Au sujet d’un article sur les troubles au Maroc paru sur South Front

This post is about Morocco, a North African monarchy facing  growing political unrest. Therefore we use French below.  

We have this article from South Front about the current political unrest in Morocco. France and other European allies of Morocco are keeping silence about the turmoil in the Rif area and the mainstream media are depicting events there as merely minor riots without political aim. 

According to the article, Morocco is targeted by a Regime Change! Hey guys, seriously! Morocco is under the protection of Saudi Arabia and France and its regime is not perceived as hostile but friendly. Why on Earth Paris or Ryad would allow a regime change in their private garden? 

In contrast, Damascus and Kiev (before the coup) were and are still perceived as adversaries and enemies. As for Syria, the Israeli and the US Congress are making it clear that they want to topple President Assad whatever the cost would be, even a global thermonuclear war. 

Above all, the article does not mention the history of the Rif region and seems to ignore that a Republic in northern Morocco that existed between 1921 and 1926. It was created in September 1921, when the people of the Rif revolted and declared their independence from Spanish and French occupation as well as from the Moroccan sultan (King) Yusef.  

Obviousely the authors miss the point but it is worth to be published here and commented. Our commentary (in French) is between brackets.  

Nous avons cet article de South Front sur les troubles politiques en cours au Maroc. Ses auteurs y ont totalement raté leur analyse mais le papier mérite qu’il soit publié ici et commenté. Nos commentaires sont entre crochets:

In nearly every case of a forcible, West-led, regime change in the Middle East or Ukraine, the process began with low level public protests against a real or imagined abuse of power by security forces . Morocco’s current situation appears to follow the same scenario . The killing of Mouhcine Fikri, a fisherman who was crushed by a truck while attempting to retrieve fish that was confiscated by the police in October 2016, had sparked several waves of unrest and civil disobedience initially in the city of Al-Khoseima which later spread to other parts of the Rif region.

[Une similitude de formes ne coïncide pas toujours avec une similitude de structures. La situation en Ukraine ou en Syrie est fort différente de la situation au Maroc. Le fait que les commanditaires des guerres hybrides comme celle connue sous le terme « Printemps Arabe » exploitent des faits divers suite à un processus d’amplification via des médias afin de déclencher un processus de troubles sociopolitiques n’empêche nullement la survenue d’injustices, a fortiori au Maroc, pays où la torture est tellement efficace que les interrogateurs de la CIA en Irak durant la période 2004-2007 ont fait appel à des « spécialistes » marocains pour arracher d’impossibles aveux à de pauvres civils irakiens accusés d’être des membres de groupes armés.]

These protests quickly produced an informal leader, Nasser Zefzafi, a 39-year-old unemployed man with considerable rhetorical skill and a populist touch. Zefzafi’s demands quickly escalated beyond the initial case of Fikri’s death and included Morocco’s corruption, repressions, absence of investments and subsidies to the Rif region, onerous security forces’ presence, even Morocco’s foreign aid to African countries and the King Mohammed VI’s claim of supreme spiritual authority.

[Nasser Zefzafi a émergé comme le leader du Hirak, un mouvement de contestation populaire né au Rif. Si certaines de ses déclarations peuvent être perçues comme populistes (plus de justice sociale, plus de droits et une lutte sans merci contre une corruption généralisée et endémique), il a su capter l’attention de ses concitoyens et surtout mis fin à l’exploitation de la monarchie marocaine de certains mythes à caractère religieux relative à l’autorité religieuse. Par dessus tout il a concrétisé pour un moment les aspirations longuement refoulé d’une portion non négligeable des populations du Rif, dont le tempérament ne s’est jamais accomodé avec l’esprit tribal et corrompu d’une monarchie décadente, prédatrice et très régionaliste.]

Zefzafi, moreover, demanded to enter into negotiations with the king himself rather than his representatives, a demand that was bound to be rejected due to its unprecedented nature. Interestingly, Zefzafi accused the king of having entered a scheme with Gulf Arab states in order to settle Arabs in Morocco, thus displacing the native Berbers.

[Zefzafi a refusé de traiter avec les représentants locaux parce que ces derniers ont tout fait pour passer sous silence les événements du Rif. Ce refus a été bien accueilli par la majorité des acteurs de la contestation ainsi qu’une large proportion de la population qui perçoivent de manière très négative les nombreux abus et les graves détournements des deniers publics commis par les représentants du Roi. Enfin lors de son dernier discours, le Roi Mohammed VI a ouvertement qualifié les responsables gouvernementaux en charge de la région du Rif de « traîtres », légitimant ainsi une partie des revendications rifaines.

En ce qui concerne l’accusation d’un remplacement ethnique, il s’agit d’un mythe né autour du refus des rifains, comme l’ensemble des populations du Maghreb, a accepter un quelconque diktat venant d’Arabie Saoudite ou d’un pays du Golfe.]

Morocco’s government responded by dispatching a delegation with promised 1 billion euro over the course of five years and by accusing the protesters of separatism and, on May 29, arresting Zefzafi and other protest leaders who now stand accused of promoting separatism, encouraging rebellion, obtaining financial support from foreign powers, attempting a forcible regime change, which under Morocco’s criminal code may be punished by death.Ultimately 32 of the key activists were sentenced to 18 months of prison, while others received 2 or 3 month sentences.

[La promesse d’investir près un milliard d’euros dans des projets d’investissements dans la région du Rif n’a reçu aucune réaction favorable, car elle ne favorisera à court terme que les réseaux de la corruption. L’accusation de séparatisme est chronique en ce qui concerne le Rif mais celle relative une aide financière émanant de puissances étrangères n’a aucun fondement. Le Rif est une région adjacente de l’Algérie, un pays dont le président malade est lui même un Rifain, toutefois, le régime algérien n’a aucun intérêt à voir un Rif libre et démocratique susceptible de contaminer ses propres régions et dans ce cas de figure, Alger et Rabat sont solidaire lorsque il s’agit de sauvegarder leurs intérêts et leurs inextricables réseaux de la corruption institutionnelle. Les pays européens comme la France et l’Espagne censurent non seulement tout ce qui est relatif à ces événements en les présentant comme de petites manifestations pour le pain mais la France est allée jusqu’à envoyer des conseillers militaires auprès des services marocains afin de trouver le meilleur moyen d’enterrer la contestation.]

Alas, far from tamping down on the unrest, the trial proved a rallying point for a variety of forces which hope to capitalize on the protests and turn them to political advantage. About 600 attorneys representing the vast majority of legal offices in the country expressed willingness to challenge the ruling. In Rabat there was held a solidarity protest with up to 40 thousand participants which included such organizations as the February 11 Movement which appeared during the original Arab Spring, the Istiqlal Party which is now much diminished in spite of having won the country independence in the 1950s, and the Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane (Justice and Spirituality), a semi-legal Islamist association, which is tolerated by the Moroccan authorities. It also took part in protests of the Arab Spring with the slogan of introducing Sharia law in Morocco which refuses to participate in the legitimate political process and has a strong presence in Rif. Mohammed VI, clearly not wishing to see the situation escalate into bloodshed, recognized the right to protest and indicated the need to investigate why the 650 million euro development plan for Rif was not implemented.

[Cela traduit plus une certaine dynamique de la société civile marocaine, bien plus active que celles des pays voisins qu’une certaine volonté de provoquer un changement de régime. Dans la foulée, on y apprend que 650 millions d’euros ont été engloutis dans les méandres de la corruption. ]

Indeed, the economic situation in the Rif region is the reason why so many segments of society jumped on the bandwagon of protest, which is a recurring phenomenon in this part of Morocco. The most important form of economic activity is the…cultivation of cannabis and smuggling of Latin American narcotics from West Africa. Even though this is fairly lucrative trade, little of it trickles down to ordinary citizens, with government officials being accused of skimming off the profits. The poverty also prompted many of the region’s young men to join various terrorist factions in Iraq and Syria, and with the fighting in these two countries slowly coming to a close, these men now pose a threat to the long-term stability of Morocco.

[Premier producteur de Cannabis au monde et depuis quelques années une des plaques tournantes du trafic de cocaïne en provenance de l’Amérique du Sud, le Maroc officiel profite de cette manne mais pas les populations. En réalité, les hauts gradés de l’Armée et des officiels sont derrière ce trafic.

Le point le plus inquiétant concerne le nombre considérable de jeunes marocains ayant rejoint des organisations terroristes comme l’IS en Irak, en Libye et en Syrie. C’est la deuxiéme catégorie la plus sur-représentée au sein de ces mouvances (après les tunisiens et avant les saoudiens) et ce phénomène traduit un échec systémique de l’approche gouvernementale en matière de politique de contrôle du discours religieux. Il est remarquable de noter ici que les jeunes les plus influencés par le modèle libéral ou issus d’un pays capitaliste forment le gros des contingents étrangers de l’État Islamique (IS). ]

Morocco is fortunate in that, unlike in the other cases of regime change, the wave of protests did not coincide with an effort by the US or other Western powers to overthrow its government. Washington appears pleased with the monarchy and is not calling on Mohammed VI to step down. Morocco’s main strategic rival is Algeria which seeks to wrest away Western Sahara, but is in no position to mount major actions of any kind. The unrest in Morocco did coincide with the Saudi-Qatari confrontation and, considering that various Moroccan factions have ties to either Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the future of this country’s politics will be influenced by the outcome of the Gulf power struggle. Mohammed VI is fairly close to the House of Saud and the UAE which are major investors in Morocco (investments in 2016 France – 22%, UAE – 15,2%, SA – 11,2 %, USA – 9,6%, Qatar – 7,8%). According to some experts, in this situation, protests could be initiated by Qatar through several religious movements which are under its control.

[La question du Sahara Occidental relève de l’Organisation des Nations Unies et n’a rien à voir avec le contentieux territorial avec l’Algérie. Officiellement et encore moins officieusement, l’Algérie n’a jamais revendiqué le Sahara occidental mais a pris position pour l’autodétermination des populations de ce territoire. Par contre la confrontation entre Ryad et Doha risque de compromettre gravement la politique de Rabat. ]

One of the weakest aspects of royal power is the religious sector. The king has complicated relations with Islamic movements within the country. After the terrorist attack in Casablanca in 2003, Mohammed VI began actively strengthen personal power in religious institutions trying to achieve firm control over the religious sector. During his reign, new Islamic governance bodies were established, and many Islamic research centers were opened. Currently Mohamed 6, being a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohamed, is viewed as the highest religious authority in the country and the commander of the faithful (amir al-muminin). He positions himself as a defender of traditional moderate ‘maliki’ Islam. The Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidine and Morchidate, which was established in 2015, annually trains hundreds of imams from Nigeria, Chad, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and France. Morocco, along with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, is one of the world leaders in the field of Islamic education. This allows the country to influence foreign states. However, the king was not able to substitute fully for his control of the religious sector.

[La volonté du palais a contrôler la religion est une politique française (également mise en oeuvre en Algérie et en Tunisie) qui a prouvé ses limites. Cette politique produit l’extrémisme au lieu de le combattre par des moyens idéologiques avec les outils conceptuels de l’Islam.]

According to some experts, a significant part of Muslims within the country are affected by the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. Qatar’s possible link to Morocco’s politics is the Party of Justice and Development (PJD) which has been pressing the king to relinquish part of its powers by allowing a new constitution. The PJD leader Abdelilah Benkiran for several years (November 2011- april 2017) was the prime minister of Morocco. The current prime minister Saadeddine Othmani is the incumbent PJD Secretary-General. It is known that PJD has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Though PJD didn’t take part in the protests and there is no direct evidence Qatar was involved in stoking the protests, Qatar’s involvement cannot be ruled out. The Moroccan protests would have been advantageous to Qatar as a means of demonstrating the country’s ability to destabilize Morocco and therefore compel the Mohammed VI to stray from his Saudi-friendly position and, indeed, Morocco has not joined the Saudi economic and political blockade of Qatar.

For the moment, Morocco’s political future is not facing any clear threats. The country’s economy is performing reasonably well and the king is popular and has the backing of the army and security forces. The wild card, as usual, is the United States which has been known of turning on its own allies without a moment’s notice in order to achieve its economic objectives. It is possible that Morocco owns a golden share in the current conflict in the Gulf, this may affect the future of Morocco which may yet find itself the battleground for the struggles between the world giants. The Rif protests may have been simply the first volley of that war.

[Pour l’instant, Washington n’a aucune raison de mettre un terme à une dynastie aussi docile que commode.  Le Congrès américain y veille scrupuleusement. Et pour Paris, ce serait bien plus q’une hérésie mais plutôt la fin di monde. Les troubles du Rif révèlent un malaise profond affectant le contrat social au Maroc et non pas les prémisses d’un changement de régime, impensable en l’état actuel des choses sauf si Washington décide de se débarrasser de l’Arabie Saoudite. ]

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1 commentaire

  1. We believe in Morocco and the King – may God safely protect him. We hope in the country we love so much and the people who make this country so lovely that the future will be better without forgetting the past.

    J'aime

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