Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Forecast in Morocco:  Smells Like Revolution

Morocco (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Leaders in Rabat would prefer to avoid the potential economic consequences of the drought.  In 2011, a struggling economy was one factor that drove Moroccans to protest in the streets during the Arab Spring.  The Kingdom weathered the unrest, avoiding a political crisis, and has recently been promoting Morocco’s survival as a regional success story.  Today, however, Morocco could be headed for another Arab Spring.  The reason?  Climate change.

Morocco could be the main stage of a coming climate revolution in North Africa, according to activists and scholars.  Though predicting exactly when and where this scenario will unfold is difficult, a number of reports, including a 2012 study conducted by the University of Hamburg, have determined that climate change will put Morocco at high risk of conflict.  Whether this means a revolution is uncertain, but observers agree that climate change will have an impact on socio-economic and political developments in Morocco for the years to come.  “Injustices related to climate change will force themselves on the social and political movements of Morocco’s future,” says Hamza Hamouchene, co-author of The Coming Revolution in North Africa:  The Struggle for Climate Justice.

While North African leaders understand the urgency of climate change, Hamouchene says, their strategies aren’t progressive enough to resolve the issue.  In Morocco, the government has favored partnering with institutions such as the European Union and World Bank to fight climate change rather than engage local communities and their own solutions, which often come from firsthand knowledge and experience of working with the land.  But Morocco is unlikely to consider changing its approach anytime soon, Hamouchene says, which is a decision that may come at a critical cost.  Neglecting local communities, he notes, will push citizens to align their environmental-related grievances with existing movements for freedom, sovereignty and social equality.  And if past instances of unrest in Morocco are any indication, the target of the criticism will be state leaders and government officials.

Dangerous climate trends are likely to have a negative effect on future standards of living throughout Morocco.  Current challenges such as rising sea levels, hotter temperatures and the creeping sprawl of the Sahara Desert aren’t going anywhere — and could worsen.  The country is likely to see a spike in natural disasters, claims the Moroccan environmental activist Salaheddin Abir of Attac, an anti-globalization organization.  He predicts that “droughts, flash flooding and even earthquakes will become more common, and make thousands of Moroccans vulnerable to poverty.”
Today, Morocco faces a difficult situation in which it must provide to a rapidly expanding population in the midst of a climate crisis that is ruining agriculture.  If a revolt does occur, it will be the ensuing struggle over access to resources that causes it, says Moshe Terdiman of Muslim Environment Watch.  “When we talk about climate triggers for conflict, we mostly talk about an allocation crisis.”

Read more at The Forecast in Morocco:  Smells Like Revolution

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