France and Morocco, Waning Relations and Immigration
The diplomatic rift between France and Morocco is deeper than ever, and became more evident when Rabat declined an offer of emergency aid from France in September. The Moroccan embassy in Paris has also been without an ambassador for much of 2023.
Franco-Moroccan relations highlight new geopolitical trends, reflecting France’s fall in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Anti-French sentiment in Africa is also being felt in Morocco. The current political crisis between France and Morocco began when Rabat was accused of not readmitting some of its citizens who had been subject to the obligation to leave the French territory. This was followed by visa crisis between the two countries and Paris’ stance not to recognize or support Morocco’s autonomy plans.
Experts say France and Morocco tensions arose in the context of the 2022 presidential election where security discourses and proposals to control and limit immigration were prevalent. French President Emmanuel Macron took charge of protecting France from the perceived threat of migrants, particularly Maghrebi migrants who have been highlighted as terrorists, delinquents and a threat to French identity.
France Upholds Domestic Security
By prioritizing domestic security, France sacrificed its diplomatic relations with Morocco. However, Moroccan officials had been hopeful that France would not fall prey to the demagogic and xenophobic rhetoric of the far-right.
But the negative French rhetoric and relations hasn’t stopped Morocco from productivity. Morocco has been developing well under the reign of King Mohammed VI. The Kingdom has emerged as a modern economic powerhouse – attributed to its business-friendly climate, strategic international alliances and youth education.
As France looks on enviously, Morocco is establishing itself as an African hub taking full advantage of its location bothering the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. But then France has not been on the losing side. In fact, Paris has benefited from Morocco’s development. It’s to be noted that French exports to Morocco in 2022 totaled €6.6 billion.
France Has Colonial-era Mindset
Experts believe Macron needs to refresh and revamp France’s diplomacy. According to a report, the French president’s approach has oscillated between clumsiness, such as in Algeria when he accused the country of capitalizing on the legacy of the Franco-Algerian war.
France has been struggling to come out of its colonial mindset. Earlier in the year, two French experts were criticized for saying that Moroccan successes in Africa are only due to France’s negligence to formulate and pursue clear strategic goals in its African backyard. This highlighted France’s neo-colonial mindset in its attitude toward and its discourse about its former African colonies.