Morocco's Comprehensive Counterterrorism Approach [J. Peter Pham]
Today my weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review—the publication of which coincides with President Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East—examines the comprehensive counterterrorism strategy of an ally that is regrettably not on the presidential itinerary, Morocco. (Although not the point of my essay, I do suggest several reasons why the Sharifian Kingdom would have been a more appropriate venue, historically and politically, for the long-anticipated presidential address to the Muslim world than Egypt.)Looking at the approach that the Moroccan government adopted in the six years since the simultaneous suicide bombings in Casablanca on May 16, 2003, the article notes that, in addition to traditional military and security measures, Morocco has also strengthened its legal framework to fight terrorists, worked to influence religious discourse along a moderate path (including the introduction of women as religious guides), ameliorated the socio-economic factors that extremists might exploit, and beefed up regional and international security cooperation, including with the United States. In the end, I conclude:
While Morocco’s fight against extremist ideology and terrorist violence will likely be an ongoing struggle requiring constant vigilance, the country’s efforts to date have helped reduce the overall threat, both for itself as well as for other countries. This is no mean accomplishment, enhance as it does security for Europe, where large Maghrebi diaspora communities are to be found, and West Africa, where Morocco has not inconsiderable political, economic, and cultural influence. Thus Morocco’s friends, including the United States, have every reason not only to celebrate its success, but also to support it, all the while learning whatever lessons they might draw from a truly comprehensive approach.