Chatting With the Prince

I’m afraid I’m about to do a real narcistic thing: This is a post about me (and that of others: namely Lamiaa, Hajjar, Kareem, Abdelilah and Jane) having a chat on today’s Moroccan legislative elections with Hicham Ben Abdallah Al Alaoui, the cousin of Mohamed VI (the king of Morocco), on the BBC’s phone-in program, World Have Your Say.

Call me egoistic, self-centered, self-loving, stuck-up, vain, vainglorious (these are all the synonyms of the word narcistic I could found on Dictionary.com). Notwithstanding, I invite anyone reading this, to listen to this conversation (Thanks to Abdelilah, from the blog of whom, I got this audio player stuff ):

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What I Think:

Only an inclusive system accepting Muslim-Democratic parties can appease the conservatives in the wider Muslim world, provided that those parties play within the democratic framework as it is internationally recognized, alongside parties who may not have religious reference, and provided, of course that genuine, fair and transparent rules are applied on everybody. That’s definitely not the case in Morocco where -as I previously wrote- the constitution provides considerable preeminence to the king and his lieutenants. Prince Hisham himself in the aforementioned conversation (and I was agreeably surprised by that), referred to the Moroccan monarchy, at one point, as an absolute monarchy if we stick to the text of the constitution and the many articles who help the King’s claim for absolute supremacy. He also added that in his view, the elections will be more a continuity of the previous experience than a real rupture with the past.

To understand what is going on in the Cherifian Kingdom of Morocco, one should first admit that there is a large consensus for the monarchic system as a guarantor of the stability of the country. A support that could be partly explained by the History of the institution itself which is 12 centuries old, hence deeply rooted in Moroccan psyche. The second aspect that one should be aware of, is that there are three players in the Moroccan political scene:

  • The King and the economic and military establishment around him (referred to in Morocco as, the Makhzen)
  • The Islamists or conservatives, whether radical or ‘moderate’ (whatever that term may mean)
  • and the secularists and supporters of liberal and progressive politics

The latter group is the weakest, as a result of years of harassment by the Makhzen (sometimes with the help of western governments), internal corruption and greed.

I’m afraid, the biggest winner in these elections will be the party of abstention; it would be interesting to check out the turnout figures.

The central power still is oblivious to the basic urgent needs of the country. Morocco is like a very ill patient who needs intensive care, but who is being given an aspirin tablet every five years.

(the picture is a patchwork of both the images of the King and his cousin, taken from “casafree.com“)

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12 thoughts on “Chatting With the Prince

  1. mabrouk hisham, very well done! It’s a real breath of fresh air to hear Moroccans speak out in a sharp and frank manner about the perverse nature of our regime. We really need more of this! Please continue the good work!
    If you ever have time, i would like to know your thoughs about the ‘change’ in the regime, in the profound sense of the world. Which scenario for a ‘better future’ do you think would work or would be viable?
    I’ve long been a revolutionary (and still am to a certain extend) – in the sense that i really didn’t believe in a real change as long as the current regime wasn’t put down. Now I see that i’m more and more allowing myself to explore a reformist strategy, where the ‘old’ doesn’t need to be put down to create ‘new’ circumstances.
    In either cases, however, a profound change is needed (starting with not only the democratical structure, but also the economical/social structures of Moroccan society).
    Also, I was wondering, do you believe this phase of opposition for the USFP could also be a ‘new’ opportunities for the creation and strengthening of alliances between movements of the left, or am I being too utopian?

  2. Btw: when using the term ‘reformist’ I dissociate myself from its mainstream connotation. When I say that I allow myself to explore the reformist-strategy, I mean that a substantial change of the power structures maybe occur without a radical overthrow of the monarchic structure.

    But… As I’m writing these words and seriously thinking about this option, I feel that it is actually very naive… (i.c. to believe in the reformist-option, not the revolution)

    Looking forward to your comments.

  3. Hisham, sorry I missed this, but thanks for inviting me! I’m on a weird schedule where I sleep in the daytime 😉 so it was all over before I saw your comment. Anyway I’m glad you had fun, expressed yourself, and put it up for the rest of us to check out!

  4. @Nadia: Dear Nadia;
    I wouldn’t have the arrogance to claim that I have a clear cut diagnosis on what to do and how to do, in the face of the terrible injustices facing our countrymen and women and how to see our beloved and gorgeous country freed at last from the shackles of either the Makhzen or Religious obscurantism. I have to confess, I, myself, have recurrent doubts on how to rationalize on these complex matters. And don’t worry my dear, you’re perfectly entitled to your opinions, fears and doubts. to be honest, I would much rather prefer a naive compassionate dreamer, to some congenital arrogants who think they have found the holy grail.
    As for my politics (now I sound pompous… I hate that! 🙂 ): I (modestly) believe in evolutionary (rather than revolutionary) politics (whatever the term revolutionary may mean) and non violent political dissent. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not a pacifist: if some one looks for a fight with me, he won’t be disappointed ;). What I mean is that it is strategically sound to confront deeply rooted regimes by non violent means. It’s more cost-effective as it had been largely documented. You would be surprised, Nadia, by the number of non-violent creative ways to put pressure on a regime and get your voice heard.
    I also believe in progressive politics (some would call them Left-wing politics… I have no problem with that characterization, apart from the fact that it sounds too French to me 🙂 ) which stand for Humanism, equality of opportunity, solidarity (what’s the point of living in a society if people don’t help others out, especially those who cannot afford doing it on their own?), liberty (of thought and conscience among others…) and last but not least, the value of justice (social, economic… whatever).
    Of course, as I previously said, we are still in Morocco, in a phase of pre-democratic struggle. Until the democracy we all dream of is established, we ought to continue, patiently, steadily, each one on his level, fighting for this noble goal.
    As for the Monarchy: Many believe, as I do, that it has a role to play in our hypothetical future democratic Morocco. Let me explain: Morocco is made up of countless ethnic groups, and is periodically (as we witnessed during these elections) shaken by numerous regionalist claims. Not to mention the costly, protracted issue of Western Sahara. And Religious extremism which is another layer of complexity in modern Moroccan politics. The monarchy (if the king and those around him understand it) can “transform itself into an institution of arbitration”: the words (I kid you not) of the cousin of the king himself, heard last friday on the BBC.

    Finally, Nadia I want to cordially thank you for your kind words. Feel absolutely free to disagree with me on any topic and subject you’d like.
    P.S.: If you want to read further on progressive politics, I highly recommend the links on the “Progressive Links”, “This is Good For Your Health” and “Blogroll” sections on my modest blog.

    Keep up the good spirit my dear!

  5. @Abdelilah: Thank you my friend for your help. I’ll fix it right away. What would have become of me, if your wise help wasn’t there! 🙂

    @eatbees: Hi mate! I would have loved to hear you on the show. It would have been a hell of a program! Next time I will scream to wake you up… what do u think 🙂

  6. tres interessante l’emission, pk ça n’as pas été médiatisé avant sa realisation.
    en tout les cas, c’est interessant pour les étrangers, mais pour les marocains tout ce qui a été dis est bien connu, ce qui n’est pas connu c’est comment changer cette réalité??

  7. @mazagan: l’emission est en fait un programme interactif qui (selon ses auteurs) evolue en fonction de ce que choisissent les auditeurs. Donc à priori çà n’a pas été programmé à l’avance. Et de toute façon mon cher, même si c’etait le cas, et connaissant les “problèmes” du Prince avec Wald 3ammou, je pense que nos chers médias l’aurait zappé de toute façon.
    Permet moi, mazagan (Jdida c’est çà?) de ne pas du tout être d’accord avec toi sur le fait que sous pretexte que le sujet abordé est “connu” par les Marocains, qu’il ne faille pas en parler. D’abord parceque nombre de nos compatriotes sont en total déni par rapport au vrai problème à la base de “la sclérose en place” du pays (j’ai nommé l’Makhzen), ensuite parceque tant que personne n’en parle, peu de gens oseront s’aventurer à le faire. Et non, mon cher, çà nous interesse (nous les Marocains) plus que (ce que tu appelle) les etrangers.
    Maintenant, en ce qui concerne la solution, je t’invite vivement à te joindre aux efforts de la société civile Marocaine, et aux milliers de militants, journalistes, activistes sur le terrain et sur la Blogosphère pour faire pression, réveler les realités telle qu’elles sont, donner la parole à ceux pour qui les micros de l’Ida3a l’Watania sont toujours off, ceux à qui on prive l’accés aux médias publiques, à prendre des risques et à arrêter de confondre les causes et les conséquences.
    Très heureux en tout cas, cher ami de ta visite. Qu’elle ne soit pas la dernière.

  8. wow too many expert about the political situation in morocco you guys each one of you shouuld set up his or her own political party then we will have 44 parties that will solve all the hiccups in morocco from reforming the monarchy ,solving the unemployment ,housing to even baning ((loubia)) from the menu cause any nation that eat too much of loubia produce mainley crtics

  9. @tangerino: Hi there. I didn’t really get your point, but I detect a little note of sarcasm in your comment. Why don’t you enlighten us with your wisdom tangerino? you’re much welcome

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