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MOROCCO: Protest violence could escalate, intelligence analyst says


Moroccan police beat dozens of protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations and took to the streets of the capital Rabat and Casablanca on Sunday, according to news reports.

Months of protests in the north African nation have led its monarch, Mohammed VI, to make some concessions, but not enough to please protesters. They appeared more defiant Sunday, although their numbers have failed to match the scale of demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia other countries that saw "Arab Spring" uprisings.

Babylon & Beyond spoke Monday with Metsa Rahimi, an intelligence analyst with London-based Janusian Risk Consultancy who specializes in North Africa, about the Moroccan protests.

B&B: Why are people protesting in Morocco?

M.R.: The protests have been going on for three months now, so it’s not necessarily new. It was inspired by other events in other countries in the region back in February, the 20th of February protest movement.

The economy is one of the poorest in the region, dependent on tourism, with a younger population.

In terms of the other monarchies -- there is a sense of loyalty to monarchies, as opposed to self-appointed autocrats, and so they have been less vulnerable to protesters calling for their downfall.

Q: How have Morocco's leaders and security forces responded to the protests?

A: Until now, we haven’t seen a lot of violence in Morocco. It’s all been very moderate. What we’ve seen in the last fortnight, not only has the 20th of February movement become more radical, but the police have begun to use more force.

They didn’t authorize this protest in the capital this weekend which had been authorized in the past. That’s something the protesters can protest against and when that starts to happen, protests escalate. We saw that this weekend, people talking about the makhzen, the elites, you know, "Down with the makhzen! We want more reform, more freedom!" When you start seeing police brutality, people start condemning the government.

At the end of June, the king is supposed to be announcing reforms of the constitution. Morocco has stood out over the years as one of the countries that has been very reformist and people in the West have looked on it with respect, but a lot of the reforms have been superficial. A lot of people are saying he is doing constitutional reforms, but will it really mean anything?

Q: Why haven’t we seen major protests in Morocco and in neighboring Algeria, as we have in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt? Has the government made more concessions, or are security forces just better at dispersing crowds?

A: One of the big things in Morocco was the police and security forces didn’t use that kind of violence, but now that’s starting to escalate. The 20th of February movement, the king did invite them to participate in the constitutional amendments, but they chose not to participate and to stay on the streets. Now there’s all sorts of factions, there's Islamists involved in the 20th of February movement now and what they want is really not as clear as it was in the begining.

If the police continue to use force and the 20th of February movement continues to prefer to be in the streets rather than get involved, then it could get worse.

Algeria is a special case. Everything points to it being another case of this "Arab Spring," but in the '90s they had a very bloody civil war. The memory of that — thousands of people died in that war — it's still with people, the older and younger generation. That’s a big deterrent in people not going out into the streets.

Also, the power structure in Algeria is very different in that the security services hold the power so asking for the president to step down won’t really change people’s lives. People have been protesting since back before the Arab Spring started. And the security forces, every time they tried to gather, there was a massive response and they just couldn’t do it. People were also gathering for diffrerent things -- teachers, professional groups -- not as one against the government.

Q: Morocco has been invited, along with Jordan, to join the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group until now only open to Persian Gulf monarchies, which some analysts have nicknamed the "Club of Kings," opposed to Arab Spring uprisings — what does that say about its government’s place in Arab Spring?

A: I was really shocked. It just doesn’t make sense because it’s not a gulf country. Jordan, I suppose you could justify because it’s near the gulf. It is a club of kings, potentially trying to bolster the Saudis and what they want to do to counter Iran, this sort of cold war in the region.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Photo: A protester lies on the ground in the wake of advancing riot police during a demonstration organized by the 20th of February movement in Casablanca on Sunday. Credit: Reuters


Comments () | Archives (32)

so why are you not blocking roads on mondays too and tuesdays.... when the people are working ?? .

beacause you know that the population will kick your us befor even they call the police :D , but anyway go get a permit if you wanna march and block roads, but you don't need a permit if your going down town to do a sit in.

but anyway the People of Morocco answered your questions with mawazine, over 2 million people who assisted to shows while the biggest march you did had a total of 35 000 all over Morocco.

so thank you with don't need people who are indemocratic, all you have to do is make your political party, but the aladle don't want to, she want a republic iran like country with a republic with there chiekh as khalifa, so wich means a new king since we were a kingdom for the last 1200 years.

so the message of the moroccan is clear, the extreme left have two political parties that are inpopular and they never won nothing and the association of aladl wa ihssan a radical islamist association, and they refuse to create a political party.

so what do you expect Morocan to do??? cancel all the music festivals and activities and stop all the tourism and take away the right of women so you can be happy.

no we are working on our changes with what Moroccan want and not the extreem left want wich is URSS flag or the islamist with ther black and white flag, and no moroccan flags.

so go get a permit today if you wanna block road next sunday.

once again! if you are to hold a "peaceful" protest on public property, you need a PERMIT. be a doctor or an astronaut, you need a permit! if not, be ready for Police intervention, aggression whatever you want to call it!

you have to right to protest and be heard.

No Permit = Police intervention "Aggression......) cause they are protecting the public's property.
Permit = You have my support - as long as you stay civilized

ma3andnach Siba fi LBLAD

the doctors that were demonstrating want to work only in Casablanca and Rabat .Their education was paid by the overnement.They sucked the system for over 2 decades and continue to do so.If they are doctors ,they should obey the law and not agress the police and force their way into the ministery.Who is going to take care of patients in villages ,maybe we should bring doctors from overseas? Even our doctors need a lesson citizenship! Doctors with corrupt minds ,this is what we have.They shoud have been in emergency rooms where they belong not on the street like whoes!

I forgot to mention that Al Jazeera was also banned in Morocco.

The question is why should we continue to be subjected to the rule of someone that we didn't elect?

What right has King Mohamed VI to rule and own not only the country but the people too?

Is Mohamed VI the best and most suitable person in Morocco to lead the country in the 21st Century? the answer is NO.

Why do people kiss the hand of the Royal family incuding the litte son of the King?

Will Moroccans ever be free?

Are the Moroccan people condemned to be poor, illiterate, unemployed and subjects of the King?

Moroccan physicians and surgeons savegely beaten up May 25th 2011
Wednesday May 25th,8000 M.D.gathered in front of the health ministry to
manifest for better healthcare and working conditions,they were savagely attacked by the authorities 40 doctors were wounded,2 had a forearm and wrist fracture,one radiologist had a serious hip bone injury and had to undergo a total hip replacement surgery in emergency,two had severe head trauma one of whome was until recently in a Coma

i m from Morocco and i voted for istiqlal and they won and the secretay of the party is now the prime minister.

if you don't like democracy it's your choice but you have to respect my choice.

the majority of moroccan didn't vote because they don't trust the corrupt polititien and they don't like the old people in the head of the parties and they are glad that the king was there to push the young minister to the front and to push tem to be creative in finance so they can put the moroccan dreams to reality.

the only think that the istiqlal promised and didnt relise it's the jobs, instead of 200 000 post promised they were only 150 000 a year, and we all know the economic crises in the world, but for the rest everything is going smooth like promised, two taxe cut for busnisess and the people and un increase in the salaries that were already the highest in africa, for exemple the salary of a policeman in morocco is 8 time the salary of a police man in egypt, and the promiss to help the kids to stay in school there is a lot of work that was done, the electrification is at 97% the same go for most of the thing promessed.

and we know where are we going for the next 10 years, in all fields from the new energy to high speed train and in auto industry and aeronautic industry and nanothechnology ......... for politics there is a change of the constitution so we can give regions more power, and separation of powers...... and we have to finich the debate about religions wich mean death penalty and gay right and opening bars in ramadan.......... and that where all the problem is wich is article 19 of the constitution that give the king to protect the belives of the religions, and that what gived the power the grand father of M6 to protect the jews from the french in the world war, but we will find midle ground between parties and the king since the islamist are not totaly against death penalty or women rights.

but for those who are dreaming of a comminst state or afganistan like country they are dreaming.

anyway your free to go and do your revolution today if you think that people suport you, and like i said befor, every night there is 200 000 people that go out for the festival, in response to the few hundred of the 20 feb that want to cancel the festival.

Brother Mourabit and Salim,

Now i fearfully question your intentions and highly doubt you have any purpose or vision as individuals or as true followers of F20 movmt.. if you are demanding more freedom, generally speaking, the country enjoys a degree of wellbeing and freedom within a short period of time, true that its insufficient according to western standards, but the reasons are obvious.

if it is democracy you want, we have a free and transparent elections and i challenge you to doubt its credibility (as long as people don't sell out for 200dh) perhaps you should participate to educate this segment of the population not to sale out).....

your barking and unclear agenda will only and unnecessarily generate more DRISS AL BASSRI attitude towards our generation; and trust me!! no UN, US, Europ, nor as us a MAJORITY will defend nor come to stand by your side. NOW i can understand the frustration and aggressive approach with tone of the government toward F20.

peace O lahh Yahdikom
Radwan L


Are you aware that in 2003 the King appointed a non-elected prime minister? The party that won the election was just told to wait!

This means that it is the King who appoints the Prime Minister not the people.

And what about the so called "friend-of-the-king-party": 'Authenticity and Modernity' a political party that won the municipal elections 6 months after its creation?

You talk about democracy in Morocco but one of the indicators of a democratic systems is how it treats the media and whether it allows press freedom. Morocco's record is awful:

In the past two years Morocco has witnessed increased attacks on journalists and publications that dare criticise the Government or the King. Journalists and Bloggers were persecuted and publications seized.

Three of the country’s most outspoken publications have closed, victims of economic difficulties due to political pressures. They are the French-language weekly Le Journal Hebdomadaire, the Arabic weekly Nichan, and the Arabic daily al-Jarida al-Oula. Akhbar Al-Youm or Al-Michaal were also forced to close.

The case of Ali Lemrabet is an example of how Morocco treats journalists but at the end of the day can't silence them. After Ali Lemrabet wrote about the king’s real estate holdings in 2001, he was tried in court on defamation charges. In 2003, he spent eight months in prison for “offending the monarchy,” and in 2005 he was barred from practicing journalism for 10 years for “threatening territorial integrity" when he wrote about situation in Western Sahara and his satirical magazine, Demain was closed. Now, thanks to the internet Ali Lemrabet is able to publish Demain Online albeit from outside of Morocco.

The risk is that the Makhzen might try to silence him through the barrel of a gun. Morocco is known for the assassination of oppoinents. They've done that to Ben Barka and more recently to Hicham Mandari.

In 2009 Morocco revoked the accreditation of Luis De Vega, Morocco correspondent for the Spanish ABC daily since 2002 because of reports on human rights abuses in Western Sahara. The French daily Le Monde was also censored several times.

A free election and an independent primer minister? in what planet do you live?
Do your self a favor and read your own constitution. Bellow is a small sample of the overwhelming power M6 has, read and enjoy:

As we speak, Morocco secret services are committing serious human right violations including killing and torturing the political prisoners in Rabat. In addition, the crack down on Feb20th movement and the unjustified violence of the police will only make Moroccans stronger.
our parents lived under the dictatorship and torture of HassanII, and now we are living a similar repression under M6, but one thing I can tell you for sure, it is just a matter of time and M6 system will be brought to justice just like Mubarak...

Article 19: The King is the Supreme Representative of the Nation, Defender of the Faith, he is the Protector of the rights and liberties of the citizens, social groups and organisations....
Article 23: The person of the King shall be sacred and inviolable.
Article 24: The King shall appoint the Prime Minister... the King shall appoint the other Cabinet members as he may terminate their services. The King shall terminate the services of the Government either on his own initiative or because of their resignation.
Article 27: The King may dissolve the two Houses of Parliament or one thereof by Royal Decree, in accordance with the conditions prescribed in Articles 71 and 73.
Article 28: The King shall have the right to deliver addresses to the Nation and to the Parliament. The messages shall be read out before both Houses and "shall not be subject to any debate".
Article 30: The King shall be the Commander-in-chief of the Royal Armed Forces. He shall make civil and military appointments and shall reserve the right to delegate such a power.
Article 33: The King shall appoint magistrates
Article 83: Sentences shall be passed and executed in the King's name

we are not deffending the regime since we have an elected prime minister and next time if we don't like istiqlal we will vote for others like we did for the socialist befor them.

it's for the Moroccan to choose and not a minority to impose the comminism or islamism for our nation.

for the police brutality, this governement is no better than the US or any other european when they take care of Riots.

when the autority dont give you the permission to block street block you don't do it, it's as simple as that, and when a police man ask you to move you move or you will be arrested and if you resist you ll get your as kicked.

again we have no lecons to get from others, and if you think that people suport the comminism all you have to do is participate, we have many comminist parties and islamist parties and you have the choice from the extrem left to extrem right, you need just to get the majority of moroccan to folow you and win an election and you can do what ever you want exept touching the religious right that are protected by the king.

and for those who don't know nothing about morocco, we have free election that was accepted from all the political parties and international observers, and in morocco we have thousands of associations and syndicate and humain right association and organisation......

and for the king who's a religious leader he will be there till the moroccan decide to get rid of him, and i doubt it since Morocco was a kingdom for the last 1200 years non stop and most moroccan are belivers either muslim or jews and the king protect there right, the comminist and extrimist can wait for an other 1200 years.

Those who defend the regime and are against the pro-democracy movement of 20th February are probably paid to do so. No one would be so ignorant or so mean to side with a bunch of corrupt and brutal thugs unless one has something to gain.

Those Makhzen apologists would be pround of recent police brutality:

I have good news for those who defend the Makhzen and the absolute monarch: once the people shed their fear, there is no power that can stop them from regaining their freedom. This has already started in Morocco.

brother Salim & supporters!

"The Movement of Feb20 is the only group in the entire modern history of Morocco that brought a sense of proud and dignity to the Moroccan people".....

OH PLEASE!!! the active political structure, opposition (USFP, PDJ...), and institutions in morocco (including their obvious history of contradictions) since H2 till M6 gave the Feb 20 the platform. if you are to drive it based on the Arab uprise contamination it will surely fail. be reasonable!

(regardless of his advisors intentions) King M6 is offering this generation a clear and transparent opportunity to assist in the construction of a reasonable up-to-date constitution. we must all focus our efforts to succeed this opportunity. so all this none sense demonstrations must stop and focus on the opportunity. else!! i call for the ministry of interior to act accordingly. be reasonable, and don't spoil this historical opportunity for the rest of us. (as a Majority)

Radwan L
Kenitra, Maroc

If there are people in Morocco that are poor ,illetirate,unemployed ,i blame it on them and people like you.You can't do anything except criticize .I will ask you this once/What did you ever do for Morocco? How did you help your neigborhood become a better one? How many people did you or do you employ?Do you vote? Do you help clean the beaches? Do you volunteer for anything that will give us a better image ? With Moroccans like you ,we do not need ennemies!The king is wealthy ? so good for him ,he works and is entitled to have a wealth ,like any other kings in the world.Stop with your ridiculous numbers ,50% of the budget goes to him?! You have to be kidding?!You know ,when we do not like our country ,we can't like anything else , .its the very essence of a descent human being.You talk about corruption like a form of masturbation ,did you forget you need at least 2 people to create corruption. Tell your lambs of the 20 , Stop crying like babies ,roll your sleeves go to work ,real work ,agriculture,industry,services, tourism etc...There is so many things to do without forcing this "corrupt KINg and his governemnt" to give them jobs and become part of the corrupt system.Like Eddy i do not have any ties to the Moroccan Mkhzen ,i am a pure product of The American Makhzen ,however i love Morocco and don't like to see it denigrated by thugs!

When a people is poor, unemployed and illiterate, you don't blame the people you blame those who govern them. It's his majesky, the King "King of the poor" who is to blame. Because the King is the head of government and he is responsible for all the affairs in Morocco.

If he does not want to be blamed he should then give up the power he has.

The King should also contribute some of the wealth he has (US 2.5 Billions) towards Morocco's debt or poverty alleviation otherwise he'd be seen as a selfish and not caring King. How can he justify having so much money while his subjects are starving, poor and miserable?

20th of February movement's demands are reasonable: political and social reforms. End of corruption and basic democratic and human rights. No one should be against such basic rights.

Banning demonstrations, beating, arresting and torturing people will NOT solve the problems and will NOT end the legitimate demands of the 20th of Febraury movement. Hasn't the Moroccan regime learnt from recent events in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria???

The end of the autocratic rule in Morocco is nigh.

Mr Eddie,
The Movement of Feb20 is the only group in the entire modern history of Morocco that brought a sense of proud and dignity to the Moroccan people. If we had to follow you recommendation, we would live another 100 years kissing your kings' hands...

Morocco does not need a monarchy, especially in this economic situation. we would save 50% of our budget, normally spent in royal ceremonies, management of palaces, banks accounts registered in Switzerland etc... the only argument that I heard in my adult life supporting the monarchy is that we need a figure of unity... the way it is done now is by running the makhzen law and suppressing people, the unity comes with the respect of the minorities across the country, which is precisely what is missing in Morocco.

M6 is in a conflictive situation, he is the king, technically the CEO of the Moroccan factory.... he must not abuse his position and dominate the entire Moroccan market, including banking, real state etc (see wikileaks). If he want to be a business man, we should consider the Egyptian formula, run the books and see how much money M6 is entitle to, and how he did acquire the wealth.

In any government, budget has to be subject to checks and balances, accountability, and justice if frauds are committed. Our Monarchy has fostered bad governance and corruption as a survival mode.

I was a member of the 20 feb, and I marched for more freedom, but not for less freedom.
2 mo later the 20 of feb want to ban music festivals and chicha and all kind of culture in the city, i don't see nomore moroccans flags but only soviet and islamic flags and black and withe flags when they do there show once a mo.......

i was surprised to the reaction of the 20 of feb when they recieved the ban letter last friday, they insisted to crach the mawazine festival and they decided to start there march at 18h, what do you expect from the police ???? .

but moroccan 2 hours later responded.
hundred of thousand, again hundred of thousand responded by assisting to 9 live concert in the same city like every night with concert in all language and all culture, from the cat stevens concert to carole smaha......

that was the best response to those who want to ban music, and im surprise that americain suport the one who deffend terrorist, if you want to do what 20 feb want, you can start by freeing there leaders in guantanamo and give them the withe house, show us the exemple.

and finally we have no lecons to get from anybody, Morocco is a free country where all religions live in peace and we all fighting for better Morocco not a dictatorial Morocco.


Monarchy must be financially strong. You can not have a ruler without money power. Period. I don't see or know of any king or ruler in the universe lacks money power. So don't be naive! And YES, he does invest in real estate, technology, farming and other lucrative sectors. Having his car transported to GB for repair is his business. How many rich folks around the world spend their money renting islands, purchasing state of the art yachts and mansions etc...
If you are wealthy it is up to you to spend it however you like just like the king.

As far as the western sahara is concerened, Moroccans will never give up their land. Even if the government abandons its territory Moroccan citizens will not allow for this t0 happen including me. Morocco is united from Tangier to L'guira, not you, not anyone can take that away from us. As Abdellah said, you should be proud you lost a family member for the purpose of keeping Morocco united. He didn't fight for his land to be rewarded by the government. He did it for his own belief, satisfaction and love of Morocco. Batteling for your country comes with sacrifice!

20 feb. movement unfortuantely is driven by either ignorants or haters. I am with standing up for human rights, democracy and the well being of citizens but this is not done the way this movement is going about it. It's funny how in the streets as well as on videos you witness many movement participants not knowing what to say, not knowing what to write on their banners. They burp what Egyptians and Tunisians have been saying. Where is the personal touch of their revolution?. Many of them don't even know that what they are asking for already exist in the constitution!

So please, we as a whole nation ought to improve ourselves and know what we want. Again I say it, going blindly obstructing the peace to make a change does more damage than good.

due to lack of experience and a clear vision within the 20 feb movement, will allow for an easy hijacking of its deep-down good intentions to rather a radical movement. now we see extreme point of views and unwelcome volunteers and participants bn integrated within. so i accept and expect a ban on such demonstrations and use of force if necessary!!!!


To Mourabit,

Fact: Almost 1/2 the population is illietrate (not a claim)

Fact: Millions of Moroccans live in poverty and many of them live below poverty level (not a claim)

Fact: Most Moroccans break the rules of law and rules of good citizen behaviour (not a claim)

Fact: Women are treated 2nd class citizens (not a claim)
Leave that aside. I did not question "why" many Moroccans are illiterate and poor. As I said this failure is carried over many years, regardless of the reasons why! I am talking about TODAY. What can we do to make a change? My answer to that, making a change comes in smart step by step revolution NOT a total make over! And when I said Morocco is not ready yet, I meant not ready for breaking the country's stability down. Let us be up to the task and to the level of intellectual, civilized citezns first. We have ethnicity issues that whether you know it or not is a disaster waiting to happen. We need to enage in politics, make our voices heard without jeopardizing peace and stability of our country.

p.s: I am a citizen of Morocco as any other Moroccan. Please respect my opinion without having to accuse me of being part of "makhzan" or benefiting from any Moroccan services. That is solely my opinion and I don't have to be part of the Moroccan government to express how the stability of Morocco must be manitained while demanding change.

Abdallah, you say "King Mohammed VI is doing what he can ,if he is wealthy ,he earned it and invests in Morocco." How did he make it?
The King's wealth is estimated at US $ 2.5 Billion. What work did the King do to have such a fortune? Let's be honest it's Morocco's wealth.

The King's palace's daily operating budget is reported by Forbes to be $US960,000, owing much of it to the expense of clothes and car repair
As is well known the King is mad about cars. In 2009, king flew his Aston Martin car 1,300 miles - to get it repaired. He used the Moroccan air force to transport the car to Britain for repair!

All the expenses are born by the Moroccan people.

With regard to my personal loss. I think it was in vain unfortunately as my relatives were not protecting the country. Because it was King Hassan II who sent the army to Western Sahara and occupied it by force. We were the aggressors. The sad thing is that the government has neglected the families of those who died in the war as well as the prisoners of war released by the Polisario.

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