My first encounter with post-independence Algerians was with a group of young Algerian students who came directly from the maquis to study in America at the University of Wisconsin in 1964. In spite of the hardship these brothers endured fighting for the independence of Algeria as members of the FLN forces and in spite of all the suffering they went through, they were enjoyable companions at the Wisconsin University campus.
They were studying English in preparation of their future studies at different US Ivy League universities in different fields. I liked these guys and they liked me. We had many things in common and we enjoyed talking about them during the summer of 1964 in the “Rathskeller” student union.
Present-day President of Algeria Mr. Bouteflika used to come to Casablanca and hang out at the Zoom Zoom Club. He was so handsome, kind and gentle. What happened to him? I believe that age and power do change people. It is sad to see him behaving towards Morocco the way he does while his health is deteriorating. Of all people, he should be the one to bring this conflict to closure.
The leadership of the Algerian government is blind to the need for regional economic development, starting with Algeria and Morocco and eventually encompassing Tunisia, Mauretania and Libya and perhaps the countries in the Sahel including Senegal. The onus is on the Algerian government leadership. Can one imagine what it would be like if there was a will for economic cooperation between Morocco and Algeria?
There is no doubt that during King Mohammed VI’s leadership era, huge discoveries of gas and oil on the offshore of the Moroccan Coast are imminent. There is no doubt that Morocco is going to be one of the largest producers of renewable energy in the world. There is no doubt that Morocco is going to reach its agricultural objective of irrigating 10 million hectares and that it will also continue to feed the world through its OCP phosphate deposits and transformation. There is no doubt that corruption will be under control sooner or later, the justice system will become blind in its adjudications and rulings and all Moroccans will be equal under the law. Our Sahrawi sisters and brothers will return to Morocco, the mother country, and the so-called Polisario will atrophy. The educational system will perform better and so will tourism.
These activities will lay the foundation for equality in Morocco between the genders and will strengthen Morocco’s Constitutional Monarchy, founded on moral democratic principles. Morocco will have a flourishing middle class that will be the force motrice of development under a fair and solid entrepreneurial opportunity and activity. This will generate wealth and will also cement the foundation of the moral democratic principles to serve the Moroccan People.
In order to make sure that this process of sustainable development in the region is attainable, the Algerian government should have a vision in which the Kingdom of Morocco as I described above is an ally and a reality. The Algerian political system which is a Republic can also improve its tenets to lay the foundation for a political system based on moral democratic principles and join Morocco in its effort to do its share for the application of a political and economic strategy that will lead to sustainable economic development in both countries for the benefit of their people.
Demography is the key which will open wide the door to the attainment of this long desired sustainable economic development if turmoil is to be avoided in the future in both countries. There is no other choice because this conflict has been a lose-lose situation. Over the 35 years of this conflict, the Moroccan and Algerian people have been the losers. Soon the population of both countries is going to reach 80 million people and in 2 decades it will reach 150 million human beings who are going to be striving for adequate education, training, jobs, income, housing, food, clothing, health maintenance system, recreational systems and environmentally friendly surroundings.
It would be far better to plan today for economic integration for a combined 80 million producers and consumers than for the 40 million people in each country. Development of an economy of 80 million people who are preparing for the future market of 150 million for locally produced consumer products in the next 2 decades is a win-win situation. Both Morocco and Algeria have all the resources required to launch local industries to meet the needs and choices of the 80 million consumers and in 20 years of the 150 million. We must also add to those resources the impact of the opportunity for contribution of the Moroccans and Algerians living abroad when they return home. This is not to omit at a larger level the imminent inclusion of Tunisia, Mauretania, Libya, Senegal, Mali, Chad and Niger to also benefit from this sustainable economic development and its moral democratic principles. Can one imagine the wealth this economic integration in the region will generate for the peoples of the region?
Morocco is going solo for the time being is on this right track and its economy is showing some positive results. Can Algeria swallow its pride and meet Morocco half way? The destiny of both countries and people is strongly linked and one cannot afford to leave the other one behind. The whole region depends on the constructive vision of both countries to initiate a sound and durable political and economic cooperation. Both countries’ vision ought to be the same and that is sustainable economic development attained through moral democratic principles with a constitutional Monarchy in Morocco and a Republic in Algeria.
I am confident that both countries’ Parliaments will have a lot of work head of them in legislating and promulgating laws that will be alike in both countries to fight the socio-economic dilemma which is the result of 35 years of conflict and to promote moral democratic principles congruent with Islamic values and improve the people’s well being. Maybe this is where there is a need to start. Time is of essence.
As to the arguments between the bloggers from both countries who get into it emotionally, no one is to blame because each side loves their own country. Love for country is sometimes stronger than any other love and makes people say the wrong things to prove that love. I wonder how balanced that love will become when Morocco and Algeria decide to change course and integrate their economy seeking sustainable economic development for their people?
I visited Algeria twice and I did not see any differences between the Moroccan people and the Algerian people. The Algerian people and the Moroccan people have so much in common and if anyone knows that better than anyone else it is President Bouteflika who lived among us in Morocco.
Generals! It is time for change. .