TAIEB FASSI-FIHRI 58.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Morocco’s foreign minister warned Wednesday that Al Qaeda could
take advantage of the upheaval in the Middle East and called on the US and EU to
work with Arab states to prevent that from happening.
“Al Qaeda can
exploit the situation because Al Qaeda is present in the Maghreb” as well other
African locales, Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi-Fihri told The Brookings
He said that while there are many unknowns about what will
emerge from the changes sweeping the Middle East landscape, “What’s assured is
that Al Qaeda will … test, will try to take advantage of the opportunity of
these question marks.”
He noted, “Al Qaeda loves the places where there
is no strong democratic, national power.”
Fassi-Fihri lent his support to
the protests being staged and their participants’ calls for democratic reform,
and pointed to Morocco’s own recent moves to set up a fully independent
judiciary and elected prime minister as signs of his country’s
But he cautioned that democratic transitions are by no means
“The Arab spring is here. We’re not sure that the Arab summer
will succeed,” he said.
“Maybe we’ll go directly… to a dark winter, like
it happened in our area in Iran in 1979.”
He was referring to calls for
democratic change that resulted in the imposition of a theocracy during the
“The USA, European Union and Arab countries have to
work together to protect this positive evolution,” he stressed, “and to be sure
that the legitimate aspiration of people will not be hijacked by
When it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Fassi-Fihri
urged the parties to return to direct talks.
In the face of various
alternatives, he said: “It would be better to create once again this negotiation
process. It has to start.”