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Symbol of Unity

Here’s another quote from my interview with Reb. The question I was responding to was whether Moroccans are satisfied or dissatisfied with their form of government. I could have given the official line that the monarchy is a sacred institution no Moroccan would tamper with, but of course it’s more complicated than that!

    A lot of Moroccans will tell you that the king is necessary for the unity of the country. I’m sure that if Moroccans had a chance to vote on whether to keep the king or not, they would say to keep the king by a large majority because…they have been persuaded that the king is the one thing that Moroccans have in common. Morocco hasn’t evolved its politics beyond the tribal level to a sufficient degree to hold the country together. You’ve got regional interests like the Rif and the Atlas, and you’ve got the important political families that are in competition with each other, like the Al Fassi family, which runs the Istiqlal party, so a lot of political parties are basically representing a collection of important political personalities rather than having a platform that they stick to. Even the socialists, I think, are more a collection of personalities, so people have broken off and formed other socialist parties that are more true socialists, because they feel that the USFP has become too much an apparatus of their leaders. Morocco is a political system with 37 official parties, and as a result various regions and groups don’t even participate, like Al Adl Wal Ihssane that represents at least a couple of hundred thousand people is excluded from the political process. The Berbers feel excluded. The Rif tried to secede after independence and they were put down by Hassan II when he was still the crown prince, so ever since, you’ve got a strong sentiment there at least among some people [doubting] about even wanting to be part of Morocco. With all that, the king really is the only force that can claim to transcend all that division, and represent all of Morocco. So there are a lot of Moroccans that feel that they need the king, like it or not. Whatever disagreement they have with the political system as it is, they don’t want it overturned because there would be some kind of civil war like in Algeria. And they respect him for giving stability. They may be the only Arab country that hasn’t had a civil war in the last 50 years.

For more of my thoughts on the Moroccan monarchy, see this post from November 2006, and also this.


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