For the last ten years, Morocco has tried to build a parallel diplomacy to advance its agenda on the international scene. While the idea is terrific, the lack of competent actors and the absence of a comprehensive agenda have hampered the implementation of a parallel diplomatic strategy capable of producing tangible results.
Washington D.C – Despite the activities of several well-funded think tanks and the actions of few non-governmental organizations, Morocco have made little headways in promoting its agenda in countries where its positions in the Western Sahara conflict are either misunderstood or underreported.
Notwithstanding few widely advertised travels to friendly countries and meetings with responsive organizations, Moroccan Think Thanks’ efforts fall short of making real impact on the positions and attitudes of hostile governments and unfriendly political and human rights groups.
A good measuring tool for evaluating the success of a diplomatic event or a round table discussion is the amount of world media coverage such activities generate and the intensity of international social media activity leading up to it, during and after.
Unfortunately, most of the international events hosted by Moroccan entities get little traction in the influential press and social media, despite the fact that the resources and the budget are hefty. Thus, the failure of this two-track diplomacy to create a buzz on the world stage is incomprehensible.
The inability of Moroccan non-government agencies to identify “hot button issues” to deliberate and unfriendly territory to engage calls into question Moroccan parallel diplomacy’s aptitude to respond effectively, consistently and in a scrupulous manner.
Three current crisis illustrate these shortcomings. Spain’s’ human rights violations against Catalan nationalists, Algeria’s kidnaping and murder of Sahrawi leader Ahmed Khalil and England’s’ handling of the issue of border between Northern Ireland and Ireland during the Brexit-EU negotiations are cases that Moroccan civil society should adopt, discuss and highlight.
While Morocco’s apathy towards Spain’s harsh crackdown on Catalan nationalists is “understandable”, the complete absence of Moroccan NGOs during Spain’s trial of Catalan separatist leaders in Madrid is shameful and inexcusable.
In fact, Spanish NGOs of all political colors keep criticizing Morocco’s human rights record in the Western Sahara while Moroccan entities, including thinks tanks, keep becoming intimidated of addressing Madrid’s gross violations of basic rights in Catalonia.
Yet, the failure of Moroccan organizations to publicize Algeria’s role in the kidnaping and killing of the high ranking leader of Polisario guerilla movement Ahmed Khalil tops the list of recent diplomatic missteps.
In the face of indisputable evidence of Algerian involvement in this crime and the constant protests of Sahrawis in the refugee camps in Tindouf denouncing Algerian military extra-judicial killing of one of the tribesman, neither the Moroccan diplomacy nor the civil society have fully capitalized on this opportunity to expose the extent of Algiers role in the Western Sahara conflict.
A successful parallel diplomacy approach to international relations should not be motivated by a fear of alienating certain nations. To the contrary, it should be based on tackling thorny subjects that the official ministry of foreign affairs cannot “touch”.
The fear that certain countries like Spain or United Kingdom could turn against the Moroccan positions in the Western Sahara conflict if a Moroccan entity addresses sensitive internal subjects exposes the basic cultural assumptions that the Moroccan diplomacy is inferior.
The kingdom must put at the center of its public relations campaigns activists familiar with the Catalan nationalist agenda, the Northern Ireland conflict, and the Polisario opposition movements. Moreover, it needs campaigners who can take the fight to Madrid, London, New York and Geneva.
Even though, Morocco dedicated enough money and resources to develop an ambitious foreign policy and to promote a much more assertive international posture, promising results remain to be seen. Therefore, it is time for officials to revise their approach and evaluate the actors behind this falling strategy.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.
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