Etiquettes : Morocco, Mohammed VI, France, earthquake, Azaitar, Betz, Gabon, Pointe Denis,
In the Marais in Paris or in his castle in Oise, Mohammed VI likes to live anonymously.
Mohammed VI had been in Paris for eight days when the High Atlas was convulsing, hardly a surprise as the son of Hassan II, crowned in 1999, practices reign in teleworking mode. As this summer ends, he plans to take advantage of his Gabonese residence in Pointe-Denis, a coup d’état having overthrown his friend Ali Bongo there, here he is in France then blessed with almost African temperatures. The sovereign has little appreciation for the unity of place, a habit so perennial that his residences abroad are decorated like his Moroccan homes and equipped with domestic service available twelve months a year, « small palaces, the same in France, in Gabon and Morocco », comments in a whisper a retired advisor to the royal court, who has worked with the monarch since his childhood.
In 2017, Mohammed VI spent 45% of the year far from his borders, in 2018, almost half. That year, in addition to his discreet divorce, he underwent heart surgery at the Ambroise-Paré hospital in Neuilly. The medical press release is followed by two perky photos published by the rapper Maître Gims, a friend. “King in great shape” says the first legend. A second shows him flanked by comedian Jamel Debbouze. Happy convalescence which soon allowed him to dine with judoka Teddy Riner on the terrace of the restaurant of the Costes hotel. A king who in France snorts, frees himself, thus able to push open the door of 17 rue des Rosiers, the tiny boutique of Jonathan Optic, where the fifth largest fortune in Africa, ten times wealthier than the king of England, buy a pair of glasses on your own. Beige striped shirt, sleeveless vest and selfie with merchant Jonathan Allouche. Then he leaves.
The incognito of the Marais is transformed in these alleys, passing lightly, chatting with the ultra-orthodox rabbi Israel Goldberg, strolling through Truffaut’s, browsing the aisles of Fnac. Except when, alas, the ground on which his ancestors have reigned since the 8th century moves aside and two army planes have to be sent to Le Bourget to pick him up, Boeing 747s, one for him and his guard. close, the other for small staff. The years of reign tick by, the country’s economy prospers, a TGV now links Tangier to Casablanca, soon another will put Marrakech within reach of Agadir, and yet his absences add up.
The Azaitar royal envoys
2019, he did not attend the ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the Green March which in 1975 allowed his father to take control of part of Western Sahara, sending there the brothers Abou Bakr and Ottman Azaitar, convicted of justice born in Germany and champions of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), who with their third brother Omar have become his friends since the spring of 2018. At the head of the procession, the pair with bulging biceps greet the row of senior officials. 2020, new heart operation, this time in Rabat, then the purchase of a private mansion, avenue Emile Deschanel, in Paris.
Finally, an address to be closer to his two sisters and his mother, also Parisians, an acquisition awaited since, ten years previously, he sold his private mansion next to the Rodin museum. The new residence has a prestigious appearance: 83 million euros it is said, a swimming pool, a spa, a 200 square meter terrace, and a garden opening onto the Eiffel Tower. The Azaitar brothers’ Instagram also shows selfies taken in front of the iron lady. Apart from Gabonese holidays, the Covid crisis keeps him in Rabat, but as soon as the virus is contained, he is back in his home on the Champ de Mars, which he now prefers to the palaces where he stayed for a long time with his advisors, the Ritz, the Park Hyatt or the Crillon, where as a child he pedaled a tricycle in the corridors.
Interviews with Lang, Dati, Sarkozy
Does the attachment to our capital go back to these young years? At his first public appearance, April 6, 1974, funeral of Georges Pompidou at Notre-Dame? In the collected ranks, crossed hands and waxen face, the little prince, aged ten, accompanied by Michel Jobert, Minister of Foreign Affairs, begins at the age of hopscotches and scoubidous a life of frozen immobility, of inclinations constraints and immense fortune – 5.7 billion dollars according to Forbes magazine. Now a young man in his sixties – he was born on August 21, 1963 – the sovereign with a sick heart can experience here what he could not allow himself in his kingdom, Paris, the city of escapes, intimacies, lightness. Lunches at the La Réserve palace, shopping at Alaïa, few obligatory dinners, no official, never a diplomat or a minister.
Anonymous walks, supervised by a dozen bodyguards in plain clothes, dreaming of a life where he would be Mohammed Alaoui, the name on his passport, used by Nathan editions to publish his public law thesis, defended in 1994 in Nice . On three occasions, the “viceroy” Fouad Ali El Himma was seen walking alongside him, as if Rabat reigned from Place Vendôme. And then his clothing style, singular, liberated, showy, as if he wanted everyone to realize how much he didn’t care about inherited constraints. Desigual shirts, colorful Pathé’O suits, named after the Burkinabé designer Pathé Ouédraogo, the « king of fashion », as the Moroccan press describes him, appreciates these outfits, as he enjoys the company of these acrobats, footballers, rappers, who set their lives on fire and let go as they please.
“The king speaks little, it is his temperament, but he acts,” praises the Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun. Le Goncourt 1987 sends his books to him, keeping the handwritten letters that the royal recipient returns to him. When the author, also a painter, exhibited at the Grand Passage gallery, an advisor to the king chose six paintings and the next day, a colonel from the Moroccan army arrived in a van to take them on board. Mohammed VI knows how to take care of his exiled subjects, just as he cajoles French celebrities who love the sweets of Marrakech. When work thus disrupts the tranquility, scented with jasmine, of an illustrious Gaul, he receives, with his stamp as proof, a trunk of shimmering silks and dozens of DVDs…
Disagreement with Macron
In August 2022, patatras. Social networks broadcast a video of the monarch, in a faded blue shirt, staggering in a street in Paris. Pro-Algerian media speak of drunkenness, and Rabat criticizes Paris for not having prevented the broadcast. That year, he stayed four months in France, just a quick return trip for the Eid-al-Adha holiday, and another for the Throne Day speech, flying to Paris the same evening. According to the Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero, renowned connoisseur of the makhzen, this royal court of around twenty powerful men, Yassine Mansouri, the director of the external secret services, Abdellatif Hammouchi, his counterpart in internal security as well as Fouad Ali El Himma crossed the Mediterranean several times to obtain his arbitrations.
Never during this private stay was he received at the Elysée, a conversation however by telephone with Emmanuel Macron, who did not call him when he contracted an – asymptomatic – form of covid, notes the Spanish journalist. Twice, July 2021 and December 2022, the king even hung up on the French head of state. The first, following the Pegasus affair. He then gives his « king’s word » that his services did not wiretap the president, but the latter reacts strongly – the Maghreb Intelligence media, close to Yassine Mansouri’s services, relays the information. During the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Macron wants to congratulate him on Morocco’s qualification to the semi-finals, only to receive another call – and puts the line on hold. Having picked up in the meantime, the king ends the connection. The Commander of the Faithful, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Armed Forces, President of the Council of Ministers, disdains being treated as a passing ruler. It was always like this, in March 2000, the first state visit of his reign, Laurent Fabius, then president of the National Assembly, was received at the Marigny hotel then dismissed – too casually.
Secret Service Reports
In general, the French police follow him at a good distance, the authorities being notified of his arrival. The border police, the correspondents of the DGSE and the DGSI stationed at Le Bourget airport draw up an initial report, transmitted at the end of the chain to the diplomatic unit at the Elysée. The Paris police headquarters has been notified.
If he lives in Betz, this castle in the Oise that his father bought from the Grimaldis, the gendarmerie keeps watch. As if to make amends for pumping all the water in the town, sometimes forcing the villagers to buy bottles, those around him regularly bring couscous to the traders on Fridays. Until Covid, around fifteen college students were invited once a year to Morocco, for three weeks, with 400 euros of pocket money each.
About-face at Le Bourget
From now on, the Azaitar siblings are making themselves comfortable, imposing in their entourage relatives like the Dutch fighter Mohamed Mezouari, or the Spanish jiu-jitsu champion Yusef Kaddur, seen in the video from August 2022. Their Instagram accounts show them in Paris, as in the Gucci boutique, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, with the caption of the photo this enigmatic word: “Gratitude”. Brothers adorning their plastic sandals with the royal coat of arms, hanging in their training room in Rabat to the left and right of the official portrait of the Sovereign their own photos, and not, as etiquette requires, those of the Sovereign’s father and his son, the crown prince.
A latitude that surprises. Friendships which never prevent the king from working remotely, hanging on the telephone with his ministers or advisors, and then, more and more, as if he knew that his time was limited, madness, twirls, a passing through the Truffaut store in Villeparisis, in Seine-et-Marne, or suddenly overtaken by duty, an order: let him be taken to Bourget airport, this time he is returning to Morocco. Then he changes his mind, returns to Champ-de-Mars or Oise, locks himself in, phones. “The throne of the Alawites is in the saddles of their horses,” Mohammed VI likes to say. The Fantasia version of teleworking.
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