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Morocco Should Reconsider Alliance with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Last Wednesday, June 13, Moroccans were disheartened to see their country lose the race to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Millions of Moroccans were aware that the Morocco 2026 bid could not compare to the joint proposal of the US, Canada, and Mexico, known as United 2026, in terms of existing infrastructure

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Last Wednesday, June 13, Moroccans were disheartened to see their country lose the race to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Millions of Moroccans were aware that the Morocco 2026 bid could not compare to the joint proposal of the US, Canada, and Mexico, known as United 2026, in terms of existing infrastructure. However, they were hopeful Morocco would create a surprise and win a majority of votes.

The Moroccan people pinned their hopes on the organization of the World Cup as an opportunity to boost Morocco’s economy, resulting in the creation of more than 100,000 jobs.

What Moroccans did not expect was that a country considered hitherto as a “brotherly” country and one of Morocco’s most strategic allies would betray them in the most brazen manner. Saudi Arabia left no stone unturned to prevent Morocco from organizing the World Cup. It not only announced support for the United 2026 bid, but intensified its efforts to persuade other countries to vote against Morocco.

What happened in Moscow and the power play that has been taking place in Saudi Arabia since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince last June indicates that the relations between Morocco and Saudi and Arabia have taken a new turn.

The time has come for Morocco to officially and unequivocally announce its withdrawal from the Saudi-led coalition to oust the Houthi rebels in Yemen. At first, Morocco’s involvement stemmed from its belief that the war would be limited to air strikes lasting a short period of time.

Morocco’s participation was predicated on the premise that whatever harms the Saudis and Emiratis also harms Moroccans and vice-versa and that the strategic interests of the Saudis align with Morocco’s strategic interests.

However, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were not only fighting the Houthi rebel group, but also devastating the country as a whole while committing war crimes against the Yemeni people. The two countries are playing a dangerous game in Yemen and in other countries; they have a subversive agenda and seek to destabilize all the countries that do not fall in line with it.

For example, after Morocco supported them in their war against the Houthis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE expected Morocco to side with them in their brazen blockade of Qatar. But Morocco acted wisely and decided to remain neutral, offering to help the opposing parties overcome their crisis.

Morocco’s decision to remain neutral was intentional. It reflects a new direction in Morocco’s foreign policy towards making decisions independently of Saudi Arabia.

The votes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain against the Moroccan World Cup bid were clearly meant to punish Morocco’s decision to remain neutral in the Gulf crisis and act independently.

The new orientation of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy under Mohammed bin Salman’s leadership is worrisome and risks plunging the whole Middle East and North Africa region into chaos and turmoil.

Morocco should by no means be associated with a country accused of committing war crimes in Yemen and of starving civilians there. Neither should Morocco be associated with the subversive agenda of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the whole Arab world, be it in Qatar, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, or Syria.

To achieve this goal, the first step that Morocco should take is to withdraw completely from any alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. No more Moroccan men should die to defend these countries. No more decision should be made to please the Saudis or Emiratis.

Morocco should never follow these two countries’ foreign policy agenda, which is mainly inspired and manipulated by the Washington-based right-wing research center “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” (FDD). This is the same think tank that helped orchestrate the Saudi-Emirati media campaign against Qatar since 2011.

The center recommends policies for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to adopt in the Arab world. The think tank was also behind the frenetic media and political campaign to convince the American president and his entourage to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

This center and its financiers have one main goal: to achieve regime change in Iran and prevent Iran from acquiring the atomic bomb. One of the biggest financiers of the center is Sheldon Adelson, who serves first and foremost the Israeli agenda. Adelson was a major donor to President Trump’s presidential campaign, and was behind his decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

There are many reasons why Mohammed bin Salman considers Trump his first patron, which led him to betray Morocco. In addition to gaining U.S. support that helped Mohammed bin Salman seize power, Saudi Arabia’s goal is to convince the United States to overthrow the regime in Iran, which would be difficult and even impossible, given the strength of Iran.

The decision to take a confrontational stance against Iran was not made in Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, but in Washington, D.C. It was made and promoted by the FDD whose backers and experts make the reckless Saudi and Emirati leaders believe that the right path to challenge Iran’s subversive agenda in the region is to provoke regime change.

FDD’s ultimate goal is not to achieve the well-being and perennial stability of these two countries, but to eventually enable Israel to have the upper hand in the whole region. But the Saudis and the Emiratis take the bait.

In addition, Saudi Arabia lavishes billions on Trump and on many research centers, and lobbies to distract Americans from the JASTA Law enacted by the US Congress less than two years ago. The law gives the families of American victims of 9/11 the possibility to sue the Saudi government for its involvement in the terrorist attacks.

Moreover, Morocco, for which one of Jerusalem’s gates holds the name of its people “Moroccans’ Gate,” should not be linked to any policies aiming at abandoning the Palestinian people and betraying them in order to help the 32-year-old Saudi prince consolidate his power.

However, this does not mean that Morocco should enter into a tug-of-war with these countries. Rather, it must deal with them in a wise and pragmatic way, making foreign policy decisions that serve its strategic interests and that preserve its dignity and the dignity of its people.

Morocco’s bilateral relations with these countries should be built on mutual respect and mutual interest, rather than on empty slogans, blackmail, and provocations.

Commentator…Culled from Morocco World News

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Direct or indirect primaries: The uniting factor is moneybag politics by Afe Babalola

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THE Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) provides for the system of nomination of candidates by political par ties through primary elections ahead of presidential, state governorship, and legislative houses elections. Section 84(1) of the Electoral Act provides that a political party seeking to nominate candidates for election under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission. Subsection 2 provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.

Direct primaries, as described in subsection 4 of the Act, connotes that the members of the political party will be given equal opportunity to vote for a party member of their choice as the nominated candidate of the party. It involves the participation of all registered members of a party in the selection of the party’s candidates. Indirect primaries, on the other hand, is a system whereby members of the political party democratically elect delegates at the party’s congress and, in turn, the delegates elect the party’s candidates on behalf of the members of the political party. Sections 5-8 of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) generally stipulates the procedure for the conduct of indirect primaries in Nigeria.

The third category, and perhaps the least commonly adopt ed, is the system of consensus candidacy whereby all aspirants in the political party will voluntarily and expressly withdraw from the primaries and endorse a single candidate; and where there is no such express withdrawal, the political party will mandatorily proceed to conduct direct or indirect primaries. Section 9 of the Act provides as follows: 9 (a) A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate; (b) Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective positions. (c) A Special Convention or nomination Congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be.

Over the years, the choice of whether a party should adopt direct or indirect primaries has been the subject of debate by political pundits, commentators, and aspirants. The system of indirect primaries which most political parties adopt has been criticized for being easier to manipulate by party lead ers, and on their part, the delegates are expected to align with the party leadership. Another inherent defect in the conduct of indirect primaries includes some instances of the dubious manner of appointment of delegates. For instance, where a sitting Governor or President’s political appointees are made the party’s delegates, it is not in doubt that their nominations will ultimately favour their appointor’s political interest. Be sides, it is not uncommon to find dissimilar delegates’ selection at party congresses, conventions and primaries. On the other hand, the criticism of direct primaries is that it is a lot more expensive to operate and requires much more planning and organization. It is also more easily manipulated. For in stance, a strong contender in a political party can sponsor the members of his own political party to purchase membership cards of the opposition party en masse in order for such members to deliberately vote for a weaker candidate in the said opposition party to win the primaries, thereby giving him an edge in the general elections.

Notwithstanding the obvious differences in the conduct of direct and indirect primaries, there however exists no real difference because of the association of Nigerian politics with godfatherism and moneybag politics. Though it is easier to bribe fewer delegates to support a faction of the party as op posed to the reduced propensity to tilt the votes of all members of the political party to one candidate if direct primaries were held, it still does not change the fact that the underlying factor is the ability of a candidate to sway the few delegates, or the larger party members, with money.

In an interview published in the Punch newspaper on 19th June 2022, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party rep resenting the Ilaje/Ese Federal Constituency stated the im pact of money on politics. He reportedly said: “Except some are lying, it is real. Our politics is monetised. The process is monetised. Some will just come and tell you that they never pay money. They paid money. We paid money to delegates. There is no way you can survive that hurricane without effectively and efficiently releasing resources for those people (delegates). Whether you have served them for seven years and you have been their perpetual or perennial friend, it is not going to count. You just have to do the needful at that point. Again, if you don’t do it, they will not vote for you. This is because it is not just one aspirant or candidate that is doing that; it is a system. You will give what the system is asking for. There is a stimulus that the system is pumping and which the electorate will have to react to. It is not the fault of those who are currently in power or those that are seeking to come to power, it is not their fault… If you are the best (among the aspirants), you will pay; if you are the worst, you will still pay. It is just a systemic thing. Those who eventually won, it is still the same. In my area, we had three very strong contenders. We paid equally and people made their choice on who they wanted. The three people (aspirants) paid equal amounts of money. They (delegates) collected money from the three of us and made their choice on who they wanted.”

The bold admission by the honourable member of the House of Representatives excerpted above is the reality of the Nigerian political climate today. The influence of moneybags in Nigerian politics continues to hold sway in dampening the hopes of the nation in achieving true democracy. After all, the whole idea of democracy is the free will of the people in electing their political leaders, and where such “free will” is manipulated through the influence of political juggernauts, the country is further pulled away from the attainment of the best democratic policies. It accounts for the corruption and violence which have characterized many elections in Nigeria. On the day of the election, the politician who owes his nomi nation to his huge investments will naturally seek a win by any possible means. Where his reliance is placed on a political godfather, he can count on his godfather’s ability to deploy enormous wealth in a bid to corrupt electoral officials and the electorates and where these fail, violence will be deployed to bring about the desired result.

Consequently, the politician who wins an election based only upon the backing of his political godfather will feel no ob ligation to the electorate who in any event might have been disenfranchised in the whole scheme of events. He will there fore devote the entirety of his tenure of office to the promotion and satisfaction of himself, his cronies, and his godfather. There is an unhealthy synergy between godfatherism, money bag politics, and poverty. It is the entire citizenry who suffers the effect of political office holder’s obligation to recoup his investments and/or satisfy the whims of his godfather who, more often than not, are the actual persons in power.

AARE AFE BABALOLA, SAN, OFR, CON, LL.D (Lond.)

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Genuine politicians must die by Kenneth Amaeshi

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I often one wonder why people go into politics in Nigeria, because the challenges of the country are massive. Poor health systems. Low quality education. High youth unemployment and low skills. Hunger, poverty, and famine. Weak infrastructure and institutions. In addition, the politics appears dirty and bitter.

The usual but superficial reason people often offer is that they are keen to serve. If the lure of politics is to serve others, why would one subject oneself through the tortuous process of democratic elections in order to serve? Sleepless nights. Odd meetings. Very strange companies. Painful compromises.

A cynical view might suggest that whether a career in politics is pursued to serve or lord it over others, it is simply a quest for power. Of course, it is human and natural to seek dominion over others. But even at that, what then is the purpose of power and is politics the only means to exercise such powers?

Another view is that politics is simply business – in the sense that politicians financially invest in it and expect worthwhile returns on their investments. In such contexts, they may use money to influence votes. When politicians make such investments, they obviously expect some gains, and the higher the risks, the more the expected returns. However, politicians come in various shades.

Some politicians do not pretend about money politics. It is as clear as it can be. It is what it is – a very transactional engagement. It is all about their self-interests. This understanding makes it easy to attract like minds and to agree on expectations and outcomes. They often portray and pride themselves as the real masters of politics. Many people tend to agree with them, and they are unashamedly transparent about their strategies and aspirations. That’s how it is done. Anything short of this is naivety.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is and idea which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.

Other politicians prefer not to be very overt about their crude intentions and strategies. They rather mask them in some nebulous and grandiose cloaks – often packaged as a form of progressivism and intellectualism. However, beneath this garb of elegance and decency is a constantly warped and treacherous display of self-interest and greed packaged and sold as enlightenment. The main difference between the two categories is their strategies. While the former is overt, the latter is covert. Nonetheless, their goals are the same.

A third group is made up of politicians who are very idealistic and puritan in their approach. They have something to offer and truly want to serve, but they either do not understand the rules of the market for votes or they think they can change things by ignoring the rules and in most cases swimming against them. However, they hardly win elections because they rarely make any financial investments in the business of politics. As much as some voters may like what they represent, they rarely have sufficient incentives to patronize the politicians in this category. In the end, the politicians become cases of good products but unrealized potentials.

Unfortunately, the business of politics and pretentious service leadership are the bane of democracy and good governance in many countries. Sadly, too, they are often normalized and taken for granted. This normalization and taken-for-grantedness could be as a result of helplessness – because people – i.e., the electorate – do not know how to unravel and dismantle them.

However, no matter how they disguise, they can be unmasked effectively. In Nigeria, for example, where the elections season is simultaneously booming and looming, genuine politicians can be assessed by their preparedness to sacrifice and die for the good of Nigeria. Given where the country is today, especially with her challenges, it only needs politicians who are in it, not for their own sake, but for the growth and development of the country – i.e., politicians who are both competent and ethical. Anything short of this is simply an entrenchment of the status quo, which has not done the country any good.

Nigeria needs genuine political leaders who can literally take the proverbial bull by the horns. This will entail a lot of discomfort, political risks, sacrifices and even death. As scary as it may sound, genuine politicians are rarely deterred by it.

It is obvious that Nigeria is at war with the forces of underdevelopment and darkness. Anyone running against these forces, therefore, must be ready to die, because he who easily rushes to war should know that war is death – o ji oso agbakwuru ogu, omakwa na ogu bu onwu?

But how do we identify genuine politicians, given the confusion and obfuscation of personalities and personae in the system? One way to decipher genuine politicians is to look at their antecedents and ask some very pertinent questions. What have they achieved outside politics? What comforts and luxuries are they leaving or setting aside to serve? What sacrifices are they willing to make and or are making? Are they willing to die for Nigeria to thrive? As much as these questions may sound unrealistic, politicians who fit this mode are truly the sort of politicians Nigeria needs now.

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, offered an excellent idea of what genuine political leadership looks like in practice when he said:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is and idea which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” (emphasis, mine).

It is obvious that Nigeria is at war with the forces of underdevelopment and darkness. Anyone running against these forces, therefore, must be ready to die, because he who easily rushes to war should know that war is death – o ji oso agbakwuru ogu, omakwa na ogu bu onwu?

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