The Moorish Wanderer

False Patriotism and Other Tricks

The trouble with events like those we witnessed on May 23rd, is that temptation to say: “I told you so”, where pessimism takes over. The sudden stiffening of security measures -most probably prompted by the May 15th daring picnic project around the Temara security compound– may well be a turning point in the extraordinary times our domestic politics is living through. I have this strange image on my mind of the security apparatus behaving like a wild beast, a bit intimidated by demonstrations on February 20th (and those following on March 20th and April 23th) and definitely entrenched in a hostile defence. But when demonstrators wanted to picnic outside the Temara compound (dumbed Guantemara) the security services’ own lair, the latter stroke back, with their customary violence.

The Dark Side of the (Police/Merda/CMI) Force is taking over, and the Temara headquarters is their Death Star.

Two events put security forces back into the limelight, namely the Marrakesh bombings and the Temara affair. It is basically a sequential, repeated chicken game between the movement and the authorities: at every stage of this process, Feb20 chose the radical outcome, and one way or the other, got away with it. The first stage was the demonstration itself. Regime made some incredible threats, but the demonstration took place nonetheless. Then after the King’s Speech on March 9th, authorities approached the movement for a possible negotiation on the constitutional reforms, they refused to be associated with the commission; At every stage, Feb20 forced the outcome and turned the tables. But the successive blows these last weeks ring out as a recovery of old stick-and-stick policy our security people have been trained and educated for. As a matter of fact, planned demonstration next Sunday, May 29th are going to determine the movement’s next course of action.

If they fail again to mobilize enough people around Morocco, then our Evolution -in contrast with Revolutions in other parts of the MENA region– is likely to be a short fuse, and the Silent Majority, those who do not demonstrate every week, might well slip back into political apathy. This is even more crucial when considering that the movement does not have the power to set the agenda, the King does. And now time is in favour of the constitutional reform process as designed and prepared by Royal advisers; The margin shifts back to the Empire, and the Rebels are so pressed for time.

Referendum day is now scheduled July 1st. This is the only public date available (with no official confirmation yet) and was leaked to the general public, probably as a heads-up to some move in the coming month (June?) on May 18th Khalid Hariry MP mentioned the date on his twitter feed

Proposition Min. Interieur aux partis: “referendum 1 juillet, législatives 7 octobre” ouverture parlement 14 octobre

Mr Hariry may be just an ordinary Member of Parliament, but his social media activism (there aren’t much Moroccan ministers and MPs on twitter, or posting on their personal blogs around) is a convenient way to get the message out about the hidden agenda -first rule of Moroccan politics, the authorities always have a hidden agenda. This is not paranoia, it is only empirical observation. So the Interior Minister tells the MPs that referendum day might be on July 1st, with General Elections on October 7th, and most probably the new parliament in session for October 14th. That means high up, there is confidence these elections will yield some strong majority, or that party leaders will be amenable to any deal presented to them for some government coalition; better still, the old line of ‘national unity’ government following the new constitution might be appealing to mainstream political parties and large scores of Moroccan public.

This ‘rumour’ (there is no official communication about it yet) has also been mentioned by TelQuel Magazine mentioned on their edition May 19th-20th (about the same day) that the Commission has been asked to make haste on their draft:

Dernière ligne droite pour la Commission consultative pour la révision de la Constitution (CCRC). Le cabinet royal aurait demandé à la Commission d’accélérer la cadence afin de rendre sa copie, avant la fin du mois de mai, au lieu de mi-juin. En parallèle, les listes électorales sont en cours d’actualisation dans la perspective du référendum.

So we might be expecting some news on the issue by the end of this week, most likely early June. Are these good or bad news? From the dissidence’s point of view, this is disaster. Because everyday Referendum day gets closer, and when Moroccan citizens go to the polls and vote massively in favour of the proposed draft, then Feb20 movement will lose one of its remaining legitimacies, i.e. a certain representation among the people.

Repression is still there, and kicking. More than ever. (Pic from Demain Online)

I have disillusioned myself quite early on the outcome of this referendum. What I can hope for, on the other hand, is that the combined numbers of boycott (or blank votes) and the ‘No’ Vote would be large enough (say at least 30% of total electoral corps) to build up on a civic platform that would wage large demonstrations from time to time, perhaps venture to publish some alternative proposals, until it forces another reform, this time more amenable to its own agenda. As for the possibility of a swift political confrontation on July or September, or the likelihood of a mass boycott, I foresee it to be very unlikely.

I also keep thinking about the following scenario: the latest declarations of our own Ron Ziegler, Mr Khalid Naciri (Communications Minister and government spokesman) are very worrying, because the explicit criticism made on the May 23rd demonstrations was that Al Adl and Left-wingers (he did not specify which ones, certainly not his own PPS party) manipulated the youth, and were also guilty of their lack of patriotism. After his blunt denial of any torture infrastructure at the Temara Compound, Minister Naciri only confirms his favourite line, which brands dissidents and ‘nihilists‘ as potentially traitors to the nation and fully-paid foreign agents.

When one considers the previous referendums, the late King Hassan II resorted more than often to this ‘Patriotism’ line (this seem to confirm what S. Johnson said about scoundrels and patriotism) to appease opposition parties and elicit their support for his constitutional projects. Istiqlal was more than often ready to do his bidding, but overall Koutla parties held steady, especially on the 1992 Referendum, but not so much on 1996. The subsequent Alternance was also the result of this alluring proposal to save the country. Former Prime Minister Abderrahamane Youssoufi -as well as his USFP party- still justify their compromise by stating that “Morocco was in danger“. All elements indicate the same old tricks will be used and followed by the gullible.

It’s a bit overconfident -and peculiar- of the Interior Minister to tell Members of Parliament about the project of holding elections straight after referendum (spare August for a Ramadanesque truce), and even more brazen, to call parliament in session ten days after elections. It means there’s strong confidence a government with a workable majority has been formed, or that the King stepped in and called for a National Unity government (a governmental consensus built around the new constitution, presumably). I don’t know why I keep thinking about this. Perhaps because for many mainstream politicians, Feb20 has shaken their monopoly over partisan politics, so they would only too obligingly gather and denounce the demonstrations as unpatriotic and revert back to the old accusations of  ‘Commies, Atheists, Faggots, Islamists and Pro-Polisario‘.

Because of the security tightening, the old mantra of Fifth Column accusations will be yet again put to use to discredit the movement. Last Sunday, ordinary citizens stood idly by while demonstrators were beaten up. If things do get worse, the young people might be branded as traitors and lose whatever sympathy they might enjoy among the Silent Majority. This June will certainly turn out to be the moment of truth, both for the constitutional reform and Feb20’s future as an alternative movement.

8 Responses

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  1. minibixx said, on May 25, 2011 at 14:47

    Good Article, strong analysis, and some touches of your personnal humour😉
    I love it

    I would just like to remind something to the readers, when we say that police brutality is back we’re not experiencing (and hope we’ll never experience it) Syrian or even Tunisian or Egyptien repression style… We can all admit that the kind of repression we witness is closer to the ones you see in Uk, France, or even US when people gather against G8/G20 or anyother kind of mass protests. Police aren’t ‘massacring’ the Moroccan people and Blood is not flowing like rivers in the streets, and the cities of Morocco aren’t under siege or civil war (like some kept writing and twitting non-stop)

    So thank you Moorish for not falling into extremism or provocation in your message ! The Star Wars analogy is great by the way.

    I really hope the people who decide to go out on the next gathering will be safe and sound, and that both sides will try to refrain provocation and propaganda (one can dream)

  2. mouka said, on May 25, 2011 at 16:09

    @minibixx
    This is an open forum, and your input is always welcome. Having said that, your input is so predictable that it’s no fun.
    You consider the beatings as like what happens in the UK or even the US? Have you seen the videos of the brutal beatings of one person in Tangier? Have you seen the brutality of that beating? This happened to be one that was filmed. How about the multitude of beatings that went unnoticed because no one was recording them?
    I guess, you makhzeniens, were never on the receiving end of these beatings. So for you, it was “nothing”. No “blood” was spilled.
    I just hope that one day, you taste the “zarouata” of the “merda” somewhere. Then you can come back and we’ll talk.

  3. minibixx said, on May 25, 2011 at 16:59

    Well your answers don’t come as a suprise either be assured of that😉

    1st remark (important one) : I NEVER said “nothing” you invented that !
    If you think the police beating in french, canada, Us during peaceful anti G8, G20, Bilderberg, and many other gatherings is “nothing” it’s your opinion, I don’t share it. They are better equiped, better organised, but less violent… mmmm… Sorry I doubt it ! (I’ve witnessed some so…)

    2cd with video feature on 100% of the phones today I’m pretty sure 90% of all beating are ending on tape, specially when it’s during group gatherings like 20feb (I even sometimes see the same beating for 2 different cities in Morocco…. recycling is good)

    3rd I didn’t say no “blood” I said it’s not the war state, criminal police crushing masses that some would like to make believe.

    4th : My input is not supposed to be fun🙂

    5th : Again ‘Makhzanien’… aren’t you bored !!?

    6th thank you for going over your hate for me and the likes of me to read me and answer me🙂 That’s a positive sign

  4. mouka said, on May 25, 2011 at 20:24

    @Minibxx
    1st: I don’t hate makhzeniens. I PITY them. The rage with which they beat their countrymen is shocking. Some of them must have such a rage boiling inside that it must be eating them from inside.
    2nd: Since Morocco had had the proposal of the “kings club” to join the GCC. The Moroccan government has unleashed its “dogs” on the February 20th movement. My dad was a “merda”. But he wasn’t of the kind that you see in those videos. He was in fact the exact opposite. He even died because of the incompetence of our leaders. And I mean ALL of our leaders. See what I mean?
    3rd: Makhzenien is the BEST way to describe those that support such a brutal regime. There is NO other word. It’s shorthand for a whole lot of nasty words: Dictatorship, Nepotism, Corruption, Icompetence, ..etc. Don’t you agree that it’s a wonderful word full of historic meanings? I certainly do. You don’t need to answer this question. It’s a rhetorical one. I already know your answer.
    4th: Morocco is heading in the wrong direction. It’s the end result of an executive monarchy that has surrounded itself with a bunch of incompetent idiots whose only merit is to be liked by the king. How else can you explain the enormous deficits? The HUGE debt Morocco will have to pay one day? How else can you explain the lack of job opportunities? How else can you explain the rankings, at the very bottom, of Morocco by human rights groups? How can you explain all of this? Again, these are ALL rhetorical questions. I don’t need to hear your answer. I ALREADY know it.

  5. Anonyme said, on May 25, 2011 at 20:25

    @Minibxx
    1st: I don’t hate makhzeniens. I PITY them. The rage with which they beat their countrymen is shocking. Some of them must have such a rage boiling inside that it must be eating them from inside.
    2nd: Since Morocco had had the proposal of the “kings club” to join the GCC. The Moroccan government has unleashed its “dogs” on the February 20th movement. My dad was a “merda”. But he wasn’t of the kind that you see in those videos. He was in fact the exact opposite. He even died because of the incompetence of our leaders. And I mean ALL of our leaders. See what I mean?
    3rd: Makhzenien is the BEST way to describe those that support such a brutal regime. There is NO other word. It’s shorthand for a whole lot of nasty words: Dictatorship, Nepotism, Corruption, Icompetence, ..etc. Don’t you agree that it’s a wonderful word full of historic meanings? I certainly do. You don’t need to answer this question. It’s a rhetorical one. I already know your answer.
    4th: Morocco is heading in the wrong direction. It’s the end result of an executive monarchy that has surrounded itself with a bunch of incompetent idiots whose only merit is to be liked by the king. How else can you explain the enormous deficits? The HUGE debt Morocco will have to pay one day? How else can you explain the lack of job opportunities? How else can you explain the rankings, at the very bottom, of Morocco by human rights groups? How can you explain all of this? Again, these are ALL rhetorical questions. I don’t need to hear your answer. I ALREADY know it.

  6. minibixx said, on May 25, 2011 at 21:07

    http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock

    Ok just look at this page and see the debt evolution in Morocco from 2000 to 2011.
    Let’s not just invent problems that aren’t even real…

    For the rest I won’t answer because it’s all rethorical questions in your mind.

    • Zouhair Baghough said, on May 25, 2011 at 21:25

      Hi

      You are right that that debt burden eased from 2000 to 2011. However, it was so because Finance Minister Oualalou relied on domestic debt (at times of high liquidity) and he managed to pay off the remaining foreign debt by means of privatization receipts.
      Now that there is almost nothing left to privatize, how are we going to pay back?

      In absolute terms, you are right, debt has deflated over a decade. But the recent governmental pay raise and building inflationary pressure will not spare us in the next 2 to 3 years…

  7. minibixx said, on May 25, 2011 at 21:10

    For those who don’t want to go to the link the debt went from 81% of GDP to 58% (explaining the light color of the country, as the ratio debt/capita)

    Again it’s only an economic figure and I wont enter a debate on these numbers, as they can be interpreted in many different ways.

    Just the evolution seems to be a positive one.


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