New Internationalist

Morocco

December 1984

Click here to subscribe to the print edition. [image, unknown] new internationalist 142[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown] December 1984[image, unknown] Click here to search the mega index.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Morocco

Map of Morocco

Leader: King Hassan

Economy: GNP per capita $860 per year.

Monetary unit: dirham

Main exports: phosphates, citrus fruits

People: 21 million

Health: infant mortality 100 per thousand live births

Culture: religion overwhelmingly Islamic with Christian and Jewish minorities

Languages: Arab is the official language, but there is a large Berber-speaking minority. French and Spanish widely spoken.

Source: State of the World’s Children 1984

[image, unknown]
Photo: United Nations

European civilisation owes a lot to Morocco. The arts and sciences flourished in North Africa and were imported to Europe through the Arab invasion of Spain in 711.

Visitors find Morocco a romantic place, an image fostered by tales of Beau Geste, the foreign legion, and the cinema classic Casablanca. But the romance hides the reality of a nation which has made little social progress over the centuries. Over half the population is involved in petty agriculture and the rural standard of living is minimal. Most teenagers are illiterate and malnutrition is a major problem.

Yet Morocco is a wealthy country with the economic potential to provide its people with a good standard of living. It is rich in agriculture and minerals, being by far the world’s leading exporter of phosphate rock for use in fertilisers.

The paradox is partly explained by the actions of an insecure and parvenu monarchy, whose number one priority is to forge a secure power base to ensure its continued existence rather than improve living standards.

After gaining independence in 1956 from France and Spain) who had divided Morocco into separate protectorates, the sultan designated himself King Mohammed V, with the full trappings of monarchical power. On his death in 1961, the present king, Hassan, took over.

Since then, the nation has suffered five years of royal dictatorship, several failed military coups and widespread political repression. A populist attempt to defuse internal tension led to the well-publicised ‘Green March’ by 300,000 unarmed Moroccans in 1975 to occupy the Spanish (or Western) Sahara, then about to be relinquished by Spain.

Ignoring the wishes of the Western Saharans, who sought independence, and rejecting international condemnation, the Moroccans went on to annex the whole of the Western Sahara.

But King Hassan’s territorial ambitions may yet prove his undoing. Morocco’s army has been unable to defeat the Polisario Liberation Front, the local guerrilla movement backed by Algeria and Libya. Morocco nearly went to war with Algeria over the issue.

Hassan’s pro-Western stance has brought him considerable military and economic aid from the US. Despite this, increased expenditure on the stalemated guerrilla war has forced cuts in other sectors of the economy, resulting in food riots and strikes in recent years.

The beleaguered monarch’s attempt to control dissent by permitting a tightly controlled parliamentary system looks doomed to failure. Opposition spokesman have found themselves imprisoned for being too outspoken, but still they speak out.

Ironically, it could be all the schemes and intrigues the king has used to keep himself in power that lead to his eventual downfall. But nobody is betting on it. With 23 years on the throne, Hassan is one of the world’s longest serving rulers.

Mike Rose


[image, unknown]
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
Large urban-rural gap
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
Basic foods imported. Increasingly reliant on IMF.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
‘Islamic tradition gives few women’s rights.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] Right wing monarchy.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown]
Few rural educational facilities.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
Political dissent met with repression and imprisonment.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
56 years. Much urban disparity.

Previous page.
Choose another issue of NI.
Go to the contents page.
Go to the NI home page.
[image, unknown]


This feature was published in the December 1984 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Morocco

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Features

All Features

Popular tags

All tags

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe