The Moorish Wanderer

The Imperial Sultanate of Morocco & The Western Sahara

I have been racking my brain on the subject for quite a while: why is it always the monarchy that has the initiative to announce things, to decide for all of us, and most of all, negotiate on our behalf the crucial issue of the Sahara dispute without the slightest consultation with the people of Morocco, whose money and lives, and resources are generously spent and used with no involvement on their part.

Oh, but I have forgotten: we have this undying covenant between the King and his People, following which His Majesty has an unlimited mandate to do as He pleases, while the loyal subjects await His good pleasure. And in matters like the Sahara dispute, elegantly dubbed ‘matters of territorial integrity’ there is a crypto-fascistic tendency to demand absolute unity. Let us then lecture the regime and his supporters on their arrogant nationalism: How come true patriots have been betrayed when, in 1957-1958 their passionate involvement was on the verge to take back a still occupied territory?

How come that very same monarchy preferred to focus on consolidating its hegemonic grip on independent Morocco, rather than try to realize its independence in its unity? Why is that the same regime quickly abdicated its claim on Mauritania, yet falls in incredible harshness on those who call for a dissident view on the Sahara dispute? And finally, why are we celebrating the Green March, a cynical and nationalistic move engineered by an unpopular and isolated monarch?

To be sure, the monarchy has long since lost any claim for moral leadership on the matter, and subsequently it can no longer be the sole originator of proposals to the Polisario. It is high time The Radical and Liberal side outflanked them on the ‘original’ autonomy proposals.

Above anything else, I am a staunch proponent of the federalist option. As it is, I would go even further when it comes to the Sahara region. As the Late King Hassan II himself once said: ‘aside the Flag and Stamps, everything is negotiable’. Well, let’s negotiate everything then: The proposal calls for the establishment of a joint sovereignty, stylized as the ‘Kingdom of Morocco and the Western Sahara’, or to remain faithful to our heritage, ‘The Imperial Sultanate of Morocco and the Western Sahara’.

Sucessive Defense Walls, 1982-1985

Funny, isn’t it? No, I didn’t smoke pot, nor did I indulge in some heavy drinking. I mean, if we can stand idly by and look on the blatant contradictions between an Islam-based absolutist monarchy, and the more-than-symbolic Western features of the present system, then we might as well just bow and follow the herd of politically correct behaviour: clap when the King announces a shallow reform, frown whenever our ‘sacred unity’ is threatened and shut up and look the other way when the police apparatus beats up or tortures the dissidence.

Let us remain true to our past history and retain its distinguished symbols: we had no king in Morocco. The very concept of Kingdom is disgustingly Western. Why not keep the monarchical system, but instead stylize the Monarch as the “Imperial Majesty, the Sultan Of Morocco”? If we are to retain the monarchical regime (against which I cast no definite hostility, nor do I engage in sheer alacrity) then we might as well take back the old styles. That’s what a genuine Parliamentary Monarchy is about: the Monarch retains the honours, the titles, the Protocol, but relinquishes all powers to the People’s representatives. Why, we might even look back and feel as proud about symbols like the Evening Retreat, or some ceremony performed by Scarlet-clad Royal Guardsmen as we would when referred to the Moroccan monarch as “His (or Her) Imperial Majesty”.

Now, I referred to an alternative autonomy plan that would devolve virtually all powers (save for the regular sovereign ones, i.e. the Armed Forces, the Foreign Representation and Legal Tender Monopoly). The style “Of Morocco and Western Sahara” means that, within the same entity, the Imperial Sultanate, a Moroccan Kingdom and a Sahrawi Republic vow to seal an unbreakable pact to remain together as one country. The Flag and the Stamp, as well as the essential features of sovereignty remain indeed untouched.

This, of course, is but what the proposal aims to achieve. Details would of course entail a great deal of debate, but beforehand, let us take a look at the official proposal for Autonomy; To be fair, the proposals are very advanced, but there remains the roadblock for genuine democracy, the royal fetters that hold back the will of the people; Indeed:

[4]. Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to all Sahrawis, inside as well as outside the territory, that they will hold a privileged position and play a leading role in the bodies and institutions of the region, without discrimination or exclusion.
[5]. Thus, the Sahara populations will themselves run their affairs democratically, through legislative, executive and judicial bodies enjoying exclusive powers.  They will have the financial resources needed for the region’s development in all fields, and will take an active part in the nation’s economic, social and cultural life.
[6]. The State will keep its powers in the royal domains, especially with respect to defense (sic), external relations and the constitutional and religious prerogatives of His Majesty the King.
[7]. The Moroccan initiative, which is made in an open spirit, aims to set the stage for dialogue and a negotiation process that would lead to a mutually acceptable political solution.
[12]. In keeping with democratic principles and procedures, and acting through legislative, executive and judicial bodies, the populations of the Sahara autonomous Region shall exercise powers, within the Region’s territorial boundaries, mainly over the following:
· Region’s local administration, local police force and jurisdictions;
· in the economic sector: economic development, regional planning, promotion of investment, trade, industry, tourism and agriculture;
· Region’s budget and taxation;
· infrastruture (sic): water, hydraulic facilities, electricity, public works and transportation;
· in the social sector: housing, education, health, employment, sports, social welfare and social security;
· cultural affairs, including promotion of the Saharan Hassani cultural heritage;
· environment.
[14]. The State shall keep exclusive jurisdiction over the following in particular:
· the attributes of sovereignty, especially the flag, the national anthem and the currency;
· the attributes stemming from the constitutional and religious prerogatives of the King, as Commander of the Faithful and Guarantor of freedom of worship and of individual and collective freedoms;
· national security, external defense (sic) and defense (sic) of territorial integrity;
· external relations;
· the Kingdom’s juridical order.


The proposal itself is a good workable platform, and, provided some other prerogatives are expanded, and the symbolic recognition of the autonomous Sahrawi region as a Republic, the proposal might even induce more Polisario people into either joining the Moroccan cause, or even pressure their leadership into accepting the deal.

There is, however, one catch: the proposals, for all their generosity, cannot be credible if the Makhzen still stifles dissent, concentrates power and uses corruption to maintain itself in power. There is no need to point our that, in the camps, Polisario is even worse when it comes to dealing with dissent. And yet, we need to take the moral high grounds by being purer than pure. The Moroccan democracy, to convince the Tindouf people, needs to be of impeachable integrity. A radical institutional overhaul is more than needed, an essential, but not necessarily sufficient condition.

The proposal retains a few aspects of Sovereignty, but does not go beyond general principles; To be sure, currency will be one. And yet, I can foresee at least one problem, the most important of them all: How will the Central Bank define its currency board? We know, from various sources, that the bank defines Dirham counterpart as 60 to 80% Euro. And yet, the one thing Sahara can supply the world with , Phosphate, is Dollar-labelled. Morocco exports goods mainly to the Euro-zone (and thus, conditions its monetary policy with that of the Euro’s) it also exports Phosphate and gets paid in Dollar. This might be construed as a fickle, but believe you me, even within the official proposed scheme, sooner or later (and rather sooner than later, I would say) troubles about currency value and board will inevitably arise. How can we solve this?

Obviously, if joint sovereignty is to be exercised, so will need to be currency valuation; The Central Bank board needs to reflect a balance in its members, a balance that would be reflected on the Dirham’s value. In this particular issue, there can be expected very little dissent: it will be a mutual incentive to keep the Dirham’s value stable and reach consensus whenever possible, and as far as the currency board is concerned, a change in the Bank’s policy regarding transparency can solve the issue; Instead of decreeing it confidential, the Central Bank needs to be open about it, a further deterrent on the board of representatives not to engage in chaotic argument.

The Union Jack designing process can be useful as as a benchmark to design a new Moroccan flag

Same goes for Police (national security), or even Army; Police staff and establishment can be local (just as in the northern regions) but the Army’s issue is trickier. It’s a bit of a quandary, especially when one considers the Army as a unifying symbol. However, the establishment of an autonomous militia, a National Guard of sorts, can provide a good compromise. As for the Federal Armed Forces, a token invitation to defend the common border completes the picture and forestalls any potential problems on the matter.

So there it is: a complete independence in managing local finances (including bond issue backed by Phosphate receipts) and politics, the only infringement on such autonomy is the payment of a Federal solidarity tax, as well as recipient of Federal funds for infrastructure and the like. And because the union needs to feed on common institutions aside from the Monarch’s, the Republic’s representatives seat in the Federal Supreme Court, the Federal Armed Forces Imperial Staff and the Board of the Central Bank.

Furthermore, the Super-Constitutional powers the King enjoys need to be curtailed, either by transferring them to the Federal Prime Minister (a Chancellor of sorts) or by simply abolishing them altogether. The Faithfuls’ Commandership, and its potentially troublesome extra-constitutional interference with earthly matters, needs to be dealt with in the new constitution. Finally, the Judiciary can be expanded to allow for a separate set of rules in the Sahara. However, and because the Supreme Federal Court would be common to both entities, mechanisms can enforce the widest possible set of similarities in laws and legislative standards.

Why would we therefore need to change the King’s styles and get involved in all minute details? Well, mainly because once such proposal is adopted, there will be a great deal of symbolism to be changed: the National Coat of Arms, which will need to be bifurcated from the Royal one. If it wasn’t for the ambiguous Hassan II‘s statement, I would very much like to see a change in our national flag just like with the Union Jack: some sort of combination that would seal further the union between both entities.

And since we are introducing changes in the symbols of the State, we might as well correct a 50-years old anachronism in the Monarch’s style; We have no King. We can retain the monarchical form if we want it, but the title must change and revert back to the old, multi-millennium style of Imperial Highness, the Sultan.

This is an idle dream. A waste of time. If Polisario bosses keep on being fed by Algerian occult lobbies (and the soon-ousted Colonel Ghaddafi), as long as Moroccan lobbies still benefit from the status-quo, in short, as long as this unholy alliance between reactionary forces everywhere keeps on drawing benefits to the participants, then people from both sides of the wall will still suffer and live in mutual hostility. Time to stand up.

14 Responses

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  1. mouka said, on April 15, 2011 at 14:18

    I will let you in on a little secret: The Makhzen is so retrograde, so outdated, so closed-in, that your federation of Morocco and Sahara will not work. It cannot work. Morocco knows full well that without Algerian support, the Sahara dissent would magically disappear. Algerian support continues because of Spanish support too. But Spain does not have the Polisario camps. Algeria does.
    This is a local chess game that has been playing out for almost four decades now.
    What I personally think is that the Sahara “problem” will no longer be, simply because Algeria is feeling the freedom tsunami sweeping the MENA region.
    Another key player that is out of the equation is Gadhafi. He was a major supporter to the Polisario. With Gadhafi out of the equation, probably for ever, the Sahara problem becomes less intractable as it did previously.
    The Makhzen knows full well what’s going on. The Sahraouis themselves know that too.
    Have you noticed something interesting? There were NO protests or people on the streets of Layoune, or some other Sahara city. I have been intrigued and puzzled by this lack of protest. They had a golden historical opportunity her,e, and yet, nothing has happened.
    Now, I am as much a dreamer and idealist as you are. I think that a Moroccan federation would be a great idea, but the Makhzen cannot go beyond the regionalization that’s already in place. It can improve it, it can widen its scope and reach, but it will not switch it to a federation, the reason being is that the King will lose a lot of his powers.

  2. Imad said, on April 15, 2011 at 18:23

    I want to personally thank the king of Morocco for releasing unjustly sentenced people. To all those involved in Tazamamart 2, your day will come.

  3. Imad said, on April 15, 2011 at 18:25

    The king of Morocco needs to know that he’s fooling nobody but himself and whatever happens from now on, he will be remembered as a big dictator just like his criminal father and if all goes well, his son will inherit a monstrous social and financial time-bomb.

  4. mouka said, on April 15, 2011 at 20:40

    I forgot to tell you the little secret:
    My father was an officer in the Moroccan army. He was an officer with the “Makhzen Mobile”, aka “Merda”.
    They were deployed in the Sahara just after the so called “green march”. They had bolt-operated guns that would have been considered outdated in world-war 1, yes, world war 1!!!
    Anyway, they had a mission to go and blow up a poisoned well. At the time, 1976, there were no roads, so they had to use dry beds of rivers that rarely see a drop of water. They actually were able to get to the well and blow it up with dynamite. But on their way back, they were ambushed by better equipped Polisario. The Polisario men had AK47s and RPGs, my dad’s men were outgunned. They were simply slaughtered. Out of 104 men, only 7 survived miraculously, they were left for dead by the Polisario. Some men were butchered, yes butchered, as we ceremoniously do it with sheep during Eid Al Adha. The Polisario does not take prisoners, at least, not at that time. The dead were left for a week to dry rot or serve as food to desert creatures.
    Here’s the funny part, it wasn’t funny at the time, I was only 10 when this happened. We knew within one day what happened, news travel very fast in the army ranks. But the Moroccan government at the time, under the very wise rule of Hassan 2, was in denial that there was a Sahara “problem”. Morocco did not recognize the Polisario until the early 1980’s. So we were left in limbo for 5 years. No one ever came to us and told us what happened.
    Here’s another gem of how Morocco is run by incompetent idiots: The entire company, my dad’s company, was buried in a large hole. without any form of honoring them for their sacrifice. We don’t even know where our dad’s tomb is. All I know is that it’s somewhere in the Sahara desert. I was told that my dad was so disfigured, by all the desert creatures that feasted on him and his men, that he was recognized only by a little tattoo he had in his hand.
    Do you expect anything positive out of a government that treats its soldiers this way?
    I personally have never had any high hopes for a Moroccan take off. As long as we are ruled by the same idiots, Morocco will be the shit hole it is now.
    I have some other interesting gems from my personal dealing with the Moroccan torture experts, I will share them one of these days.
    We are ruled by complete incompetent idiots whose only merit is to know who rules the land: The king. The Moroccan government does not have a program, they can’t have a program, they can’t have an agenda. The ONLY program there is is the king’s speech.
    These are the sad facts about Morocco.
    So we can dream all we want about a federation, it’s not those idiots that rule us that can be creative. They only wait for orders from the Mechouar.

    • Zouhair Baghough said, on April 16, 2011 at 21:48


      I am sorry for your loss and the way it happened. That’s Hassan II’s responsibility for not honouring the dead (as you rightfully pointed out, that could not happen because it wasn’t a war!

      I can only understand even more your anger towards the regime.

  5. Imad said, on April 15, 2011 at 23:33

    Very moving story and I share your pessimism about Morocco. As long as tyrants and criminals run it, it will always be a third world country. It will take centuries and the disappearance of this alaouite dynasty for any ray of hope to shine. Morocco is a police state that is far worse than Tunisia or Egypt was. We really are not far off Libya in terms of how the dictator gaddafi ran it, we just look better on tv.

    Enjoy a glimpse of the police state in 2011

  6. Imad said, on April 15, 2011 at 23:38

    Morocco needs many of these. Tunisia and Egypt can export some for sure

  7. mouka said, on April 16, 2011 at 11:20

    I personally am not very religious, and I despise religious bigotry and religious extremism. But what is happening to these religious extremists in Morocco is an absolute shame.
    The Moroccan regime is putting in the same box anyone with a long beard and some political views not aligned with those of the regime.

  8. Imad said, on April 17, 2011 at 13:00

    Please take this opportunity to highlight to EVERYONE the political abuses in Morocco. We do not want any economic development in a dictatorship country.
    The political scene MUST be corrected first before any development can take place.

    Morocco’s industry and commerce minister plans to talk up investment in his north African nation to business leaders in one of the largest Arab-American communities outside the Middle East.

    Ahmed Reda Chami is scheduled to speak Thursday evening to a group of Michigan companies in Dearborn. The dinner is hosted by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.

    The visit comes a week after 20 U.S. business leaders visited Morocco to look at investment opportunities.

    Morocco aims to boost its automotive, aerospace, agribusiness and electronics industries. The U.S. and Morocco have a free-trade agreement.

    Chami’s 10-day U.S. visit also has included scheduled stops in Chicago, New York, Boston, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio.

  9. Links 13-20 April 2011 « said, on April 21, 2011 at 09:25

    […] Activists Regroup After Deadly Crackdown – NYTimes.comMore protests planned for Friday.The Imperial Sultanate of Morocco & The Western Sahara « The Moorish WandererTime to up the ante on Egypt – The Washington PostIgnatius wants more money spent on Egypt. […]

  10. van kaas said, on April 25, 2011 at 21:31

    Just came across this post and have to say I like it. Maybe it’s an idle dream but it’s more beautiful as the original autonomy proposal.

  11. […] The Imperial Sultanate of Morocco & The Western Sahara ( […]

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