"There are many risks and we are not sure that the Arab spring will succeed to ... Arab summer," Mr. Fassi-Fihri said. "We can go directly to a dark winter."
Morocco’s foreign minister warned on Tuesday that the current “Arab spring” can quickly end if the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia don’t lead to real democracy.
Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi—Fihri said he plans to tell U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a meeting on Wednesday in Washington that the Group of Eight major industrialized countries should launch a new initiative to ensure that democratic principles and institutions are entrenched in Tunisia and Egypt where long—time dictators were recently ousted.
In a telephone interview late Tuesday with The Associated Press, he said Morocco is “very enthusiastic” about the “Arab spring because we demonstrate that the Arab population also (has) some democracies, and there is no Arab exception to universal principles.”
But he cautioned that the Arab world is not monolithic - that it has a mix of political systems from monarchies to political dictators to one—party systems. While the countries share many challenges including unemployment, a shortage of decent housing and the need to fight corruption, he said the responses will be different.
“There are many risks and we are not sure that the Arab spring will succeed to ... Arab summer,” Mr. Fassi—Fihri said. “We can go directly to a dark winter.”
He said the world remembers when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, a pro—Western leader, was overthrown in 1979 and replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who launched an Islamic revolution.
“There is a revolution in Tunisia and Egypt,” Mr. Fassi—Fihri said. “We want to confirm they will not go back to other autocratic (rule) like it’s happened in Iran in 1979.”
The Moroccan minister said there are other risks as well from counter—revolutionaries, conservative elements and al—Qaeda.
Al—Qaeda may have been surprised by what’s happened in the Arab world, he said, but it will probably use the transition to work on its next moves.
Mr. Fassi—Fihri said Morocco “will express its solidarity with the people of Libya because we are members together in the Maghreb Arab Union,” which groups North African states.
The minister said he also plans to talk to Ms. Clinton about security in the region, the “Arab spring,” and Morocco’s dispute with Algeria over the Western Sahara.
Morocco has proposed wide—ranging autonomy for the Western Sahara, which it took over in 1979 when Mauritania pulled out. But the pro—independence Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, insists on the “inalienable right” of the people of the former Spanish colony to self—determination through a referendum on Western Sahara’s future.
Mr. Fassi—Fihri said the U.N. Security Council resolution imposing a no—fly zone over Libya and authorizing military action to protect civilians “gives the chance to people in Libya to have (a) better future.”
Morocco was among the 22 participants in an emergency meeting in Paris on Saturday that agreed to launch airstrikes against Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s forces, but Mr. Fassi—Fihri said his country’s contribution will be humanitarian. Even before the resolution was adopted, he said, Morocco sent a medical team to the Tunisian—Libyan border which has cared for many refugees.
As for Morocco itself, King Mohammed VI said earlier this month that the country will revise its constitution for the first time in 15 years, aiming to strengthen democracy in the face of a push across the Arab world. He said a new commission would suggest constitutional revisions by June, and the overall project would be put to voters in a referendum.
Mr. Fassi—Fihri called the king’s speech “very strong and audacious” and said discussions on constitutional changes started last week when representatives of political parties, nongovernmental organizations and youth groups met.
“It’s a big, big and huge challenge,” he said, “and it’s sure that (there) will be a new Morocco through the king’s initiative.”