Relations with Algeria -
Morocco and Algeria have weak relations and a closed border which prevents them from working with each other to combat internal and external threats.
Morocco and Algeria have had a tense relationship since the onset of the Sand War in 1963 over the border between the two countries. The Sand War laid the foundations for a lasting and often intensely hostile rivalry between Morocco and Algeria, exacerbated by the differences in political outlook between the conservative Moroccan monarchy and the revolutionary, Arab nationalist Algerian military government.
During the Algerian civil war in 1994, Algeria claimed Morocco supported the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. These claims have been denied by Morocco but still led to the border closer in 1994 that still stands today. In 2012 the Algerian Prime Minister said the border closure was not a priority and would not be solved soon.
Since 1980 Morocco has continued to militarize its border between Algeria and Morocco by constructing various barriers/fences known as the “berm.” It is estimated that Morocco currently has 120,000 troops along the 1,700 mile fence between Morocco, Algeria, and Western Sahara which is driving deeper divisions (Conrad).
The tense relationship between Morocco and Algeria is relevant because the rift prevents both nations from helping each other combat external and internal regional threats and prevents the sharing of intelligence and information. The border closure also prevents the citizens from both countries interacting on a day to day basis and creates unnecessary tension between the people (Azzouzi).
Government underwent constitutional reform stripping the King of some positional power and giving it to the elected Parliament and Prime Minister.
Linked to history and geography, Morocco’s Arab Spring was calm and gradual. Morocco has always been a more tolerant nation relative to Tunisia, Libya, etc, due to the various groups that have comprised its population (thriving Jewish and Christian minority, Spanish and French ex-pats, and the Berbers). The government has had to deal with the needs of multiple ethnic groups throughout its history. Morocco is further removed from the other Arab nations such as Tunisia and Libya that underwent an Arab Spring. As a result, Morocco had a milder version.
Unlike in the other countries, Morocco’s ruling regime was never replaced, it was merely reformed, which may be the largest difference between their Arab Spring and the rest of the revolutions throughout the Arab world (Totten). This is largely due in part to the official recognition the rebel force had been receiving. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (Tawil), was designated by the Moroccan government as an opposing political party for several years leading before the Arab Spring. The King was aware of how they functioned and, due to their legitimacy, was more willing to meet half way with the group and concede some of his power. The JDP was also more willing to do business peacefully because of the king’s decision to recognize them officially.
Another important factor as to why the regime was never replaced was, in conjunction with the conditions set above, the Moroccan people were able to see the negative consequences that a violent demonstration brings about. Even though they were upset with the current condition of the Moroccan state, people saw the benefit of stability over radical reform.
The King called for elections to decide reform and create a new government. The king conceded a lot of his formal power.
However, in 2011, there was an attempt to kick start the Arab spring in Marrakech, Morocco. Fourteen people (including British tourist and French students) were killed when a suicide bomber set off a nail based explosive in a popular cafe in the center of the city, but no terror group claimed responsibility.
King Mohammed VI
The King successfully navigated the Arab Spring and has a good relationship with President Obama.
Born 21 August 1963. He acceded to the throne on 23 July 1999. He is highly educated and holds several degrees including a PhD in law from the French University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. He is the current king of a 1500 year old dynasty in Morocco (older than the British royal family), He is also the Commander of the Faithful as the head of Islam in Morocco. He is also a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed. KV VI is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
Since taking the throne, he has made substantial efforts to reform the country to help promote democracy. He created the Instance Equite et Reconciliation (IER) which is tasked with researching human rights violations under Hassan II (his father) (Morocco Profile).
During the 2011 Moroccan protests, King Mohammed proposed a series of democratic reforms that were voted on that July. The reforms ranged from protecting culture, giving more power to the Parliament, human rights, civil rights, and freedom of speech and thought (Morocco Profile). Although he does not officially make policies, he still has influence over politicians and public opinion to help dicate policy. Some people portray the reforms and structural changes as crafting a shadow government in Rabat.
PRIME MINISTER ABDELILAH BENKIRANE
Benkirane has been the prime minister since 2011. He is the leader of the Justice and Development Party (Morocco Profile).
His politics are democratic and Islamist. In a 2011 interview he said, “If I get into government, it won't be so I can tell young women how many centimeters of skirt they should wear to cover their legs. That's none of my business. It is not possible, in any case, for anyone to threaten the cause of civil liberties in Morocco (Morocco Profile).
In November 2011 parliamentary elections were held in Morocco. The resounding victory belonged to the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which more than doubled its number of seats since the 2007 elections (from 46 to 107). The largest left-wing party of Morocco, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), won 39 seats and remained the fifth largest party in the parliament.
The parliamentary elections of 2011 could be seen, despite the relatively low turnout (45%), as a new step towards democracy. Constitutional changes were announced by the King following nationwide protests that started in February 2011 and which called for political reforms. Protesters, however, continued organising demonstrations because they found that the constitutional changes did not go far enough and demanded a truly democratic constitution.
Morocco’s political system is carefully evolving from a strongly centralised monarchy to a parliamentary system. The King retains much of the executive power, but Parliament is democratically elected. However, according to independent information provider CountryWatch Inc., democratic gestures and programmes do not mean that any real democratisation is taking place, and King Mohamed VI has, next to economic and social reforms, also reinforced his powerbase by strengthening the army and placing members of his inner circle at important positions in the government. In 2001, a decentralisation process has been launched. The local governors, which are appointed by the King, have achieved more power and that is why this is considered by critics to be a well-groomed way of the King to expand his power