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The Morocco Option

RABAT – Three years after the Arab Spring revolutions, the democratic world appears more confused than ever about how to respond. US Secretary of State John Kerry has re-launched American mediation efforts in the Middle East at a time when his country’s most reliable partners are estranged: Egypt’s military rulers resent the West’s early support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in his presidential tenure, and Saudi Arabia fears that an Iran that talks to the US may prove to be an even more ambitious regional hegemon.

It was against this background that Morocco’s King Mohammed VI recently convened a high-level meeting of the Al Quds Committee, which he chairs. The Palestinian Authority’s president, senior diplomats of the countries involved in the Palestine-Israel peace process, and the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation all attended the two-day summit. Taking place at a critical moment for this sensitive region, the meeting constituted an effort to contribute to the renewed negotiations and build on Kerry’s efforts to revive the peace process.

Morocco is an ideal setting for regional diplomacy. Its strategy of gradual reform, economic modernization, and social development has made the country an oasis of stability in a region rife with violence and strategic rivalries – and thus a reliable partner for Europe and the United States as they seek to influence events in North Africa and across the Middle East. Indeed, with Morocco’s proximity to Europe making it a gateway to Africa, its full economic and geopolitical potential has yet to be realized.

By contrast, the Egyptian government’s struggle to suppress the banned Muslim Brotherhood is fueling seemingly endless turmoil. And Tunisia is still without a prime minister to head a caretaker government, further delaying the “national dialogue” that the Tunisian General Labor Union has agreed to mediate. Three years after the start of their revolutions, neither country has been able to draft a broadly acceptable constitution.