King Mohammed VI’s successful visits to African countries, including his current stops in Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, are indications of the Monarch’s profound interest in the region and footprints of his foreign policy agenda.
Unfortunately, Moroccan officials has thus far failed to translate the King’s public relations accomplishments into diplomatic gains.
The king’s relaxed and humble manners are winning him praises and admirers in every stop. Sadly, the same cannot be said about Moroccan officials, who more than often, come across as haughty and abrasive if not outright arrogant. The Monarch’s sincere attentiveness to the cultures and history of places he visits should serve as an example for Moroccan representatives whose lackluster interests in some capitals are sources of diplomatic strains.
Even with Morocco’s new constitution that offers the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a partisan minister, it is evident that the Palace continues to dictate foreign policy. Despite this “centralization” of power, a multifaceted leadership, in and outside the Palace, split among different and sometimes conflicting entities remains in charge of managing the foreign policy in Rabat.
This lack of a unified command produces a chaotic and sluggish diplomacy that has undermined Morocco’s efforts to advance its agenda in Africa and around the world. The Kingdom needs, rather, a communication campaign tightly controlled by one organism whose sole purpose is to map and execute a coherent and purposeful diplomacy outlined by the King.
The success of the Royal visit to Eastern Africa must be translate into a change in position of countries like Tanzania and Ethiopia in the Western Sahara conflict favoring Morocco’s local autonomy plan. For Morocco to win over the support of East African nations at the African Union (AU), Rabat needs to make structural adjustments to the way it conducts its diplomacy in English speaking Africa.
We have seen in the past how Royal visits’ strategic and communication accomplishments start to disintegrate once the euphoria and glamour of his presence evaporates. These diplomatic meltdowns are due to an absence of a clear and unified post-royal visit strategy in the region.
Moreover, Morocco’s dysfunctional diplomacy could undercut the King’s efforts to persuade reluctant East African nations to halt their support for Algeria’s antagonistic campaign to keep Morocco out of the AU.
As in the past, the King does the PR while his foreign policy advisers remain incapable to maneuver on the margins of the Royal visits to lobby and secure clear and concise commitments from the host countries to adopt pro-Rabat positions.
The Monarch’s visit to East Africa is an opportunity for the Moroccan diplomacy to promote its vision of a new regional realignment that will favor the Kingdom. It opens the door for the Moroccan foreign policy establishment to explain the country’s vision of a strong Africa where shout-south cooperation is key to economic development.
The architects of King Mohammed VI tours in Africa, current and past, should listen to independent foreign policy advisers who may criticize Morocco’s current over all foreign policy and could propose a new course of action.
This latest historic visit has opened the door for Rabat to install long-term relationships in hard to reach niches. The question now is whether the different policy makers around the King agree in a new strategy to capitalize on this monumental momentum or keep the same old weary approach.
By Hassan Masiky -