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Morocco and WikiLeaks: Royal Corruption and Balanced Reactions

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, International Relations
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Image from MoroccoBoard.com

With the release of over 1,000 cables so far, no nation is immune to the WikiLeaks phenomenon. So far, cables related to Morocco discuss the state of the military, corruption [2] amongst Moroccan officials, and royal involvement in business decisions, among other things. Moroccan bloggers opine on the cables, offering a variety of thoughts on the meaning and influence of WikiLeaks in the Maghreb.

Maghreb Blog offers an introduction [3] of sorts, with a promise to provide more in-depth analysis on specific cables related to Morocco and the Western Sahara:

As in various regions of the world, the Maghreb has not been immune to Wikileaks. The leaked cables provide some empirical insight into the politics of the region and the interplay of power between different states of the Maghreb.

On the Wandida blog, Lbadikho doesn't believe that WikiLeaks will effect change in the Middle East and North Africa. He writes [4]:

Now let’s try to speak seriously : Why wikileaks will not produce change in the MENA region?

As I previously defended it on Talk Morocco with some scientific-like arguments [5], my viewpoint is: what internet and especially social media can do in the region is still insignificant. The average Joe takes his news from mainstream media -mainly television –  moreover, those who get the latest news from the net have left the off-line-on-the-ground events to more comfortable “intelligent-debating-platforms”, discussing with each other and having the illusion to buzz and change the world… Expecting change by social media in the MENA region is just like El Baradei expecting to be Egyptian president, with his Teletubies-like tweets which I find funnier than the sarcastic website ElBaradei Quote Generator [6].

In a later post, the blogger summarizes [7] mainstream media reactions to WikiLeaks.

Analysis of the latest developments from a blogger at The View from Fez shows a balanced response from the Moroccan street. The blogger writes [8]:

On the street, Moroccans are generally supportive of Wikileaks because of the insight the cables have given into the behind the scenes attitude of American diplomats. Most revelations caused little surprise to Moroccans here in Rabat, especially the WikiLeaks cables that portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists and in another cable that claims al-Jazeera changed coverage to suit Qatari foreign policy.

For their part, the Americans are in damage control mode and not reacted in the most sensible way. Calls for attacks on Wikileaks and its founders are beginning to backfire. Foaming at the mouth, calling for the killing of Mr Assange and choking his bank account have proved internationally unpopular. Shooting the messenger is not the best response. Instead, the Americans should look to their own cyber security. Their blustering attacks have turned Wikileaks and its founder Mr Assange into a modern folk hero. Thankfully, the public response from Morocco has been dignified silence.

For more news on Morocco-related leaks, follow @WikiLeaksMOR [9] on Twitter. For more in-depth analysis, check out blogger Larbi‘s short tour [10] [FR] of Morocco-related WikiLeaks cables.