Western sahara Major events

Morocco Starts EUR 200m Programme For Solar Energy In Agriculture

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:36

Renewables Now

Morocco is preparing to roll out a EUR-200-million (USD 240m) programme to spur solar power investments in the agriculture sector by 2021.

The Ministry of Energy, Mining and Sustainable Development has earmarked MAD 2.3bn (EUR 207m /USD 243m ) to promote the use of solar energy to power water pumps for irrigation, helping farmers to reduce consumption of butane gas in farming operations.

Morocco is chasing after a bold target of sourcing more than half of its electrical energy from renewable sources by 2030 and a firm plan to have 2,000 MW of wind and 2,000 MW of solar power plants by 2020.

The North African kingdom, which hosted in Marrakesh COP 22, the 2016 UN climate change conference, already has а pretty detailed plan as to how it will transform the country’s energy mix.

Fiat Signs Agreement With Morocco To Establish Automotive Production Plant

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 01:37

Asharq Al Awsat
Abdullah al-Tajani

Morocco continues its dynamism in attracting foreign investments and convincing them of establishing their own units in the country as Magneti Marelli, a subsidiary of the Italian investment group in this field ‘Fiat,’ and Morocco have signed an agreement building an automotive production plant.

The agreement was signed from the Moroccan side by Minister of Industry, investment, Trade and the Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elallamy and Minister of Economics and Finance Mohamed Boussaid and on behalf of Magneti Marelli its CEO Pietro Gorlier.

It includes the installation of a manufacturing facility specialized in automotive components production, which will deliver shock absorbers in the first phase.

The industrial zone will be located in Tangier, in the free zone “Tanger Automotive City”, and it will cover an area of approximately 20,000 square meters, with the possibility of subsequent expansion.

The production capacity, when fully operational, will be approximately six million pieces, and the production is forecast to begin within 2019, with the progressive employment of approximately 500 workers by 2025.

The project will require a global investment of about 37 million euros and will benefit from the support of the Moroccan State as provided by its automotive industry policy.

The activity will initially focus on the production of shock absorbers for cars and commercial vehicles, with the possible extension of the scope to other products.

For Magneti Marelli, the localization of production in Morocco follows the logic of supporting locally the industrial sites and the business expansion of a number of important automotive clients in the North African region and marks the opening of a new market in the Maghreb area.

“We are delighted to be partners with the Moroccan State in one of the strategic objectives of the country, the development of the automotive industry,” said Gorlier.

For Magneti Marelli, “the creation of an industrial site in Morocco represents an opportunity to further expand its business, responding to the demands and needs of a number of key clients that are making important investments in the area.”

For his part, Elalamy, who welcomes this new facility installation, highlighted that “the Magneti Marelli project feeds the manufacturing and sourcing ecosystems in the context of the Industrial Accelerated Plan.

‘With this new project, a new craft is being developed in Morocco, the value chain is getting more complex and the sector is gaining from a successful integration,” Elalamy said.

The Magneti Marelli activity will benefit also to the network of the local suppliers to whom the Tangier factory will be getting its supply.

Peru Sends Defiant Western Sahara Independence Emissary On Flight To Spain

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 01:20

by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj

(Recasts with departure of activist)

Peruvian authorities sent an emissary of an independence movement in the Western Sahara on a flight back to Spain after she spent two weeks in the Lima airport and refused to leave, the national migration authority said on Wednesday night.

Jadiyetu El Mohtar, a Spanish citizen who describes herself as the ambassador to Peru for a disputed area in the Western Sahara known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), had been denied entry to Peru for alleged political activities on a prior visit, Peru’s foreign ministry said earlier on Wednesday.

Peru is one of a few dozen countries that has recognized the self-declared SADR, which the Polisario independence movement claims is a separate state from Morocco. SADR is not recognized as a state by the United Nations and Peru suspended diplomatic ties with SADR in 1996.

El Mohtar had hoped to help reestablish those ties, she told Reuters by phone from the international arrivals area of Lima’s airport before her departure on Wednesday. She said she was awaiting an appeal to the decision to block her entry.

Peru said El Mohtar had violated the terms of a tourist visa by taking part in political activities during a previous visit. It refused to grant her another visa and had urged her to comply with its order to fly back to Spain.

El Mohtar has denied any wrongdoing and said her stay in Peru in July and August included meetings with environmentalists and feminists and did not violate migratory laws.

“I am sleeping on an inflatable mattress,” El Mohtar said. “I have come to work to pave the way for re-establishing diplomatic relations with Peru.”

Peru’s foreign affairs ministry said it was not considering reestablishing diplomatic ties with SADR and does not recognize Polisario representatives as diplomats.

El Mohtar said she has visited Colombia, Ecuador and Cuba without any problem.

Earlier this year, Peru banned a Canadian activist and a U.S. journalist from Peru after they screened a film critical of a mining company in an Andean region while on tourist visas.

In April, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed attempts to restart talks between Morocco and Polisario over the Western Sahara conflict, and extended its peacekeeping mission there for another year.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj; Editing by Rosalba O‘Brien & Shri Navaratnam)

Western Sahara Independence Emissary Refuses To Leave Lima Airport

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 16:12

#World News
by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj

An emissary of an independence movement in the Western Sahara has spent two weeks in Lima airport and refuses to leave, after she was denied entry to Peru for alleged political activities on a prior visit, Peru’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Jadiyetu El Mohtar is a Spanish citizen who describes herself as the ambassador to Peru for a disputed area in the Western Sahara known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Peru is one of a few dozen countries that has recognized the self-declared SADR, which the Polisario independence movement claims is a separate state from Morocco. SADR is not recognized as a state by the United Nations and Peru suspended diplomatic ties with SADR in 1996.

El Mohtar had hoped to help reestablish those ties, she told Reuters by phone from the international arrivals area of Lima’s airport. She said she was awaiting an appeal to the decision to block her entry.

Peru said El Mohtar had violated the terms of a tourist visa by taking part in political activities during a previous visit. It has refused to grant her another visa and urged her to comply with an order to fly back to Spain.

El Mohtar has denied any wrongdoing and said her stay in Peru in July and August included meetings with environmentalists and feminists and did not violate migratory laws.

“I am sleeping on an inflatable mattress,” El Mohtar said. “I have come to work to pave the way for re-establishing diplomatic relations with Peru.”

Peru’s foreign affairs ministry said it was not considering reestablishing diplomatic ties with SADR and does not recognize Polisario representatives as diplomats.

El Mohtar said she has visited Colombia, Ecuador and Cuba without any problem.

Earlier this year, Peru banned a Canadian activist and a U.S. journalist from Peru after they screened a film critical of a mining company in an Andean region while on tourist visas.

In April, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed attempts to restart talks between Morocco and Polisario over the Western Sahara conflict, and extended its peacekeeping mission there for another year.

Reporting by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Mogherini Underlines Strategic Importance Of Relations With Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 15:41

All Africa
Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, underlined the strategic importance of relations between the EU and Morocco.

Answering a question by a European deputy, Mogherini said that “Morocco is a key partner in the EU neighborhood with whom it has developed a sustainable and valuable partnership for many years.”

“The strategic importance of the EU-Morocco partnership remains important at the political and the economic levels,” she added.

“Political dialogue (with Morocco) is complemented by the important financial contribution provided by the EU to institutions and civil society to support the reform process and ensure its implementation in accordance with international standards and the Moroccan Constitution,” she pointed out.

Tour Morocco Like A Pro

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 15:17

Travel Pulse
Tour Operator G Adventures
Eric Bowman

PHOTO: An obvious tip when visiting Morocco is to ride a camel! (photo by Eric Bowman)

Morocco is a beautiful country worth exploring at least once in your lifetime.

But before you go, there are some essentials you absolutely need to know. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or a few weeks, it’s important to understand and respect the country’s people and culture.

For starters, I’d highly recommend you do your visit to Morocco through a tour company, such as G Adventures. They have multiple options, from the YOLO style to classic to even a National Geographic Journey partnership.

If you want to experience the entire country and do it right, G Adventures will not let you down.

Casablanca gets a great deal of hype because of its namesake movie, and the city is worth seeing if you have time. But Morocco has so much more to offer in other cities to truly get that authentic experience.

Fez is also an extraordinary city and worth a visit as well, but Marrakesh, the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains are the top three things one must experience in Morocco.

Marrakesh is a gorgeous and vibrant city. The Sahara Desert and all it offers will take your breath away, while the Atlas Mountains will leave you with a huge (and perhaps newfound) appreciation for nature. You can knock all three of these out by starting in Marrakesh and then making the two-hour drive through the High Atlas Mountains to the desert.

The best time to visit Morocco is mid to late September and early October. It will still be warm, but not as crazy hot as July and August. Wait too long, and late October into November is busy season for tourism in the country.

As you prepare to pack for your trip, make sure to bring sunscreen, both for your body and your lips. I forgot the latter and paid for it dearly with chapped lips after the first few days.

The sun doesn’t mess around in Morocco, that’s for sure.

Also, bring travel size shampoo and conditioner if you know you’ll be staying in a Kasbah. Some places, even hotels, only provide soap. And if you’re out and about a lot, pack a roll of toilet paper. Some public restrooms do not provide toilet paper and might have someone at the door waiting to hand you some.

Be prepared to pay a couple Moroccan Dirham (MAD) to use the public restroom and to tip the individual who gave you toilet paper.

“But what would I wear?”, you ask.

For men, shorts are fine. Just make sure they go below the knee to be respectful if you plan to enter a mosque at all. For women, dresses and pants are recommended. However, it would be wise to make sure nothing is too revealing if you want to avoid potential harassment.

I did see some women in short shorts and tank tops, though, as the weather was quite warm. But as my tour guide, Mustapha said, it’s at the woman’s own risk if she wears revealing or tight clothing because local men (especially younger guys) are more likely to make remarks in her direction and possibly follow her around the city as well.

READ MORE 6 Great Places to Eat in Marrakesh, Morocco

If you’re the type who likes to stay plugged into social media and the internet, bring a SIM card you know will work internationally with your phone.

It’s best not to rely on the WiFi in some areas. Sure, some hotels are better than others at this, but you’re not always going to be in the hotel—especially if you’re doing a tour adventure.

So, either unplug or come prepared.

As for money during your Moroccan journey, you’re better off if you carry cash. There are plenty of ATMs in the bigger cities, so you don’t have to always have a ton on you at all times, but some of the places you might visit do not accept credit cards, particularly out in the desert and in the mountains.

Plus, every establishment much prefers you pay in cash anyway.

You will also need to make sure you tip people like waiters, drivers, tour guides, etc. Tipping is a big part of the culture in Morocco. Several locals don’t make that much money in their jobs, so tips are essential to their livelihood. (This is another reason having cash is so important during your journey.)

No doubt you will be doing some shopping in the markets of Marrakesh or Fez, so a word to the wise on handling vendors: don’t engage them unless you’re certain you will buy something.

It’s highly likely that one of them will follow you through the market as you walk making their sales pitch.

Keep your eyes forward and politely tell them you’re not interested. Chances are they’ll try a couple more times to get you to buy something but, if you show no interest, they will eventually stop and move on to someone else. For street performers, be ready to tip them at least a 10 MAD coin if you’re planning on engaging in their act.

And last but certainly not least, don’t drink the tap water. Sure, you might have some and ultimately be fine, but it’s not worth the risk of being sick and ruining your journey.

Fiat Chrysler’s Marelli Will Add Factory In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 15:05

Automative News Europe

Magneti Marelli said it will add a shock absorber factory in Morocco, a move that helps the North African country further build up a supplier base to support a growing network of vehicle assembly plants.

Marelli, which is a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is the second Italian supplier to announce expansion plans in Morocco. Sogefi said earlier this year that it will build a plant to produce engine filtration systems.

Both factories will be in the Tangier free trade zone. Marelli’s 37-million-euro, 20,000-square-meter factory is schedule to start production in 2019. Sogefi’s 10-million-euro 10,000-square-meter factory is expect to begin output next year.

Both suppliers, who are building their first factories in the country, said that their plants are likely to be expanded in the coming years to keep pace with an expected increase in orders from customers outside and inside Morocco, where local officials hope to announce the name of a third global automaker to build an assembly plant there before the end of next year.

In addition, the country is working to recruit a fourth major automaker plant before the end of 2021. A fourth project would help the country reach its stated goal of having the capacity to build 1 million vehicles a year by 2025.

The new players would join Renault, which has two factories in Morocco, and PSA Group, which will begin building cars near the coastal city of Kenitra in 2019.

Officials in Morocco know that to support those plants it needs a stronger supply base. Right now, 40 percent of the parts used to build vehicles in Morocco are locally made. The goal is to boost that level to 60 to 65 percent by 2020 by adding local output of electrical, steering and lighting systems, transmission parts, safety equipment, wheels and paint.

“In the last 12 months, we have taken big steps to attract new global players that will add key technologies,” Khalid Qalam, senior adviser with Invest in Morocco, told Automotive News Europe earlier this year.

He decline to reveal the names of any of the companies, but industry sources say that some of the other suppliers considering plants in Morocco include JTEKT (steering systems), Nexteer Automotive (transmission parts and steering systems) and Varroc Lighting Systems.

They would join companies such as Delphi, which makes advanced wiring systems and high-precision connection systems, and Denso, which manufactures air conditioning systems and instrument panels. Other global suppliers with operations in Morocco include glassmaker Saint-Gobain, seat maker Lear, wiring harness maker Leoni, interiors and exhaust system provider Faurecia and thermal energy management and electronics specialist Visteon.

Magneti Marelli CEO Pietro Gorlier said in a statement that the move into Morocco “represents an opportunity to further expand its business, responding to the demands and needs of a number of key clients that are making important investments in the area.”

Also in statement, Sogefi’s CEO Laurent Hebenstreit said: “This investment further strengthens the competitiveness of Sogefi’s manufacturing base and provides support for profitable growth in Morocco and in Europe.”

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

Women In Africa Club Summit Opens In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:31

Source: Xinhua

The first Women in Africa Club summit opened on Monday in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

Under the theme of “investing for better governance with African women,” the event attracted 300 business leaders, from nearly 37 countries, mostly African nations.

The summit aims to highlight the importance of women’s leadership in African societies, and to promote international and pan-African companies in support of women.

The three-day meeting will provide attendees with the opportunity to discuss concrete actions in order to offer African women greater opportunities to develop their countries.

The event includes conferences, master classes and collaborative laboratories featuring international experts to discuss various topics such as agriculture, energy, entrepreneurship, finance, water, and nutrition.

Moroccan Sahara: Bahrain Backs Final Solution Under Moroccan Sovereignty

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 01:20

The North Africa Post

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa has voiced his country’s full backing for a final solution to the Sahara issue under the Moroccan sovereignty.

Addressing the UN General Assembly convening in New York, the top diplomat of the oil-rich Gulf country stressed “the need to support the negotiations aimed at achieving a consensual and final political solution to this problem in the context of Moroccan national Sovereignty”.

The final solution should also be based on “relevant Security Council resolutions that confirm the seriousness of Morocco’s self-government initiative”, underlined the Bahraini foreign minister.

“We urge all parties to fully cooperate with the United Nations in this respect”, he added.

Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa also tackled other important regional and international issues. He called for a strong and stable Middle-East, saying his country supports positive relations with other countries.

The minister also renewed Bahrain adherence to the principles of non-interference in other countries internal affairs and expressed backing to the fight against terrorism and its sponsors.

“As partners, we can work together to preserve the security of the Gulf region, to combat terrorism and to provide protection for international navigation and commerce routes,” said the Foreign Affairs minister in his address.

He also urged compliance with international conventions and instruments to address the greatest challenge facing the international community – terrorism.

“Terrorism is no longer confined to terrorist organizations that can be confronted and eliminated. Rather, that menace has become a tool in the hands of States determined to create crises in other countries in pursuit of their own agenda”, he said, affirming that it is no longer acceptable to allow rogue countries to occupy others’ territories, violate the sovereignty of States, threaten international peace and security, support terrorism and spread hate and anarchy.

Posted by North Africa Post
North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Africa Strong Presence At The International Festival Of Ibn Battuta

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 18:14

by Ibn Battuta Association

Tangier meeting point for peace and tolerance.

The Moroccan Association of Ibn Battuta takes visitors on a cultural world tour during the second edition of International Festival of Ibn Battuta.

On 9 to 12 November 2017, the streets of Tangier will turn into a festive city filled with international display of talents, conferences, carnival, film screening, humorists, street art, theatrical plays, art exhibitions, musical shows, culture and friendly smiles. Inspired by the journey of the Great Ibn Battuta, visitors can experience traveling the world in less than a week, exploring into an atmosphere of cultural exchanges and finding inspiration for the next travel adventure.

For this edition, Africa had made sure to have a strong participation in all the activities, the organizing committee have receive confirmation of high profiles including but not limited VVIPs, dignitaries, government officials, ministers, ambassadors, artists, peace mediators and lecturers.

The association’s Honorary President, Mohamed Dekkak, states that this year’s theme – “Travelers, the Ambassadors of Peace”, aims to disseminate the ways the culture of traveling can drive PEACE. In this edition, Africans express high level of tolerance by having strong presence in this festival. Africa is not only land of opportunities but it’s also land of tolerance.

Aziz Benami,  the association President expresses that the event is a tremendous opportunity to bring to light some of Ibn Battuta’s travels, and adventures. The Afro barometer have shown that Africa have high degree of acceptance of ethnic groups, religions, cultures and languages.

On the second edition of the International festival of Ibn Battuta, there is many different stars participation like: Ulrich ZOUANDA, Safiath, Cisby, Malika, King Barra, Sarro, Agalawal, Soraya KSONTINI, Jamal BENMERAH , Farid MAACHOU, Yosra ZEKRI, Faten NAJJARI, khiri TAISH, Ahmed KOUAIB, Badro, Firas SBOUI, Hamid El HADRI and many more.

The festival is organized by the Moroccan Association of Ibn Battuta, a nonprofit international association that values artistic, moral and innovative action aimed at the improvement of tourism in Tangier and in Morocco. It considers the culture of traveling as the ultimate purpose of development.

Additional information can be found at https://ibnbattuta.ma/

E-mail: media@ibnbattuta.ma

Contacts: Sarah Garcia +971-26813111

SOURCE Ibn Battuta Association

Morocco To Build Port In Western Sahara City

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 15:40

Middle East Monitor

Morocco intends to establish a port in the Western Sahara city of Dakhla, the Interior Minister said last week. Abdelouafi Laftit revealed that the budget for the project will be $642 million but did not say when work will begin.

The minister explained that the port is one of 136 projects in the region with a total cost of $1.9 billion. Observers argue that the projects aim to enable Morocco to establish “facts on the ground” in the disputed Western Sahara.

According to Moroccan political activist Mustafa Boumlik, the state authorities are seeking to impose their sovereignty in the region through development and urban projects. “The government and the Polisario are well aware that the Sahara crisis will only be solved diplomatically, and not through war,” he told Masr Al-Arabia. Boumlik suggested that the government’s development plans in the region confirm its commitment to its perceived rights and sovereignty over the Sahara.

Meanwhile, international relations researcher Mohamed Lhariri noted that Spain is watching the situation carefully. “Spain is the former colonial power in the region,” he pointed out, “and it is still occupying parts of northern Morocco [Ceuta, Melilla and the Jafari Islands]. Madrid knows that it is not in its interest to end the conflict [in Western Sahara], because this will undoubtedly renew Morocco’s claim to the occupied territories in the north.”

Neighbouring Algeria, Lhariri concluded, is also reluctant to see an end to the conflict with the Polisario Front over Western Sahara, because it will enhance Morocco’s position in the region. The government of Algeria plays host to the leaders of the Polisario.

The Noble Family Rimbotti Open Their Historic Dwellings To Business Travellers

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 15:29

Travel Daily International
Vicky Karantzavelou

FLORENCE – After 20 years of successful management in luxury leisure, the historic residences of the Rimbotti family, by decision of Countess Maria Vittoria Colonna Rimbotti, are made available to top managers who wish to enjoy a stay of real comfort and prestige in the heart of Florence, the world class capital of fine arts, and cradle of Italian Renaissance.

It’s three buildings built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, plus a villa in Fiesole, which was inhabited by Alighieri family, were restored with love by the Rimbotti’s and brought to life again. A series of careful planning, since the 1960’s, have also contributed to elevate the beauty of the architectural context.

“Palazzo Rimbotti, for instance”, says the Countess, “located as in Piazza Antinori, at the beginning of Via dei Tornabuoni, is at the heart of the luxury shopping district of the city and today goes hand in hand with the baroque style of the Cathedral in front of it. The building has been a forerunner of the current trend in the area, considering that at one time the big maisons were not there and the boutique of Hermes that we host was the first to open in the neighbourhood.”

The ‘Palaces’ have all very large and comfortable apartments – no comparison with a hotel. The walls are frescoed and the paintings precious. They all date back to the golden age of Medici’s Florence. Extremely popular with the USA, Canadian and South American leisure customers, from today they are available for business travellers too.

“As for leisure, we are not interested in bite-and­run business tourism, so we have not made either reservations or prices available on the Internet; travellers contact us personally.”

The offer also includes two luxury boutique hotels in Syracuse and Fez (Morocco), described in detail below, alongside the Florentine residences.

On Algeria’s Fake News Diplomacy

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 15:19

The North Africa Post

Algeria’s disillusioned diplomacy is apparently resorting to fake news claiming that the SADR separatist entity will be invited to the Africa-EU summit.

As it endures setbacks one after the other in its ideologically anachronistic foreign policy, Algeria indulges in terminology games claiming that the African Union and the EU are negotiation to change the appellation of the event into EU-AU Summit in a scheme to impose the participation of its puppet Sahrawi Republic.

The fake news was propagated by Algerian government mouthpiece, Algeria Press Service news agency, which relayed the fallacious statements of its Ambassador in Brussels, Amar Belani, saying that the Polisario will receive an invitation to attend the Africa-EU summit.

Lessons from History

Such statements show the short memory of the Algerian diplomacy, which seems not to learn from past mistakes. Contacted by Moroccan based Le Desk news portal, sources within the EU maintain that only countries that are member of the UN are entitled to take part in the Africa-EU summit. No decision has been made to change the name of the event that will be hosted in Abidjan on November 29-30, the sources said.

In obstinately trying to impose the participation of a separatist entity in international events involving Africa and multilateral partners, Algeria is blocking efforts towards Africa’s development. Last month in Maputo, the follow-up meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was disrupted due to Mozambique authorities, under orders from Algeria, to impose the participation of the Polisario.

In strong worded response, Japanese Foreign Minister made it clear that Japan has never recognized the Polisario’s self-proclaimed republic and deplored the maneuvers of Mozambique authorities in their desperate attempt to give a seat to the separatist entity. The Japanese Minister said he was “astonished” at the Mozambican authorities’ maneuvers to give Polisario officials access to the TICAD meeting through backdoors, deploring that invited delegations, including members of the Japanese embassy, were mistreated by Mozambican authorities.

Algeria faced the same fiasco at the latest 17th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela in September 2016. Despite the pressure exerted by Algeria and the host country, NAM member states rejected the invitation to the self-proclaimed SADR.

Morocco’s AU membership sends shockwaves in Algeria

As it feels the heat of Morocco’s return to the African Union, the carpet is gradually pulled under the feats of Algeria. Morocco has always been criticizing the admission of the Polisario within the pan-African organization as an anomaly in contradiction with the international law. This view is also shared by a growing number of African states who see in the Algerian pro-separatist rhetoric an ideological anachronism that aims at manipulating the AU to serve Algiers’ own hegemonic agenda.

With Morocco’s return to the African Union, the Polisario sees gloomy prospects for its propaganda in the continent. In July 2016, at the African Union Summit in Kigali, 28 African countries submitted a motion demanding to freeze the Polisario’s membership in the continental organization. A course that is set to continue as more countries in the African Union see the Polisario’s membership as an aberration in contradiction with international law because the Polisario is not a state and lacks state attributes.

Recently, several African countries that once supported the Polisario separatist endeavor are backtracking. After a diplomatic offensive coupled with win-win partnerships led by King Mohammed VI in Africa, several countries have ceased to support Algeria’s plot to create a separatist entity in Morocco and affirmed support for the UN-led political process. These countries include African heavyweights such as Nigeria and Ethiopia, which now see new cooperation opportunities with Morocco.

Overall, Morocco’s return to the African Union has set the tone for a gradual demise of the Algerian-sponsored separatism in the Sahara as the Kingdom and its friends will act as a bulwark against any attempt to use the pan-African body to simmer tension and instability in the region.

The EU for its part does not recognize the separatist SADR entity. The EU, both at the Union and at member states level, maintains a stance in support of the UN process to find a political and mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara issue along the lines of UN Security council resolutions, which stress the preeminence of Morocco’s autonomy proposal.

Therefore, Algeria’s attempts to give Polisario militia a seat on an equal footing with EU and African member states at an international event is as pointless as it is unfeasible.

EU Does not Recognize Polisario

Voices are also rising in the EU against the Polisario. The separatist front’s proponents at the European Parliament have recently suffered a new setback with the rejection of an amendment to include a new aid to the Algeria-based separatist group in the 2017 EU draft budget.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) decried that it is inconceivable for the EU to continue funding a movement whose involvement in embezzlement and dilapidation is well established, notably following the disclosure in 2015 of a report by the EU’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) blaming the Polisario and Algeria for diverting humanitarian aid.

The OLAF report documents “well-organized, years-long” embezzlement by the Polisario Front of humanitarian aid designated for Sahraouis held in the camps of Tindouf in Algeria. The document states that aid theft “begins in the Algerian port of Oran, where the sorting between ‘what should arrive and what can be diverted’ takes place.”

On the need to undertake a census of the Tindouf camp’s population to determine actual humanitarian needs and bar the road to embezzlers, the report explains that ”One of the reasons that made these diversions possible is the overestimation of the number of refugees and therefore aid provided.”

Recently, MEPs also drew the attention of the European commission to the “inacceptable” imposture by Algeria of a tax on the humanitarian aid sent to the population in the Polisario-run Tindouf camps.

Algeria’s stance in support of separatism in Morocco has been dealt a heavy blow at the legal level. Last year, a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling restored the legality of the Moroccan-EU farm agreements after a legal challenge by the Polisairo, saying that the deals “do not concern the Polisairo front”.

Prior to the ruling, the ECJ’s Chief Advocate General Melchior Wathelet explained that the Polisario front is not a legitimate organization for contesting the Morocco-EU trade agreements.

Wathelet contested the validity of the Polisario’s legality to plea at the ECJ, saying that the Polisario is not recognized by the International community as a representative of the commercial interests of the population of the Sahara, although it is considered as a party in the political process to find a solution to the conflict over the Saharan provinces.

Algeria’s responsibility in Perpetuating Sahara Dispute

Algeria’s push to impose the participation of its puppet the Polisario in multilateral event is evidencing once more that Algiers is a party to the Sahara artificial dispute and not only an “observer” as its diplomats purport. Algeria can no longer hide behind its observer status and should take a seat at the table of negotiations to fully contribute to implementing the UN Security Council resolution. UN Security Council Resolution 2351, adopted last April, has once more reiterated the call on Algeria to uphold its responsibility to allow a census of the population held in the camps.

Algeria continues to fund and support diplomatically and militarily the Polisario militias, which it hosts in the region of Tindouf since the 1970s. The Polisario have been using Algerian territories as a rear base for their guerilla warfare against Morocco until the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement in 1991.

In 2007, Morocco put forward the autonomy initiative after the organization of a referendum proved to be unfeasible in view of disagreements over who is eligible to vote. Morocco offers the autonomy initiative, which has been internationally endorsed as a credible and serious basis for negotiations. The autonomy plan offers the Sahara exclusive powers with regards to managing local affairs within the framework of Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Furthermore, as relic of the cold-war, the Polisario remains obedient and dependent financially and diplomatically on its paymaster Algeria, which uses it to achieve regional hegemony to the detriment of regional stability.

Over the last years, support for the Algerian-sponsored separatist thesis in the Moroccan Sahara has been waning, as 43 countries have withdrawn their recognition of the SADR entity out of 80 that previously recognized it in a Cold War context.

Posted by North Africa Post

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Morocco Nabs 28 Spain-Bound Illegal Migrants

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 12:31

Source: Xinhua

The Moroccan authorities on Friday arrested 28 illegal migrants trying to reach the Spanish coast from the northern city of Tangier, local media reported.

The illegal migrants were arrested in two separate operations, leading Moroccan news site Hespress.com reported, citing a security official.

In the first operation, 16 migrants were arrested when preparing to embark on a boat bound for Spain.

The Moroccan navy arrested 12 more migrants in the second operation after intercepting their boat off Tangier.
The migrants were handed over to the security authorities to take legal actions against them, the source said on condition of anonymity.

As of Sept. 6, a total of 10,276 African migrants have arrived in Spain this year from the coast of Morocco, data from the International Organization for Migration shows.

USGC Trains Next Generation Of North African Grain Importers

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 15:06


Seeing is often believing, which is why the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) brought corn and feed grain buyers from Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to the U.S. Corn Belt in September to talk firsthand with U.S. farmers and export suppliers.

“These individuals represent the up-and-coming employees as managers or directors of the procurement departments of their companies,” said Ramy Hadj Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Bringing this team to the United States builds new and close relationships with these key corn importers as they become the leaders of their companies in future years to come.”

The grain procurement team traveled to North Dakota, Minnesota and Louisiana. As part of the tour, team members attended a grain procurement short course at the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, North Dakota, to further improve their grain buying and pricing skills. They also toured grain export facilities in New Orleans, Louisiana, and met face-to-face in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with major U.S. corn export suppliers and the U.S. farmers who produce the corn they purchase.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region includes a variety of growth opportunities for U.S. corn and co-products, but the region is very volatile. In addition, the United States faces ever-increasing, significant competition from Black Sea and South American exporters. To manage these dynamics and seize short-term market opportunities, the Council strives to be responsive to current market conditions by developing relationships and working to ensure importers are informed about U.S. crop availability and pricing.

“There is a constant need to increase awareness of origination and transportation to and through the U.S. export channels,” Taieb said. “Strong, ongoing relationships with key individuals and organizations can be catalysts for changes in policy, trading practices, demand and U.S. market share.”

The four countries represented on the team (Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) purchased 1.3 million metric tons (51.2 million bushels) of U.S. corn thus far in the 2016/2017 marketing year (Sept. 2016-July 2017). This includes sales of 871,000 tons (34.3 million bushels) to Morocco, the largest amount of U.S. corn exported to this free trade agreement partner since 2008/2009.

Significant opportunities also exist for U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS). The four countries imported nearly 342,000 tons of U.S. DDGS to date in 2016/2017, a 57 percent increase year-over year. Both Morocco and Egypt are on track to import record levels of DDGS, with almost 183,000 tons and about 149,000 tons sold, respectively. Both countries will beat previous records set in 2010/2011.

Showing the importance of strong trade policy, since the United States-Morocco free trade agreement entered into force on Jan. 1, 2006, imports of U.S. corn have varied widely, but have recovered rapidly from a sharp decline ending in 2012/2013. DDGS imports, in contrast, have increased nearly 11-fold since the inception of the agreement.

Learn more about the Council’s work in the Middle East and North Africa here.

Moroccan Firm Builds Morocco’s First Data Center

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 15:01

The North Africa Post

Moroccan firm, MEDASYS, built Morocco’s first Data Center with the aim of offering an information hub conducive to fostering the country’s cyber security.

The 100% Moroccan project is part of MEDASYS strategy to develop data centers in Morocco and Africa.

The Center spans over a surface area of 2,000 square meters in Temara, 8 Km to the South of Rabat.

On the sidelines of the center’s inauguration ceremony, MESASYS, signed an agreement worth 800 million Dirhams with British counterpart Zircom. The deal provides for cooperation in building datacenters and electrical services.

The Moroccan multi-subsidiary development group MEDASYS specializes in the construction and operation of neutral datacenters. It develops, manages and supervises its own datacenters and those of other customers.

Posted by North Africa Post

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Morocco Hosts African Government Officials’ Training Forum

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 14:46

New Business Ethiopia
By: newbusinessethiopia

The first forum for local government officials and managers of training institutions who offer training for African local governments took place at the Campus of the International University of Rabat (UIR), located at the Technopolis of Salé (Morocco) on September 18-20, 2017.

The forum was dedicated to the theme, “Human Resources in African Local Governments: The Time to Act … is Now!” and was sponsored by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-Africa) and its African Local Government Academy (ALGA).

The forum was attended by more than 400 participants from 58 countries, of which 46 were from countries in Africa, including Ministers, Presidents of Associations of Local Governments, Presidents and Directors of Training Institutes, local government senior staff, experts in local governance and members from civil societies and the general public.

Proceedings were opened by Mr. Noureddine Boutayeb,  Minister-Delegate to the Minister of Home Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco at the opening ceremony which was attended by: Mohamed Benabdelkader, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government, in charge of Administration and Civil Service Reform, Morocco; Ms. Jeanne d’Arc Kagayo Umurundi,  Minister of Municipal Development of Burundi and Ms. Hajia Alima Mahama,  Minister of Decentralization and Rural Development of Ghana.

In addition the following key personalities have Mr. Ahmed Ould Bah, Director of External Relations of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); Mr. Cheikh Ould Ahmed Ould Baya, President of the Association of Mayors of Mauritania, Vice-President of UCLG-Africa for the Region of Northern Africa; Mr. Mohand Laenser, President of the Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM); and Mr. Mohamed Boudra,  President of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC).

The three day forum addressed the following issues with extensive discussion around:

The place of human capital in the new geopolitical context of decentralization in Africa;
Networking of local government senior staff and peer learning;

Promotion of the quality of education, training and capacity building targeting local government administration;

Attendees included the following partners: the Department of Public Administration and Development Management; the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; the Bahrain Institute of Public Administration (BIPA); Cities Alliance; the National Center of Local Government Civil Service (CNFPT); the Seoul Human Resources Development Center (SHRDC); the Metropolis International Training Institute (MITI); the International City Management Association (ICMA) of USA; European Federation of Local Government Chief Executive Officers (UDITE); AAPAM Africa; the French Union of Directors General of Local Governments (SNDGCT); the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF); and the African Training and Research Center in Administration for Development (CAFRAD).

Proceedings ended with the adoption of a declaration from Salé which highlighted the challenges being faced in human resources for local governments, the urgency for training and the need to find sustainable solutions that would address the problem of funding for training and capacity building of elected officials and senior staff in African local governments.

The African Local Government Academy (ALGA) of UCLG-Africa was proposed as a center of excellence for the modernization and professionalization of management for local governments on the continent.

Participants expressed their interest that the forum of Salé be scheduled as an annual event at the International University of Rabat (UIR) under the aegis of UCLG-Africa and ALGA.

Morocco To Rehabilitate ‘Repentant’ Islamists

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:09

The Middle East Monitor

Morocco is introducing a plan to reintegrate radicalised detainees who have been convicted on terror charges back into society through the “consecrating citizenship” programme.

“DGAPR [General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration] is deeply aware of the importance of ensuring the conditions for the reintegration of the category of prisoners in cases of terrorism and extremism in penitentiary institutions and which requires an innovative scientific approach,” it said in a statement.

The approach is divided into three principles of reconciliation through changing oneself, working with religious texts and finally with society.

The DGAPR has allied itself with the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and the country’s Muslim scholars, Ulema, whose experience and expertise will be used to construct the reintegration programme.

A meeting has since been organised between the three bodies as the local Ras El Ma prison in the city of Fez for the reconciliation programme which will focus on “the spiritual rehabilitation of prisoners” and mainly include workshops led by prisoners who have been former “Salafi Jihadists”.

Read: The weakening of Morocco’s state institutions worsens the political logjam

These workshops serve as an opportunity for meetings between “repentant” Islamists and those detained on the same charges where they discuss various topics including “the relationship between extremist thinking and organised crime”. The aim is to use repentant Islamists as a model for others who have gone the same way to then renounce their ways and move on with their lives removed from any radicalism.

According to the DGAPR’s press release, the first trial of this programme that was implemented earlier this year has been “successful” with detainees who volunteered from the Al Arjat 1 prison.

In order to test the effectiveness of its work with these prisoners, the DGAPR tests the beneficiaries of the programme through practical exercises where they demonstrate the extent in which they have mastered “the dismantling of extremist discourse”.

Reconciliation offered to Islamists isn’t new to North Africa. In the aftermath of the brutal ten year civil war in Algeria, Islamists who had not taken part in the killings were offered a general amnesty in return for their arms through a reconciliation policy introduced by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika which has been successful in minimising the effect of radicalisation in the country.

Bond′s ′Desert Express′ For Morocco Tourists

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:15

DW Germany
DW Travel

Zugarbeiten in der Wüste (Bahnreisen Sutter)

Edouard Kunz knows timekeeping is important but the former Swiss watch precision mechanic admits that James Bond’s Oriental Desert Express in remote eastern Morocco never runs on schedule. “It takes between eight and 12 hours to make the trip, sometimes even more,” says Kunz, 70, who is known as Edi, blaming sandstorms for frequent delays.

His passion for trains put him in the driver’s seat more than 10 years ago when he persuaded Morocco’s National Office of Railways to let him run a tourist train on a disused railway line.

Zugarbeiten in der Wüste (Bahnreisen Sutter )
Sand as far as the eye can see

The track that runs near the border with Algeria was originally built nearly 100 years ago when Morocco was a French protectorate. It was part of an ambitious project, the Mediterranean-Niger railway, to link the sea to inland Africa. However, the project was short-lived and, in time, the mines and factories in Bouarfa shut down, until the desert region with its lunar landscapes was rediscovered by Kunz and the location scouts for “Spectre”. Exterior shots of the train making its way through the desert darkness were used in the Bond movie, a star-studded spy thriller with Daniel Craig reprising the role of 007.

James-Bond-Küsse in Indien kürzer (picture-alliance/dpa/Sony)
Lea Seydoux and Daniel Craig in “Spectre” (2015)

One of the most striking sequences in the film depicts a romantic dinner between Bond and a character played by French actress Lea Seydoux that is interrupted by the villain Mr Hinx, played by wrestler Dave Bautista. The resulting fight between Bond and Hinx in a train carriage has been praised by some critics as one of the best scenes in the whole movie.

Zugarbeiten in der Wüste (Bahnreisen Sutter )
Workers clean up the rails

The tourist train that Kunz hires from Morocco’s national railway operator is not quite as luxurious as the one featured in “Spectre”. Tourists can choose from a first-class, air-conditioned carriage and another that dates back to the 1960s, in which they can open the windows to take in the scenery and snap pictures. The train moves at a top speed of 50 kilometres per hour (30 mph), but this can often drop to 10 kph and sometimes the train has to come to a complete halt because of sand on the tracks. When that happens, workers resort to shovels to get rid of the sand before the train can proceed. “Some people buy BMWs but I bought myself a train,” Kunz says, with a chuckle, recalling how he struggled to make a profit with his desert train project. In a good year, he says, he makes five to six trips between Oujda and Bouarfa.

Daily Life in Fes (picture-alliance /A.Widak)
In Morocco mint tea is served all day long

On the route to Bouarfa, the first dozen or so kilometres are through a fertile plain, and then the train passes through the Tiouli tunnel. After that it is mostly desert. Along the way, passengers see abandoned train stations – and the more unusual sight of a former Roman Catholic church turned into a judo club, near a mosque. Kunz is hoping to transform one of the abandoned stations into a restaurant, but for the time being dinner is served in the train. The chef, Aziz, prepares local specialities – spicy tajine stews and mint tea – for the tourists. “This train is important. It creates jobs and helps promote our country,” Aziz says.

One of the passengers on the Oriental Desert Express is Mona, a young Moroccan based in Paris. “It is a welcome change of scenery. It’s nothing but an infinite desert behind us and ahead of us,” she says. “There’s an extraordinary atmosphere on the train,” she adds, comparing its slow progress through the Saharan sands to being rocked in a cradle.

From Moscow To Marrakech: Russia Is Turning Its Eyes To Africa

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 13:20

The Hill
by Anna Borshchevskaya
Opinion Contributor
photo by: GETTY

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.

If you thought Vladimir Putin would settle for only Syria in cementing Russia’s footprint in the Middle East, you’re in for a surprise. From Morocco to Egypt, Moscow has been expanding influence through arms and energy deals, tourism promotion, and diplomatic overtures to warm relations and slowly dislodge U.S. influence in North Africa.

Since Vladimir Putin officially came to power in Russia in May 2000 he systematically sought to restore the positions Moscow lost after the fall of the Soviet Union and the turbulent decade that followed. In the Middle East, Putin made visible strides by 2010. In North Africa, improvements became apparent more recently.

Russia-Egypt ties, already on the rise in Putin’s earlier years, noticeably improved after Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi led the military coup of July 2013 that ushered him into the Egyptian presidency. Bilateral trade between the two countries doubled to $5.5 billion in 2014, according to Russian statistics. Russia and Egypt held their first joint naval drills in June 2015, and military exercises in October 2016. This month, Cairo finalized negotiations with Moscow to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

Reportedly, Moscow had deployed special forces to Egypt on the Libyan border in March of this year, which signaled Russia’s growing role in Libya, a country with the world’s ninth largest oil reserves.

Here Putin is backing General Khalifa Haftar who controls the country’s oil-rich east but seeks leadership of the entire country at the expense of the U.N.-backed civilian government in Tripoli. Moscow offers Haftar diplomatic and military support. Haftar made three trips to Moscow since the summer of 2016, and in February of this year, the Kremlin flew several dozens of Haftar’s wounded soldiers to Moscow for treatment.

In June 2015, Moscow signed a Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear cooperation with Tunisia “(F)or the first time in the history of Russian-Tunisian relations” according to Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear regulatory corporation. In September 2016 the memorandum grew into a nuclear cooperationagreement. By the end of 2016, when Russian tourists couldn’t travel to Egypt and Turkey, approximately 600,000 came to Tunisia, a tenfold increase from 2015 and a sizable number compared to roughly 3 millionRussian tourists that used to visit Egypt annually.

Algeria has long been in Moscow’s camp and remained a top buyer of Russian arms throughout the 2000s. But in 2014 the two countries signed a $1 billion arms deal which a Russian military expert in business-oriented Vedomosti described as “possibly the largest export contract for main battle tanks in the world.”

Meanwhile, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI came to Moscow in March 2016, his first visit in fourteen years. The two countries signed a number of agreements on energy and counter terrorism, a “deep strategic partnership declaration.” Morocco aims to increase Russia’s tourists by four hundred percent, to an annual 200,000 in the next three years, and on my last visit to Moscow in May 2016 some of the city’s streets sported ads for trips to Morocco.

A major driver for Moscow’s push into Africa is arms sales and economic influence more broadly. Moscow used Syria to advertise newest weapons, and it’s paying off. “Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria,” said Russian deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov last month.

According to Russian deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin, these customers include African countries, which works well for the Kremlin. The Soviet Union poured resources into the African continent for ideological reasons. Putin will do no such thing. “(W)e know that the African continent has a great potential and it (cooperation) can be market-oriented and based on mutual interest,” he said in October 2016.

Still, the Kremlin’s larger aims are political and geostrategic. Putin’s overall military moves in the Middle East but also North Africa limit the West’s ability to maneuver. North African countries on the Mediterranean’s southern coast can potentially gain Russia, a traditional land power, access to additional warm water ports — something Russian leaders coveted since Peter the Great. Such access would allow Russia to project military power into Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

Russia’s economy is on a long-term declining trajectory and Kremlin’s plans may not pan out exactly as hoped, but can still produce limited success. Moreover, developing closer ties gives the Kremlin political leverage. Cairo has come to accept Moscow’s position in Syria, in support of Moscow-backed Bashar al-Assad.

Backing Haftar in Libya would both gain Putin greater access to energy markets (something he seeks to ensure Europe’s dependence on Russian energy) and cast himself as a peacemaker while preventing a genuine resolution, much as he had done in Syria. Meanwhile, working with Morocco, a crucial US ally in the region, sends a signal to Washington that it will have to deal with Putin here too.

Putin’s priority is regime’s survival. His foreign adventures are often domestic distractions, but survival is also connected to the West— working with it while simultaneously undermining it. North Africa is another crucial arena where he pursues this agenda. Speaking at Russia’s premier annual Valdai conference in October 2016 Putin said that Africa cannot be on the periphery of international relations. On this, Washington should believe him.

Anna Borshchevskaya is the Ira Weiner fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.