many states however fell in the trap, where betrayal found itself playing a role again, such as in Libya, Egypt and Iraq, where the authoritarian political systems remained the same under Gaddafi, Mubarak and Saddam, but with the addition of merely a label: democracy, all to gain public approval. The source of the current problems in the Middle-East now is the addition of that label, thus the selfishness of the three aforementioned rulers.
Morocco is not an exception, because in spite of its geographical location, it has never really politically been part of the Middle-East since the early 1500’s. History allows a better understanding of the nature of political power and International relations. Morocco under the rule of the Saadis’ and Alaouites has never pleaded allegiance to the Ottoman Empire. As a matter of fact, notable battles happened between the Moroccans and the Ottomans, and perhaps this has led to Morocco’s political isolation from the East. It is noted that Suleyman I of the Ottoman empire once addressed Muhammad Al Mahdi of the Saadi dynasty as ‘Sheikh Al Arab’ (Leader of the tribes), supplicating for the withdrawal of the Moroccan military siege on Fes, only for Al Mahdi to address him as ‘Sheikh Al Hawwata’ (Leader of the fishermen and boats).
Such tensions between the Moroccan dynasties and the Ottomans lead to fierce battles such as that of the three kings, as well as most importantly the fall of Tlemcen where the Ottomans emerged as victors. Suleyman I came to the realization that confrontation with the Moroccan dynasties is more costly than initiating mutual respect, and thus directly after the battle of Tlemcen, he exhorted all Ottoman Algerian governors to not fiddle with Moroccan political affairs. Though the Ottoman military and political power was substantially stronger than that of the Moroccan dynasties and Berber tribes, never did one bow to another. This resulted in a constituted respect to one another, whereas the Ottomans and Moroccan dynasties acknowledged one another’s high religious status.
The purpose of this historical review brings to light the previous bipolar distribution of influence and power in terms of contemporary International relations. The Moroccan colonization of parts of the Iberian Peninsula, and the Ottoman conquest of Eastern Europe as well as their mutual interest in the sub-Saharan region portrays the political competitiveness, the bipolar character and regional importance of both entities. The fall of Tlemcen in 1517 marked the loss of western Algeria for the Moroccan dynasties, and this is why Algeria currently remains common ground between post-Ottoman ground, and contemporary Morocco. This is also represented by their immunity to the Arab Spring occurrences.
Though the media may be a great mediator between opinion and behavior nowadays, Morocco is up to date a haven of stability as opposed to the near and far east. The Arab Spring is nothing more than a phase in the lengthy transition of post Ottoman-States, from purely Islamic Authoritarian to somewhat democratic secular. The spreading of radical Islam that many Moroccan political groups are beginning to harbor may be a door to instability for us, especially as we see what is currently happening to the likes of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. As a proud Moroccan however, I can do nothing but express my gratitude for his highness King Mohamed VI’s stance with regards to the explosive cocktail of religion and politics. The King’s newly established policy banning all religious figures from participating in politics deserves a standing ovation. Perhaps the exception we do have is not having pleaded allegiance to the Ottomans.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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