Morocco Geopolitics

Morocco Geopolitics

The Kingdom of Morocco, independent from France and Spain since 1956, has always played a strategic role in commercial traffic to and from the Strait of Gibraltar. In this sense, it is significant that Morocco has entered into important commercial partnerships over the years and signed over 50 bilateral free trade agreements, both with the countries of the northern shore of the Mediterranean (primarily with the European Union), as well as with the USA, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan and, more recently, with China, India, Japan and several other Latin American, African and Eastern European economies.

Traditionally open to cooperation with Western powers, on the regional side, from a political point of view, Morocco experiences the most controversial relations with some of its neighbors, especially Algeria.

The two countries are divided by a historical rivalry, which over the decades has maintained the state of bilateral relations constantly in tension. The Algerian support for the Polisario Front, the independence group that opposes Rabat in the dispute over the sovereignty of Western Sahara, weigh heavily on these., as well as the disputes related to the territorial definition of the common border (closed since 1994) and the management of illegal immigration flows. On the other hand, relations with two other important regional players such as Tunisia and Libya are better, even if fluctuating, while the economic and political ties with the states of the Arabian Peninsula are particularly intense, which they have proposed to Morocco, together with Jordan, to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), although the negotiations are still suspended.

Problems of disputed sovereignty over some territories along the Mediterranean coast of Morocco (the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla) also exist with Spain. However, relations with Madrid have improved significantly in recent years. The volume of trade is progressively increasing, cooperation in the action to combat the illicit trafficking of people and goods, especially drugs, is growing and both countries show that they want to regulate the flows of Moroccan labor, attracted by the labor market. Spanish.

Intense economic and commercial relations also exist with the US. The Washington-Rabat axis has also strengthened around a close partnership and military policy, consolidated after 2001, thanks to the strong partnership that the Moroccan Kingdom has guaranteed to U know in the fight against Islamist terrorism, it has been sealed by the transfer to Morocco of the status of ‘Non- Born Major Us Ally’. Another important Moroccan partner is the European Union, with which the country signed an association agreement which came into force in March 2000. Since 2004, Rabat has also agreed to strengthen the partnership with Brussels by setting up a cooperation table in which to discuss the fight against terrorism, the fight against drug trafficking, control of illegal immigration flows, economic and social development plans. Morocco has joined the European Union’s Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) program, which should establish an even closer relationship with Brussels, already Rabat’s first trading partner today. Furthermore, Morocco is the largest recipient of European assistance programs under the European Neighborhood Policy in the Mediterranean.

The existing tensions between Morocco and Algeria have been one of the major obstacles to the full development of cooperation in the North African region. This happened for example with the Arab Maghreb Union, the regional common market launched in 1989 to create a free market area between Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The tensions between the two states have so far also jeopardized the coordination of anti-terrorist activity, which would be particularly necessary in view of the cross-border nature of the terrorist organizations active along the border between Morocco and Algeria. Al-Qaeda operations in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim). Finally, another peculiarity of Morocco’s foreign policy is linked to the question of Western Sahara: that of being the only African state that is not part of the African Union (Au). Rabat retired by the Organization of African Unity (the predecessor of the A u) in 1984, when it recognized the independence of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic, disavowing the Moroccan claims on the region.

Morocco is governed by a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament elected according to democratic rules. Since July 1999 the king is Mohammed VI, successor of Hassan II, in turn preceded by Mohammed V, the father of Moroccan independence.

The constitutional reform of 1996, subsequently amended in March 2011 following the protests in the context of the Arab Spring, entrusted legislative power to a bicameral Parliament, composed of the House of Representatives and that of Councilors. The first is made up of 395 seats, of which 60 are reserved for women, assigned by universal suffrage every five years, while the second is made up of 120 members indirectly elected, for a term of six years, by local assemblies, professional organizations and trade unions.

The first truly democratic elections, protected from electoral fraud, were those of 1997, which saw the Moroccan left, long marginalized despite the strong consensus in the country, form a government coalition led by the historic leader of the Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires , Abderrahmane Youssoufi. The arrival in the government of a center-left majority marked the start of a new phase of Moroccan politics, characterized by alternation. From the end of the nineties, therefore – coinciding with the end of the almost forty-year reign of Hassan II, marked by serious limitations to civil and political liberties – a process of democratization began which led to a multi-party system,

The electoral and democratic competition is still today limited by the three so-called ‘sacred limits’: the king, Islam and the question of Western Sahara. Furthermore, the internal political landscape is characterized by a great fragmentation in the party offer, which forces governments to form broad coalitions. For Morocco government and politics, please check

In 2007, 33 parties and over 13 groups of independent candidates stood before the voters. In that electoral round, the Independence Party (Parti de l’Istiqlal, Pi), close to the monarchy and traditional point of reference for both conservatives and nationalists, returned to win. The P ihowever, he failed to retain power in the early elections of November 2011, following the protests of the Arab Spring and the constitutional changes desired by the king to stem the growing popular discontent. The relative majority was won for the first time by the moderate Islamist Justice and Development party (Parti de la justice et du développement), which leads the executive formed by a coalition of parties of which Istiqlal is also a part.

The victory of the PJD took place in the wake of protests which, in some countries, brought Islamist party formations to power. Contrary to other realities, however, the Moroccan Islamists have shown no interest in putting an end to the monarchical regime, although their relations with the king in the years preceding the electoral victory were at times stormy. Furthermore, it is interesting to underline that the PJD is the only Islamic party, together with the Tunisian Ennahda, which ruled between 2011 and 2014 in coalition with other political forces and not exclusively, as happened in the short interlude of the Muslim Brotherhood. in power in Egypt between 2012 and 2013.

The worsening of the economic crisis and the failure to implement reforms led Istiqlal to leave the ruling coalition on 10 July 2013. This officially opened a crisis which returned – after a few months of negotiations – on 10 October with the formation of a new center-right executive, composed of the Islamists of Justice and Development, the conservatives of the Mouvement populaire (MP), the Rassemblement National des Indépendents (Rni) and the Parti du Progrès et du Socialisme. Despite a good result in the local elections of September 2015, the Pjdhe lost the majority in the upper house following the electoral round of the following October. The result compromised the effectiveness of government action and above all questioned the Islamic party’s ability to obtain a sufficient majority in the upcoming 2016 elections.

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