Hunger Protests Shake Morocco
Hunger protests, which erupted on April 8 in over fifty Moroccan cities, have largely been silenced by the regime. However, these unprecedented events, driven by the recently created Moroccan Social Front, demonstrate the severity of the socio-economic situation the country is facing. Morocco, hit by an inflation crisis reaching 9.8% in the first quarter and even over 15% for basic food items, is now a veritable powder keg.
These hunger protests occur as the country is already weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the tourism sector, and by the war in Ukraine, which has repercussions on essential goods. Drought, which significantly affects the cereal harvest in North Africa, further exacerbates the situation. It is worth noting that poor harvests and rising food prices contributed to the violent Arab Springs of 2010 and 2012.
Historic Measures to Ensure a Peaceful Ramadan
In response to these crises and protests, the Alawite regime has adopted historic measures to ensure a peaceful Ramadan. Among these, importing 10,000 lambs for slaughter for the first time, with the aim of lowering the price of each animal. Another extraordinary measure was taken in mid-February: curbing the export of basic foods such as fruits and vegetables to fight inflation and stabilize the prices of these products before the start of the fasting month. Authorities have declared that “the priority is now the domestic market.”
A “Missing” King Mohammed VI More Concerned with His Relationship with a Boxer
Despite the gravity of the situation, King Mohammed VI seems more concerned with his relationship with Abu Azaitar, a mixed martial arts champion, than the protests shaking his country. According to a former Moroccan official, the king spent more than 200 days outside Morocco last year, alongside the Zuaiter brothers, which include Abu Azaitar.
The king, who prefers to stay away from the protests beginning to sprout in the poorest cities of his kingdom, has been unresponsive to his advisors’ attempts to reduce the influence of the Azaitar brothers. The often-absent monarch sometimes takes refuge with the brothers at a private ranch in the Moroccan countryside or in hideaways in West Africa.
A Drifting Morocco and the Fear of an External Enemy
With King Mohammed VI preoccupied with his relationship with Abu Azaitar and the country facing hunger protests, Morocco seems adrift. The critical socio-economic situation, combined with unstable governance, could create fertile ground for external actors seeking to destabilize the country and the region.
Many analysts emphasize that the king’s prolonged absence and the government’s inability to effectively manage internal issues could exacerbate existing tensions and encourage extremist groups or separatist movements. In this context, Moroccan authorities are particularly vigilant regarding the potential threat posed by groups such as the Islamic State or the Polisario.
A People Seeking Hope and Change
Despite current difficulties and political uncertainties, Moroccans continue to fight for a better life and a more promising future. The hunger protests show that the people are ready to demand change and question the regime’s political and economic choices.
The Moroccan Social Front, behind the protests, calls for greater transparency, better wealth distribution, and a fight against corruption. The Moroccan people aspire to deep and lasting reforms that will improve living conditions and guarantee a more stable future for future generations.
In conclusion, Morocco is going through a difficult period marked by economic crisis, hunger protests, and an absence of leadership. It is crucial for the country and the region to find sustainable solutions to these problems in order to maintain stability and avoid destabilization by external actors. Moroccans, for their part, will continue to fight for a better and fairer future, seeking profound and lasting change. The people’s resilience and determination in the face of adversity offer hope that, with the right reforms and commitment to addressing these issues, Morocco can overcome its current challenges and build a more stable, prosperous, and equitable society for all.