"Tomorrow I will be ready to jump into my neighbour's car if he is ready to take another course than mine" - Sartre
This is perhaps the quote that best helps us to understand the neurotic relationship between the governments of Morocco and Algeria, an unusual relationship in which both seem to dislike and disregard the other, but deep down they send each other subliminal messages of courtship and love.
Let us say that it is the clinical case of an unhealthy love induced by an unbridled paternalism that seeks to take possession of the will of the Other and manage it at the whim of the Ego and its interests. The sad fact is that this suicidal relationship continues to plunge the citizens of both countries into the abyss, rifts and frustration.
Yes, the quote is ironic, surreal, even cruel, but it contains a large dose of "reductio ad absordum", the only reasoning perhaps capable of making us understand and explain the position of the Algerian regime, which ignores the diplomacy of the King of Morocco's outstretched hand under the pretext of tangled allegations that scorch all shoots of reconciliation and delay the return to normality between the two brotherly peoples.
In the heavy and tiresome ream of such arguments, we first find a jumble of events that took place in the early 1960s and early 1990s. In short, events in which today's top civilian leaders had nothing to do with. Therefore, if any reproach could be made, it would be for those who do not want to turn the page and continue to be governed by what T. Todorov calls "the code of the dead".
As for the normalisation of relations with Israel, this is an allegation that falls "per se" because on the one hand almost all Arab countries have done so, and on the other because the Algerian rulers have maintained and continue to maintain relations with the Israeli government and army. Moreover, as a gesture of rapprochement towards this country, I understand that during the last visit of the French Interior Minister to Algeria, an agreement was reached to compensate the descendants of Jews of Algerian origin who left goods and property behind when they left the country together with the French (since they had been granted French nationality). The sum is said to amount to enormous sums.
Finally, when the Algerian president, who owes his office to a military junta that, like the god Cronus, rejoices in dethroning his father and eating all his children, declares with his usual mannerism at a press conference for local consumption, that the King of Jordan in his visit to Algeria did not mediate in any way to bring the two regimes closer together, knows that such intercession took place and that the condition of the Algerian rulers was that the Moroccan regime renounce the proposal of extended autonomy as a solution to the Sahara conflict.
Perhaps naivety is an intelligent style in the exercise of politics, but engaging in such a swindle makes both countries and peoples sink deeper and deeper into quicksand that sooner or later will end up engulfing us so that instead of the neighbour, the friend remains the neighbour's neighbour, as the great and sarcastic Nietzsche put it.
I devoted a previous article published in this same digital space on 30 October 2022 to this abracadabrante situation, to those who insist on "looking for the sickle", as the Moroccan proverb says, and to those who benefit from entertaining this fateful kingdom of taifas.
Having said that, I now turn to a question that seems to me more elementary: what is the reason for so much animosity between the leaders of Algeria and Morocco? Is it just something related to specific conflicts, the Sahara (Western and Eastern) in particular and with it the struggle between the two not to lag behind the other in terms of hegemony in the Maghreb, or is it rather the consequences of deeper causes related to our personality and psycho-emotional constitution as Arabs (I am talking about culture, not ethnicity), whether we are rulers or ruled?
We Arabs have offered humanity illustrious figures in the fields of science and culture, but we must recognise that we are intermittent, impatient, marked by an exaggerated fickleness due to an untamed emotional charge that makes us go from rapture to apathy. And therein lies the secret of the indiscipline and lack of common sense that accompany our lives and projects.
As a result, our statecraft is afflicted by a deep-rooted weakness, that of underestimating the need to abide by the laws and thus hindering any possibility of delivering equity and prosperity. Union around a central, 'federating' idea is but a fleeting state that we are as soon as we can disassociate ourselves from it under one pretext or another. Let us not forget that, unlike in Western culture, we put the self before the other - "I and he" we say, not the other way round!
Less than eight decades earlier, our northern neighbours were completely immersed in bloody and fratricidal wars that left millions dead, widows and orphans. Yet they managed to lick their wounds, mourn each other, and gradually agree to move from a literal, mournful and rancorous memory to an exemplary, positive and reconciliatory one. Through their ability to shift bad memories from the core of that memory to the periphery, thereby neutralising their explosive and destructive power, they achieved miracles and offered their citizens a space of free movement, complementarity and prosperity.
In the case of the United States, a few decades after the cruel and devastating war of secession that was thought to divide this country forever, it, like a true phoenix, rose from the ashes and managed to lead the world.
While the analysis of societies tells us that there is no single path to development, that each country can draw on its resources and traditions to achieve it, it is increasingly clear to me that democracy is the common denominator between the different successful human experiences and the necessary turning point to create disruptions.
Lights, democracy, equitable distribution of national wealth, less intrusion of religion in political and social affairs... Here are some of the keys to explain the success of some and the failure of others.
Ignoring the voice of the people and turning the instruments and institutions of political, trade union and civil society expression in general into a mere sounding board for the approval of the rulers' policies generates suspicion and mistrust between them and the majority of their citizens, makes them more vulnerable and therefore more likely to seek foreign patrons to endorse the use of state violence to suppress any critical voice in exchange for tithes and tribute. Taifas and taifas....
- The people: as if living on borrowed time in their own country, they are indolent and sad, watching - and also regrettably participating - in the ever-increasing unproductiveness and the culture of the buck, be it through corruption, the rent economy and/or emigration in all its forms.
- The environment: embers under dry straw as a result of the fading of work and "meritocracy" models, the blocking of the social lift and the reproduction of hollow and adulterated elites. It is not in vain that we have gone from a culture that considered work to be the true worship to one where it is said and accepted that only the donkey works.
In short, countries on the verge of a resounding bankruptcy at all levels.
Entertaining the people with nationalist rhetoric and blaming the neighbour or the external enemy is nothing more than a broken record, chronicles of a bankruptcy postponed.
How long do we have to wait for things to change?
If there is one thing I am sure of, it is the great wisdom contained in that exquisite phrase in "El cantar del mío Cid": "What a good vassal I would be if I had a good lord".