Written by Ella Rowe
Edited by Annika Lilja
Natural disasters have the uncanny ability to expose the political intricacies of a nation, revealing both its strengths and weaknesses. The recent earthquakes in Morocco, which have garnered international attention, have brought to light a complex web of political implications. Morocco's decision to decline international aid following the earthquake asserts its desire to maintain self-reliance and control over its domestic affairs. By rejecting foreign aid, Morocco sends a message to the international community that it values its sovereignty and prefers to manage its own disaster relief efforts. The government must now demonstrate its ability to effectively manage the crisis and provide relief to affected citizens without external assistance.
There are many logistical challenges that have impeded the distribution of aid in Morocco. To start, Morocco has a preexisting complex relationship with the neighboring country Algeria. This geopolitical standoff not only affects the earthquake response but also underscores the broader regional dynamics that shape Middle Eastern politics. Political tensions between Morocco and Algeria have persisted for decades primarily due to the long-standing dispute over the sovereignty of Western Sahara, with Algeria supporting Polisario Front’s quest for independence while Algeria asserts its claims over the territory.
Domestically, these natural disasters have the potential to reshape the political landscape. Currently, Morocco operates under a constitutional monarchy where King Mohammed VI holds powers over the military, foreign policy, religious affairs, and more. Meanwhile, the elected parliament handles domestic policy matters. Parliamentary elections aim to distribute power more broadly, but political dynamics are still influenced by the strong role of a monarchy. The government, with both a monarchical and democratic system, has to deal with the many questions concerning the allocation of funds, managing reconstruction efforts, and international relations with bordering countries.
Morocco's decision to reject aid may be seen by some as a sign of government strength and independence. However, it also risks alienating some of the population who view this decision as a failure to prioritize the welfare of citizens over political considerations. How well it handles the crisis, provides relief, and communicates its actions to the public will influence public opinion and, potentially, future elections.
The earthquakes in Morocco serve as a reminder of the intricate interplay between politics and natural disasters. They demonstrate how a nation's response to such crises can reveal its commitment to sovereignty, expose geopolitical tensions, and have profound domestic political ramifications. Many argue that governments, especially in a time of tremendous loss, must remain transparent and accountable in their response to natural disasters to maintain public trust. As Morocco continues to grapple with the aftermath of these earthquakes, it is essential to navigating these political challenges while prioritizing the well-being of its citizens.
Logistics or Politics: What Is Tying Up Morocco Quake Aid." The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Sept. 2023,www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2023/0913/Logistics-or-politics-What-is-tying-up-Morocco-quake-aid.
"The Politics Behind Morocco Turning Down Help After the Devastating Earthquake." New Atlanticist, Atlantic Council, September 20th 2023, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-politics-behind-morocco-turning-down-help-after-the-devastating-earthquake/.