Washington D.C. - Despite all the photos, videos and Facebook posts, the Moroccan community in the United State remains divided, unengaged and underused by both the Moroccan Embassy and the Moroccan governmental agencies in charge of Moroccans residing overseas.
Washington D.C. – Despite all the photos, videos and Facebook posts, the Moroccan community in the United State remains divided, unengaged and underused by both the Moroccan Embassy and the Moroccan governmental agencies in charge of Moroccans residing overseas.
In fact, recent actions undertaken by Moroccan officials further eroded the trust and widened the gap between large segments of the Moroccan-American community and the homeland.
Thirty years after the beginning of what could be described as the first wave of Moroccan immigration to the United States, Moroccan officials remain hesitant to engage their compatriots and anxious to open up to the community at large. The role of the diaspora in American political life and especially in lobbying for the Moroccan Sahara is almost non-existent.
In Washington, All of Morocco’s recent “limited” diplomatic and political successes were the fruits of expensive lobbying efforts and not a result of Moroccan-Americans civic activism. Such meager showing is a testament to the failure of the many Moroccan organizations entrusted with tapping into the talents of the Moroccans residing abroad to push national interests including the Western Sahara dossier.
The few community events in the U.S. that were sponsored by Moroccan official entities failed to produce tangible results because of lack of advertisements and meek outreach efforts. While support for these meetings is far from universal, it will show Rabat’s resolve to utilize its diaspora for the benefit of the nation.
Notwithstanding the buzz around posters, meetings, pictures and video of Moroccan-American activities, the community remains divided, disorganized and ill-equipped to advocate for the home country especially on the issue of Western Sahara
The many conferences that the Moroccan press cover from Washington seldom feature powerful politicians, influential diplomats, heavyweight legal expert or known academicians who could advocate the Moroccan positions in the Western Sahara conflict and give Rabat’s policies credibility and authority.
Furthermore, none of these gatherings produced a real change in the American positions. Rabat needs a grassroots strategy to represent Morocco’s autonomy plan as a legal and credible resolution to the Western Sahara conflict.
Despite recent widely publicized events showing gathering of Moroccan-Americans, only a miniscule fraction of the diaspora in America is involved in such activities. In fact, events like the third forum of Moroccan Competencies Living in the United States, that was held in Marrakech April 3-4, 2018, do more harm than good to unite the community and tap into the large pool of Moroccans living in the US who can help the Kingdom to advance its political and economic agendas.
As in similar gatherings, the Moroccan authorities in Rabat and Washington never coordinated, canvassed or consulted the wide community. Instead, as it has been the practice in the past thirty years, the few “chosen ones” were flown to Marrakech to attend and were marketed as representative of Moroccan-Americans.
While such initiatives are helpful and welcomed, they should be transparent, genuine, and fair. Moroccan authorities, in this case the Minister of Moroccans Living Abroad, Abdelkrim Benatiq, seemed more interested in claiming the organization of the meeting than achieving the stated goals of the conference. More worrisome is the fact that such projects push away the elements who can help the homeland and portray government’s efforts as halfhearted and insincere.
If the Moroccan embassy in Washington and the Minister of Moroccans Living Abroad were serious about finding and involving the most capable and qualified among the thousands of Moroccans, they should have open houses across the USA and invite the community. Such invitations come with risks, but with a lot of benefits that outweigh the negatives. After all, it is the job of diplomats to talk to their constituency no matter how “uncomfortable” the encounters could be.
Communal meetings with a diverse group of citizens is a sign of acceptance and recognition of all views, but they also bring into sharp contrasts some of standing tensions between some in the community. However, just the fact of having open house would unify and energize large segments of the Moroccan-American diaspora. It is worth remembering that successful campaigns are about the substance and the messenger and not style and decor.