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Morocco Faces Some Challenges

Redouane Lakdim, the 26-year-old of Moroccan descent, living with his parents and several sisters in an apartment in Carcassonne, was a petty drug dealer on a ‘watchlist’ of suspected extremists and had been under surveillance for some time.

His death will again fail to raise the right question: why are most of the recent terrorist attacks in continental Europe executed by disaffected immigrants from Morocco? The country seems to be immune from Daesh and its ugly sisters and there have been no attacks by ISIS since its advent. This eliminates automatically the theory of home grown terrorism spilling over.

Given that all North Africans are equally discriminated against and face the same societal hurdles in France in particular, the over-representation of Moroccans within the terrorist nebula is baffling. One simplistic answer could be that Moroccans abroad are being brainwashed by some of the legions of Imams sent regularly by the Kingdom to officer his Majesty’s subjects and keep the patriotic fervor alive.

What is at stake is of a vital importance indeed. Morocco is in a dilemma because it cannot afford to lose touch with its expatriate community for economic and security reasons. And it is fair to say that their infiltration of the community has succeeded so far in both keeping the terrorists in check abroad, while still raking in billions of dollars in remittances ($6.4 billion in 2017). Tough luck for the host countries.

But the overall image of the Kingdom is slowly being tarnished. The economy is very fragile and would collapse immediately without French involvement. Also, the stranglehold of the SNI, the King’s own conglomerate, and a handful of noble families gives a feudal feel to the running of the economy. It discourages foreign and national investment and pushes young talent to seek better opportunities in other countries. It’s also the main driver for illegal immigration, which itself is a fermenting ground for criminality and terrorism.

There are many exogenous threats facing the country, as well. Some of them existential, above all the severe drought which has now hit the country for several years devastating an agriculture too dependent on rainfall. Another pitfall is the Western Sahara question, whose occupation and exploitation of resources has been declared illegal by many bodies. The South African government has even detained a Moroccan shipment of phosphates, for six months, and later auctioned the cargo for the benefit of the Sahraouian government in exile. Tougher stances by European countries towards cannabis smuggling is also nibbling on a sizable income and putting many farmers out of work.

Morocco is the only North African country to not have experienced an uprising, in modern times. And most observers believe that it is not if but when and how it will end. Will it go the Tunisian or the Libyan way? Only time will tell but neighbouring Algeria is taking no chances. It has already built its wall.