A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

They Used to Call it "French North Africa" because its Rulers were in France. Of Course Today ... Oh, Wait

NOTE: A version of this article was posted this morning but was subsequently inadvertently deleted. I have reconstituted it as best I could.

As this article (in French) notes, three North African leaders (the Presidents of Algeria and Mauritania and the King of Morocco) have been in France for several weeks.

Algerian President Bouteflika, as we knew, has been in Paris since late April, when he suffered a "minor stroke," from which he is rumored to be in a coma officially said to be "improving day to day" despite no photos having been made public.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has been in Paris as well on a "private visit" since attending a meeting in Brussels on May 15. There is speculation about his health as well; you may recall that last October he was wounded when his own Army shot up the Presidential motorcade in a "tragic accident" which was discovered after the President had "accidentally" been shot five times. He received lengthy treatment in France for that as well.

And King Muhammad VI of Morocco is also on a private visit to Paris since May 10. While there have  been recent rumors about the King's health as well (though he's not yet 50), he may be avoiding the political issues at home produced by the Istiqlal Party's intention to withdraw from the ruling coalition.

Of course, they may all just love Paris in the springtime. But who's watching the store at home?

1 comment:

Al Moxtar said...

The story so far in Morocco:
The new boss of the Istiqlal, Hamid Chabat, wants to get rid of his party's ministers in the government; They all belonging to a rival faction, were appointed before his election and were against his bid for party leadership. Unwisely, he went into full opposition mode against the whole government overshooting a simple reshuffle and causing the government to fall by his own base voting for quitting the coalition. Outside his faction in the party, absolutely no one wants that to happen. The coalition was angry.
The opposition was angry because someone would be forced into some prodigious flip-flopping to justify joining the government.
The King was displeased because the PM's grooming is finally beginning to show, and among the business people and general opinion, the sentiment is that the last thing the country needs is political and decisional instability.
So, in another very unwise move, to deflect some of the responsibility of the situation, the Istiqlal petitioned the King for arbitrage against the Chief of Government. Tradition has it that the petitioner be favoured, but the petitioner is clearly and publicly at fault. At the same time, the king carefully and deliberately positioned himself in an ambiguous equilibrium with the PJD. The arbitrage means the King will have to take sides and be seen either as abetting the Islamists or unjustly sabotaging them. Rumour has it that the king is very very angry.
Everything has been awfully quiet for a couple of weeks and apparently everyone is scrambling to find a solution that doesn't include elections nor the king taking sides, before the king's return, to no avail.
Anyway, antagonizing the King is never wise and Chabat will pay for the gratuitous trouble and embarrassment he caused sooner or later, unless he makes himself very useful very soon. Judging by his colossal misjudgements lately, it's not going to happen.