ACAS Review (Bulletin)



Meeting with Nadia Yassine: Non-Violent Islamists who Threaten the Regime in Morocco

By | August 2007

“Fil Maghrib la tastaghrib/In Morocco do not be surprised,” says an old Moroccan saying. This is true even in politics. Where else would one find the largest Islamist movement in the country having a woman as its most outspoken member? Where else would a grandmother preaching non-violence and democracy constitute the biggest threat to the regime? The lady in question is Nadia Yassine. The movement is the banned Islamist group Adl wal Ihssan – Justice and Spirituality Association (JSA). In August 2007, on the eve of the Moroccan legislative elections, I had the opportunity to visit and interview Nadia Yassine with colleagues from The Economist, BBC World, and MacClatchy Newspapers. At the time, the media was still debating her last court appearance, lips taped with a red X to symbolize the government’s attempt to silence her. She had declared to the press that monarchy was not suitable for Morocco, that she prefers a republic, and that the regime (known by its traditional name Makhzen) was near collapse. In Morocco, where the constitution defines the person of the king as “sacred,” Yassine’s statements were bound to get her in trouble. She and the editors of the weekly where her statements were published now face up to 5 years in prison.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 77
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Political Islam in Morocco: The Case of the Party of Justice and Development (PJD)

By | August 2007

The impact of America’s War on Terror on the evolution of the Moroccan democratic initiative and especially on its impact on the moderate Islamic Party of Justice and Development (PJD) is important to comprehending the current political conditions in Morocco. This analysis will look at the evolution of the PJD since the Casablanca bombing in 2003 and will explain how this event has created new political dynamics between the government and the party.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 77
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US War on Terror: Reactions from Morocco’s Civil Society

By | August 2007

‘Terror’ and ‘civil society’ are two highly controversial concepts that lack analytical precision. Both are highly value laden, terror is inherently negative and often used to defame one’s opponent;[1] civil society is inherently positive, originally associated to the self-image of European bourgeois society in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Both concepts are analytically related, as the successful implementation of ‘civility’ in societies negates or, at least, reduces the possibility of the use of terror as a means to an end. It is therefore not a surprise that the so-called War on Terror included an instrumentalist approach aimed at democratization of the Middle East and North African (MENA) region by strengthening civil society. This was not only because of civil society’s idealization as a bulwark against terrorism, but also as the lack of democracy, and US support to authoritarian rulers in the Middle East as part of its traditional containment policy, have been identified as one of the underlying reasons for the rise of terrorist groups in MENA.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 77
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The Algerian Civil War: Washington’s Model for ‘The New Middle-East’

By | August 2007

The American invasion of Iraq has clearly failed to produce the domino effect that would, as the architects of the war promised, bring all US enemies into line, and create a new Middle East where democracy would flourish. The invasion of Iraq, like Israel’s failed invasion of Lebanon in 2006, has made it clear in Washington, London and Tel-Aviv that conventional military power and hi-tech weaponry are impotent in the face of popular insurgencies. While this fact is widely accepted by experts on low-intensity warfare, hawks in the American, British and Israeli governments preferred to test its validity for the twenty first century. Now that they found out, at a great price one should add, a significant shift in US war strategy is in place. Analysts and government officials are calling this shift “The Redirection.”

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 77
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