RABAT–Since Morocco’s COVID-19 outbreak began to worsen in August, all state institutions have mobilised to address the health crisis by limiting the virus’s spread and repercussions and ensure quarantine rules are enforced. The army has played a prominent role in supporting public health institutions and providing logistical support. According to experts, the army’s role in the crisis has established the basis for a new civilian-to-military relationship in the country.
More than six months after the fight against the pandemic began, the situation in Morocco is still worrying. The government has extended the state of health emergency for a seventh straight month in order to curb the virus’s spread.
On March 22, Moroccan King Mohammed VI held a meeting with senior officials from the army and the government to discuss efforts to contain the pandemic. King Mohammed VI directed Moroccan officials to increase cooperation between various institutions and to set up coordination mechanisms between the armed forces, the government and civilian bodies.
In an analysis published by the Policy Center for the New South, Moroccan analyst Taoufik Marrakchi told Moroccan news agency MAP that the experience of armies in managing risks, threats and crises, especially regarding health issues, gives them the experience needed to address the exceptional situation caused by COVID-19.
He pointed out that the Royal Armed Forces’ health authority has mobilised numerous multi-tasking structures made up of medical, paramedical and social personnel. In addition to medical assistance, he noted, the Royal Gendarmerie’s protective masks manufacturing unit has provided logistical support. Since the outbreak of this pandemic, this unit has operated at maximum capacity.
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, ranked 57th in the world out of 138 national armies analysed by the US Global Fire Power site, have helped build many field hospitals, provide medical support on the field, intervene in emergency situations and enforce total lockdown measures and health protocols.
Mohamed Mesbah, director of the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis, noted in a study published by the Carnegie Middle East Centre titled “Shared Responsibility: Moroccan Civil-Military Relations and COVID-19″ that the military’s efforts to fight the pandemic has drawn popular support. Armed forces’ presence on the streets has not been viewed as a cause for concern, but rather helped reassure the population and enhance the state’s presence and ability to effectively implement measures to address the health emergency.
Morocco has recently seen a worrying spike in COVID-19 infections, with cases steadily increasing since the beginning of August. Morocco now has over 182,000 recorded coronavirus cases and 3,079 deaths.