The normalization desired by Mohammed VI put to the test by public opinion

The normalization desired by Mohammed VI put to the test by public opinion
The normalization desired by Mohammed VI put to the test by public opinion
The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, unrecognizable

The normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel, the spearhead of King Mohammed VI’s foreign policy since December 2020, is facing growing opposition within the Cherifian kingdom. Recent polls and events reveal a growing gap between royal will and popular sentiment, putting the monarch’s diplomatic strategy to the test.

Despite the expected diplomatic and economic benefits, the policy of normalization with Israel desired by Mohammed VI is struggling to convince his people. The figures speak for themselves: according to the latest surveys by the Arab Barometer network presented by our colleagues at Young Africapopular support for normalizing relations with Israel has fallen dramatically in Morocco, from 31% in early 2023 to just 13% today.

Royal silences that make people talk

King Mohammed VI’s silence in the face of certain recent events has only served to heighten tensions. In February 2024, during the Israeli forces’ assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Moroccan sovereign, despite being chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, did not issue any official statement. This silence, in contrast to the reactions of other Arab leaders, has been widely interpreted as a direct consequence of his normalization policy.

The controversy reached its peak in May 2023, when an Israeli warship was allowed to refuel at the port of Tangier Med. This decision, seen as de facto military cooperation with Israel, sparked a wave of protests on social media and within the political opposition. The Moroccan Front in Support of Palestine and Against Normalization notably called this act a “flagrant violation of national sovereignty,” directly calling into question the king’s choices.

A risky diplomatic gamble

The pursuit of this policy of normalization in a context of growing popular opposition raises many questions about Mohammed VI’s strategy. While the rapprochement with Israel has made it possible to obtain American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, it also seems to be driving a wedge between the royal palace and a significant part of the population. Some in the palace consider that the king’s position on the Sahara issue is turning into an obsession.

Indeed, last November, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Green March, King Mohammed VI of Morocco focused his speech on the importance of Western Sahara for the country, without mentioning the Palestinian question, preferring to highlight the economic and diplomatic development of the Moroccan Sahara. A speech that did not fail to surprise, especially compared to Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s investment in Algiers.

Yet Mohammed VI’s insistence on pursuing normalization despite popular opposition could have long-term consequences for the stability of the regime. How will the monarch, who is also tired from his illness, manage to reconcile his diplomatic objectives with the aspirations of his people? Normalization with Israel risks quickly becoming a factor of social and political instability in Morocco. From there to putting the very authority of the king to the test?

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