February 19, 2014
Pham on Morocco: Willing and Able in Africa
Africa “has become a hothouse for the emergence of extremist and rebel groups,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress on Jan. 29. That threat is why President Obama and his French counterpart, François Hollande, called in a joint op-ed this month for increased efforts with African countries to “prevent al-Qaeda from gaining new footholds” in the Sahel region.
In seeking capable African partners, the United States and its European allies should focus on Morocco, whose King Mohammed VI begins another diplomatic shuttle through West Africa this week which will take him to Mali, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Gabon.
Amid the upheaval that swept across North Africa beginning in 2011, Morocco has stood out as an exception. Not only has the kingdom avoided the extremes of revolutionary tumult and violent repression, but while their neighbors were still struggling to come to terms with the Arab Spring, Moroccans accelerated a process of political and social renewal already underway, ratifying a new constitution and holding elections that resulted in a coalition government led by a moderate Islamist party.