January 13, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9137

Moroccan Intellectual: Agreement With Israel Benefits Morocco Rather Than Harms It, As Some Claim

January 13, 2021
Morocco, North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 9137

In a December 15, 2020 article, Ahmed Assid, a Moroccan secularist and political activist who belongs to the Amazigh (Berber) minority, welcomed Morocco's normalization agreement with Israel, which had been announced on December 10 along with a U.S. declaration recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.  Rejecting the position of the Arab nationalists and Islamists who claim that normalization will bring destruction and civil war upon Morocco, Assid stressed that it is not Israel that undermines the stability of the region, but rather the terrorist and violent policy of anti-Israeli elements. Some opponents of normalization,  such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), he added, are hypocrites, since they criticize countries that hold ties with Israel but at the same time strive to maintain relations with it themselves. The real threat to Morocco, he concluded, are the extremist Islamists of the MB and Salafi movements, who divide society and sow ignorance and violence.    

Ahmed Assid (Source:

The following are translated excerpts from Assid's article:[1]

"The U.S. decision [to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over the Western] Sahara, and Morocco's decision to renew the open relations with Israel, triggered a flood of negative reactions, all of which [claimed] that this move harms the stability of the region and may plunge it into a vortex of violence, social unrest, etc. The first to issue this 'prophecy' was Palestinian journalist 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, who wrote in an article in [the online daily] Rai Al-Yawm… that 'the Morocco-Israel agreement may be a recipe for civil war or even for wars [between] and unrest within the Maghreb countries, which have heretofore been immune to the wars and unrest that characterized the Arab East.'[2] The same position was taken by the [pro-Palestinian] Moroccan Organization for the Support of National Causes, which condemned the renewal of the ties with Israel, describing it as a move 'which will cost Morocco dearly [and undermine] its history, stability, future and relations with the region.'[3]

"The Al-Tawhid Wal-Islah movement, the da'wa [Islamic proselytizing] arm of [Morocco's ruling] Justice and Development Party,[4] which is seeing one of its worst periods in government, issued a condemnation of its own, stating that '[the renewal of] relations with Israel opens the door to [Israel's] infiltration of [the Moroccan] state and society, which threatens the integrity of the social fabric and the stability and unity of the homeland…'[5]

"However, all these claims give rise to a troubling question: If it is normalization with Israel that causes wars, how can we explain the fact that the countries which confront and wage 'resistance' against Israel and the West, and which are supported by 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan and by the Islamists and the Arab nationalists, are the ones that have experienced the greatest civil wars ending in complete ruin and destruction? Did Saddam Hussein's Iraq not bring  destruction upon itself by invading its neighbor Kuwait? Was Syria not destroyed after the establishment of the Qatar-Turkey coalition, and were its people not expelled from [their land] with the blessing of the [International] Union of Muslims Scholars, [an organization] that 'mobilized' [the Muslims] and called… to fight Bashar [Al-Assad's] regime, which opposes Israel? And how is it that Qadhafi's Libya experienced destruction [so great] that it has still not managed to overcome it and establish a modern state for all its citizens? Isn't [Libya] full of religious militias whose common denominator is the call 'Allah Akbar,' black banners and emblems featuring curved swords? And who was it that dispatched 17,000 members of [the jihadi] Jabhat Al-Nusra militia to Libya? Was it Israel, or the MB's Turkey, with Qatar's blessing? And why did Saudi Arabia declare war on Yemen? Was it because [Yemen] had normalized its relations with Israel? Is Israel the one behind the Houthis?...

"The uprising of millions of Egyptians against Mubarak, and then the uprising of twice as many [Egyptians] against Morsi and the MB [regime], followed by the military's return to power and the entire civil war that came in the wake of these horrific events - was [all this] due to the Egyptian regime's normalization with Israel? Was it not Muhammad Morsi, [of the MB], who, following his election [as Egypt's president], sent a cordial letter to Israeli president [at the time, Shimon Peres,] which included a reassuring message regarding the good  relations between the countries? Morsi wrote, 'I have a strong desire to develop the ties of affection that fortunately exist between our countries' (Letter dated June 19, 2012).[6] 

"And who murdered [Lebanese prime minister] Rafiq Al-Hariri? Were not five members of Hizbullah, which opposes Israel, convicted of this? And who is it whose gunmen always clash [with the security forces] in the streets of Beirut to challenge decisions of the [Lebanese] government and gain power in the country by the force of threats and arms? Is it not Hizbullah, which opposes Israel?

"And what about Sudan? Was it Israel that tempted the MB government [there], which took over the country in 1989, to burn 300,000 citizens in Darfur and expel two million of them, and discriminate against the Christians in the south by imposing the Islamic shari'a, thereby causing the country to split into two states? Was it Israel that inspired [Omar] Al-Bashir's Muslim Brotherhood government to raise the price of bread and [other] staples and take racist and unpopular decisions that caused the street to erupt and overthrow Al-Bashir's government along with all the evil groups that surrounded him? 

"And as for our own citizens, the Moroccan members of the MB, let us remind them that 'the threat to the integrity of the social fabric' that Morocco has experienced was not caused by Israel but by [Islamic extremists] who speak of 'the jahili society,'[7] 'the neglected duty [of jihad],'[8] 'Allah's hakimiyya [i.e., sovereignty],…[9] and the 'Caliphate.' Nobody has corrupted the minds of the Moroccans, sowed seeds of civil war among them, brought the Moroccan education system to the brink of [moral] bankruptcy and legitimized ignorance and violence as the MB and the Salafis have done. [So] before talking about an 'Israeli infiltration' of our society, they should apologize for their past sins and improve their behavior towards the citizen as part of the Moroccan state that unites us all.

"Why do these people keep silent in the face of Turkey's friendship with Israel and the mutual trade between them that takes place on a daily basis? Why do they oppose normalization when it is carried out by governments they oppose, yet remain silent when their allies normalize relations with Israel?

"We are not presenting these questions in order to justify a certain reality or to [indicate] a change in our position on the cause of the Palestinians, whom we will continue to regard as a people that deserves to be free. [We present them] only in order to say to those geniuses that we are no fools, and that they should at least respect our intelligence and try to persuade us with logical claims.   They must know that corrupt people who sow destruction and ruin all around them have no right to preach [to others]. These obsolete ideologies are like spent batteries that can no longer be recharged."


[1], December 15, 2020.

[2], December 11, 2020.

[3], December 10, 2020.

[4] Although Morocco's ruling Justice and Development party is ideologically identified with the MB, it was its head, Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani, who signed the agreement with Israel and was harshly criticized for this by opponents of normalization.

[5], December 12, 2020.

[6]  The letter, as published in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram on October 17, 2012, is actually dated July 19, 2012.

[7] Islamists sometimes accuse modern Arab societies of being jahili ("ignorant"), i.e., similar to the pre-Islamic pagan societies that were ignorant of the true faith.

[8] Al-Farida Al-Ghaiba (The Neglected Duty) is the title of a treatise by Muhammad 'Abd Al-Salam Farag, a founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, who was executed in 1982 for involvement in Sadat's assassination. The treatise, which had significant influence on extremist Islamic ideology, claimed that Muslims were neglecting the commandment of jihad. 

[9] Hakimiyya: the perception that Allah is the ultimate sovereign and legislator, and therefore all laws must conform to the Islamic shari'a. This is not the case in modern Islamic states, which rely on manmade laws that do not fully conform to the shari'a. The ideologues of radical Islam, such as Abul A'la Maududi and Sayyid Qutb, condemned the failure to implement Allah's hakimiyya, seeing it as part of the jahili state of modern Muslim societies. 

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