Morocco’s First Diplomatic Test Post-Elections

Morocco’s recent position as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council is one that came as a personal surprise for me a few months ago. The new position came before parliamentary elections which yielded a win for the Islamist Party of Justice and Development, a task that Foreign Minister Othmani would inherit from his predecessor (who is now currently a royal adviser).

According to Reuters, Morocco will be meeting in France with other members of the Security Council and presenting a draft resolution provided by the Arab League regarding Syria. The article goes into brief detail on this draft and the process behind it:

The Moroccan delegation met on Thursday with Russian and Chinese diplomats to present them with the latest version of the Western-Arab draft resolution, council diplomats told Reuters. It was not immediately clear what their initial response was.

The draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, calls for a “political transition” in Syria. It does not call for U.N. sanctions against Damascus, something Moscow has said it could not support.

Back in mid-November 2011, the Arab League met in Morocco to discuss Syria, a meeting that did not live up to any of its hype. Nothing concrete was accomplished, which doesn’t come as a surprise for most.  As a political observer and as a Moroccan, I did find the choice of meeting in Rabat to be quite interesting. Here is Morocco, a country who like others in the region, is coping with a pro-democracy movement, grappling with authoritative rule and reforms, and an increasingly dire situation, but also attempting to play regional leader and taking a relatively public step in doing so.

The empty chair of the Syrian delegate is seen at the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Rabat, Morocco Photograph: Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP

The choice of Morocco is also advantageous to multiple players involved in the Arab League and the greater political world stage. Morocco’s relationship with the Gulf is stronger than ever, with membership to the GCC still on the table since last May. Morocco’s strained diplomatic ties with Iran since 2009 illustrate its willingness to appease its Gulf allies, especially when billions in investment and aid are involved. Morocco’s geographical proximity to Europe and longstanding ties with the United States and Israel also ensure that the position Morocco would’ve taken regarding Syria would be aligned with all of the major actors who have oppose Bashar, whether for reasons of morality or self-interest.

The next step of taking the matter of Syria to the Security Council has been advocated by many and expected. With Morocco being the only member of the Arab League in the Security Council, it makes sense that the task of relaying Arab League policy to the higher level would be one left for Morocco.  Though, with responsibility comes accountability. For many Syrians, the Security Council is one of the few options left on the table. Should this initiative fail, Morocco will have to answer not just to the people of Syria, but to an entire international community that continues to painfully watch as meetings and resolutions continue to fail.

But hey, no pressure.

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