x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Moroccan minister warns US to back 'Arab Spring' democracies

The Group of Eight major industrialised countries should launch initiatives to ensure democratic principles and institutions are entrenched in Tunisia and Egypt, says Morocco's foreign minister, Taieb Fassi-Fihri.

Protesters hold signs as they shout slogans during a demonstration in Casablanca demanding better civil rights and an end to corruption.
Protesters hold signs as they shout slogans during a demonstration in Casablanca demanding better civil rights and an end to corruption.

NEW YORK // Morocco's foreign minister warned yesterday that the current "Arab spring" will swiftly end if transitions in Egypt and Tunisia do not lead to real democracy.

Taieb Fassi-Fihri said he will tell the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in Washington this week that the Group of Eight major industrialised countries should launch initiatives to ensure democratic principles and institutions are entrenched in Tunisia and Egypt.

He said Morocco is "very enthusiastic" about the "Arab spring because we demonstrate that the Arab population also (has) some democracies, and there is no Arab exception to universal principles."

But he warned that while Arab nations shared challenges such as unemployment and corruption, different political systems applied, from monarchies to dictators to one-party systems. "There are many risks and we are not sure that the Arab spring will succeed to ... Arab summer," he said. "We can go directly to a dark winter."

He pointed to the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the pro-Western regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was replaced by that of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"There is a revolution in Tunisia and Egypt," Mr Fassi-Fihri said. "We want to confirm they will not go back to other autocratic (rule) like it's happened in Iran in 1979."

The minister warned of risks from counter-revolutionaries, conservative elements and al Qa'eda. al Qa'eda may have been surprised by events in the Arab world, he said, but it will probably use the upheaval to its advantage.

Mr Fassi-Fihri said Morocco expressed "solidarity with the people of Libya", adding that the UN Security Council resolution authorising a no-fly zone and military action to protect Libyan civilians "gives the chance to people in Libya to have (a) better future."

Morocco was one of 22 participants in an emergency meeting in Paris on Saturday that agreed to air strikes against the Libyan leader, Col Muammar Qaddafi's forces. Mr Fassi-Fihri said Morocco's contribution will be humanitarian.

* Associated Press