Sunday, October 1, 2023

Misunderstood Sovereignty | Opinion

A week after the earthquake that devastated a large region of Morocco, the death toll – it is already at 3,000 – is as open as the destruction: The earthquake has reduced numerous towns and villages in the Atlas and ruins to rubble. damaged or demolished around twenty historic buildings, including some in the city of Marrakesh. We must highlight the wave of solidarity that the victims have generated, especially in Morocco itself, but also in France and Spain, the closest European countries, where there is a larger population of Moroccan origin and where much of the tourism comes from. Massively and regularly the neighboring country.

But the misfortune that normally unites the most diverse people does not always have the same effect on its elites. This is evident in the contrast between the quick and generous response of ordinary citizens and the Moroccan government’s jealous approach to receiving aid. In their case, the idea of ​​a strong state that takes full control of the destinies of its people and administers aid according to its political expediency and without any outside interference takes precedence over the urgency and gravity of the tragedy. Although Algeria immediately opened its airspace to facilitate the arrival of foreign aid, the criteria by which Rabat rejected Algerian aid are clear. The border between the two countries remains closed after they broke off diplomatic ties two years ago as their disagreements over Western Sahara intensified. What has led, however, is that in addition to the help of Spain, it has also accepted the help of the distant Qatar and the United Arab Emirates or, again in Europe, that of the United Kingdom – without taking into account the Moroccan position in the Sahrawi conflict – but not that of France, the former colonial power.

As with the earthquake that devastated Agadir more than 60 years ago, the weakness of the clay structures and an epicenter very close to the surface have now exacerbated the destruction and increased the number of dead and injured. In addition, the rescue had faced great difficulties due to poor communication in such a mountainous area where public investments were scarce and forgotten. And as in Al Hoceima in 2004, delays in aid and slow response from authorities have fueled discontent among those affected.

Despite modernization efforts and the 2011 constitutional reform, the verticality of monarchical power in Morocco, permeated by theocratic representation, forces citizens to resign themselves to death in the face of every catastrophe and to submit to the plans of a usual king, while their peers in the Arab world prefer to live away from their subjects in residences in tourist areas or in western capitals. The opaque and slow leadership of the government and the royal family, the austerity of their statements and appearances, the silence of the crown holder and the disregard for offers of help from neighboring countries contribute to increasing the distance between the monarchy and the citizens. Sovereignty is presented as a value that takes precedence over solidarity and humanitarian values. If there is one lesson to be drawn from the calamity that has struck Morocco, it is that the quality of its people far exceeds that of its ruling class.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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