My latest: On Morocco’s “New” Cabinet

The following is an excerpt for my latest piece on Jadaliyya, contextualizing the recent cabinet changes in Morocco and the political implications behind it:

The fluidity through which parties float from the coalition to the opposition and from the opposition to the coalition reveals more than just the pursuit of political interests (i.e., Istiqlal wanting to disassociate itself from the price hikes on food and fuel). This fluid movement practically renders the parliamentary election process in Morocco futile. Even if the parliamentary elections were intended to feed a narrative of a liberalizing political system, the shifting movements of political parties reverses any changes brought about by an electoral process. Moreover, the inability of parties to tow a consistent political line places more reliance on the monarchy as an institution, especially when it constantly intervenes in inter-party disputes at the expense of policy-making. The palace (the king and his shadow cabinet) is increasingly viewed as a stable mediating actor, rather than its true nature as an institution that operates with unchecked powers and impunity. It is through this strategy of capitalizing from the partisan squabbles among political parties that the monarchy has anchored itself in Morocco’s political landscape as a “uniting” and seemingly “necessary” actor.

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The history and politics behind Morocco’s “Throne Day”

The following is an excerpt of a must-read piece I had the privilege of translating with my colleague Allison McManus. It delves into the history behind “Throne Day” in Morocco, how its purpose has evolved to serve those in power, and how it culminated to serve a type of nationalism that builds itself upon centralized authoritarianism in Morocco. It sparked my interest in examining how nationalism in Morocco fed off the monarchy as a component inherent to the “Moroccan nation.” More on that soon…

From its recent creation in 1933, Coronation Day registered as what historians call the “invention of tradition.” That is to say, it was created to establish a set of rituals in order to create a fictitious continuity with the past and instill standards of behavior upon the population in the name of tradition. The promoters of invented traditions choose references and old symbols to respond to the constraints of their times. Under its current form, Hassan II (1961-1999) created this ritual to affirm the monarchy’s centrality and supremacy. It was thus diverted from its original purpose which the nationalists initially intended it to serve: to symbolize and celebrate the Moroccan nation.

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Morocco reacts to events in Egypt: Manipulated discord?

Here’s an excerpt from my latest on Jadaliyya, providing a general overview of the recent statements released from the Moroccan regime, spanning from the palace to high-ranking PJD officials, and what it reveals about the nature of power in Morocco:

As the situation continues to unfold in Egypt, the war of words among pundits on what to describe the ongoing events has made its way to the palace and parliament halls in Morocco. With countering press releases from the palace and the Party of Justice and Development (PJD)-led coalition government, the differing views toward the events in Egypt may appear to illustrate two equal opposing forces within the Moroccan regime. While the king’s message to interim president, Adly Mansour, was congratulatory in nature, the PJD condemned what it called a “coup d’état against a legitimate democracy” through a press release from Abdellah Baha, the Minister of State. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by PJD minister Saâdeddine El Othmani but whose former head and current royal adviser, Taib Fassi-Fihri, acts as the king’s interlocutor in high stakes diplomatic affairs, was more nuanced in its reaction. The ministry neither condemned nor applauded the events, but rather stressed the need for Egypt to “preserve its national unity.” A surface reading of these opposing press releases would suggest that the relationship between these institutions is flat rather than hierarchical. However, there is an underlying objective to push forth such an understanding, as it sustains the narrative that the monarchy is a “neutral” actor in Moroccan politics, rather than placing emphasis on the unchecked power it wields.

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