Compulsory military service in Morocco: also for Dutch Moroccans?

Military service has been mandatory in Morocco since October 1, 2018. Compulsory military service has existed in Morocco since 1966, but it was abolished in 2006. In 2018, the government decided to reintroduce conscription. This has a duration of twelve months and is mandatory for all young people between the ages of 19 and 25 at the time of its introduction. When the reintroduction was announced, no announcements were made regarding the conscription of Moroccans living abroad, but according to the SMN, Dutch Moroccans have no reason to fear that they will be drafted.

Implications of conscription in Morocco

  • Reintroduction of conscription in Morocco
  • Contents of conscription in Morocco
  • Do Moroccan Dutch also have to perform military service?


Reintroduction of conscription in Morocco

In August 2018, it was announced that conscription would be reintroduced in Morocco as of October 1, 2018. Conscription has existed in Morocco for a long time, but was abolished by King Mohammed in 2006. However, in an attempt to ‘strengthen citizenship’, parliament voted to reintroduce conscription and King Mohammed approved the law on which it was based. Morocco experts suspect that the reintroduction of conscription is in reality being implemented as punishment for the disturbances and social unrest that Morocco experienced in the months prior to the change in law. Civil disobedience is something the Moroccan government has been free from for a long time. This is therefore the first time that the government has been forced to take action on this. In addition, it can be an attempt to tackle the high youth unemployment and therefore the hopeless situation of many young people. In the army, young people can learn a trade and therefore find a job more easily, that is the explanation.

Contents of conscription in Morocco

The military service that was reintroduced in Morocco on October 1, 2018 has a duration of one year and applies to all young people between the ages of 19 and 25. Disabled people are exempt from military service. Students have the option of completing military service after completing their studies and therefore do not have to interrupt their studies. Evading military service carries a maximum prison sentence of three months. Conscription is ‘lighter’ compared to the obligation that has existed for a long time since 1966. In the past, military service in Morocco lasted eighteen months. This was shortened to twelve months in 1999 and completely abolished by royal decree in 2006. Under the ‘old rules’, people living abroad with a Moroccan passport – including Dutch Moroccans – were not obliged to perform military service. They also did not have to undergo an examination or fulfill an alternative duty.

With the conscription that applied until 2006, all Moroccan men were called up at the age of 18 for a training period of eighteen months (and later twelve). They were told to report to the Qaid , a regional administrator charged with representing the government in local communities. It was then also up to the Qaid to determine whether someone had the physical and mental capabilities to perform military service. If someone was deemed fit enough to serve, eighteen months of training began. This included learning the skills to provide first aid in the event of an accident, how to manage evacuation procedures and how to survive in the wilderness. Learning real combat actions occupied only a small part of the training. No information was provided about the precise content of the military service as it applies from 2018 when it was announced in August 2018.

Do Moroccan Dutch also have to perform military service?

Understandably, the announcement of the reintroduction of conscription in Morocco has led to quite a bit of unrest among Dutch Moroccans. These Moroccan Dutch people usually have a Moroccan passport. It is therefore not surprising that many of them wonder whether compulsory military service also applies to them. However, Bouchra Dibi, spokesperson for the Dutch Moroccan Partnership Foundation (SMN), indicated in a response to Algemeen Dagblad on August 22 that it is not likely that Dutch Moroccans are also subject to military service. An important starting point for this is the fact that the conscription regulations applicable until 2006 did not apply to Moroccans living abroad. The government has not made any announcements surrounding the announcement of the new conscription that give reason to believe that this will be different from 2020. Moreover, the motivation behind the reintroduction of conscription would not apply to Moroccans living elsewhere in the world. A commutation scheme such as the compulsory military service for Turks living abroad has never existed in Morocco. my view on

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