Rabat - During a trip to the United States in late September as part of a Moroccan delegation of regional officials, Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima President Ilyas El Omari made another of his trademark ambiguous statements.
Rabat – During a trip to the United States in late September as part of a Moroccan delegation of regional officials, Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima President Ilyas El Omari made another of his trademark ambiguous statements.
While speaking to the National Press Club in Washington D.C., the former head of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) warned that, unless major world economies join efforts to help Morocco set up a development strategy, there would be a “catastrophe even worse than that in the Middle East.”
A video from the event shows El Omari making his speech in Arabic while Moncef Belkhayat, the former minister of youth and sports and current director of international relations for the Casablanca region, translates his words into English.
While El Omari was praising Morocco as the only country in the region to come up with an economically- and culturally-based approach to countering terrorism, his ambiguous warning of a “catastrophe” left much room open for interpretation.
While it Morocco is not necessarily immune from turmoil, it is inaccurate to state that Morocco’s stability is dependent on support from foreign powers.
As an example, when the MENA region was rocked by protests and violent repression in 2011 during the “Arab Spring,” the situation in Morocco was quite different.
When protests started, Moroccans took to the streets not to call for overthrowing the political power, but to demand constitutional reforms.
In contrast with other countries, where protests were severely persecuted, demonstrations in Morocco had largely been peaceful, and security services largely refrained from intervening.
King Mohammed VI’s speech on March 9 of that year, in which he promised a new constitution, demonstrated that the state is ready to engage in dialogue with its citizens.
Further, the reforms initiated in Morocco a couple of years before the Arab Spring, along with the widening of the margins of free speech, helped improve the situation of human rights in the country and contributed to breaking several taboos held about the political system and the monarchy.
The relatively homogeneity of Moroccan society, with a largely Sunni population following the Maliki school of jurisdiction and where tribalism is not rooted in comparison with other countries, was also among the factors that made Morocco different from other Arab nations plagued by sectarian, ethnic, or tribal strife.
Since its independence in 1956, Morocco has also been home to a diverse political scene, with parties representing different ideologies which stood in contrast with many other Arab countries where military or civilian autocratic regimes imposed a one-party system.