Morocco’s ‘political earthquake’ from the people not the palace


Moroccans, fed up with the slow pace of social and economic progress, have been boycotting three major national companies, demonstrating that the public is increasingly taking an alternative approach to political participation as the country’s traditional political establishment appears unable to address day-to-day challenges, notes Intissar Fakir, a fellow and editor in chief of Sada in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. The boycotts, which were launched online last April, speak to many Moroccans’ concerns about their ability to afford the rising cost of living, she writes for DIWAN:

In October 2017 the king promised a “political earthquake” to spur the political class into action. In July 2018 he gave another speech lamenting the lack of progress and admitted that something was “missing.” In the past, the monarchy often sought, even superficially, to generate a sense of optimism. But increasingly today the king is no longer providing an anchor for popular discontent. Instead his recent speeches have reflected rising frustration that could potentially pave the way for tighter monarchical control and the further curtailment of political freedoms.

Credit: Morocco World News

“The paradox is that the king already has great power, so that if nothing is done to ameliorate the situation, it may reflect badly on the monarchy itself,” Fakir adds. “Meanwhile, as the boycotts have shown, Moroccans are looking for alternative ways to bring about change.” RTWT

The growing threats to Saudi Arabia’s modernising leader, highlight the challenges of incremental reform in Arab autocracies, says analyst Victoria Mackay. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 33, is seeking to improve his country’s austere image in the West. But his reforms have reignited unrest in the kingdom, she writes for The New Statesman.

The presence of Islamists in the parliaments of various Arab countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Morocco has led to the emergence of Islamic democracy, such as Tunisia’s Ennahda, and the maturing of democratic transformation in the other countries, argues Saudi analyst Jamal Khashoggi.

There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it, he writes for The Washington Post:

A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed. It seems clear then that the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives.

“The Arab regimes’ war on the Brotherhood does not target the movement alone, but rather targets those who practice politics, who demand freedom and accountability, and all who have a popular base in society,” Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, explains.

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