Western sahara Major events
Casablanca Finance City (CFCA), the panafrican financial center based in Casablanca, Morocco, sealed today a strategic partnership with the Korean financial center Busan International Financial City (BIFC).
Under the terms of this signed agreement, in order to promote and develop their common interests, the BIFC Promotion Center and CFCA expressed their willingness to strengthen their cooperation in multiple areas.
Both parties have agreed to enable the sharing of expertise, and to work together in order to develop a financial hub specialized in maritime finance, derivatives market, back-up centers.
CFCA and BIFC’s Promotion Center will also cooperate in order to attract financial institutions, regional headquarters of multinationals, holding companies, and professional services operators.
They will also support companies from each jurisdiction to develop the business. CFCA will support South Korean companies willing to do business in Africa and aims at becoming the platform for regional headquarters planning to expand in the region. The BIFC Promotion Center will do the same for Moroccan companies (major companies and financial institutions) willing to develop their businesses in South Korea.
Furthermore, both financial centres will collaborate on other activities for the promotion of the areas of cooperation above, including assistance in welcoming business and financial delegations, joint organization of seminars, and mutual exchange of information subject to the prior written consent from the other Party.
Mr. Said Ibrahimi, CEO of CFCA said: “We have a lot in common. Not only a strategic geographical location-we both are at the crossroads of two major sea routes- but also our key positioning as regional financial Hub. This MoU will therefore aim at merging our channels of expertise and know how, while promoting investment opportunities in both directions”
Mr. Young Ho Park, Head of Busan International Financial City Promotion Center, Busan Economic Promotion Agency, said: “This MOU is significant in that it will help us to strengthen our cooperation with Casablanca Finance City across continents to share the experience and knowledge on policy schemes of these two promising financial cities.”
About Busan International Financial City’s Promotion Center
The Busan International Financial City Promotion Center was established by Busan Metropolitan City Government in 2008 and is under the umbrella of the Busan Economic Promotion Agency. The BIFC Promotion Center supports Busan City to grow into a global financial center specialized in maritime finance, derivatives market, and back-up centers. It aims at promoting Busan as an attractive Financial Hub for global financial institutions. BIFC Promotion Center’s missions include financial industry research, the establishment of a financial city base, the cultivation of financial manpower and financial city promotion.
CFCA is a public-private partnership dedicated to positioning Casablanca as an international economic and financial center and a premier gateway into African market for financial institutions, headquarters of multinational corporations and professional service firms. Casablanca Financial City Authority is empowered by law with the overall management and promotion of Casablanca Finance City.
Additional information about CFC can be found at www.casablancafinancecity.com |Twitter: @casafinancecity | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/casablanca-finance-city
Fatim-zahra SAADANI, Tél : +212 5 20 30 03 80
CASABLANCA FINANCE CITY
Sultan Mohammed III issued a declaration to establish diplomatic relations with the USA./Ph. DR.
On December 1777, Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah, has been trying to seek diplomatic relations with the American Republic that has recently declared its independence in 1776.
As part of a very well studied step, the Sultan announced his desire to befriend the USA. His request, as indicated by the U.S Embassy and Consulate in Morocco website, was an endeavor to strengthen the country’s economy through maritime trade.
The Emperor, back in the time «wanted to establish state-controlled maritime trade as a new, more reliable, and regular source of income which would free him from dependency on the services of the standing army», the same source recalls.
Morocco as a first step opened its ports for American ships allowing them to freely navigate alongside the other vessels coming from countries that signed treaties with the kingdom, such as Russia, Malta, Sardinia, Germany and other European nations. The declaration issued by the Sultan made Morocco the first country to acknowledge the legitimacy of the USA as a republic with which trade and diplomatic relations should be maintained.
The Sultan’s Letters
However, American officials, led by Benjamin Franklin did not respond to the Moroccan request. One year later following the first declaration, Sultan Mohammed III, reissued another statement which was «belatedly learned». «The February 20 declaration was again sent to all consuls and merchants in the ports of Tangier, Sale, and Mogador informing them the Sultan had opened his ports to Americans and nine other European States», said the article.
The sultan’s will to put efforts into attracting the Americans did not stop right there. In 1778, Mohammed III named Etienne d’Audibert Caille, a French Merchant of Sale, a Consul for all the nations unrepresented in Morocco. Caille was occupied with the task of writing to the Americans and let them know formally that the Sultan is ready to sign a trade treaty to ensure their diplomatic ties. Unlike expectations, Caille’s attempts were met by negligence, as Benjamin Franklin did not trust him.
The Congress finally responding
The new consul wrote on the behalf of the Sultan to Franklin in 1779 and to the congress during the same year as well as to the American Representative in Madrid. All these letters fell on deaf ears, until 1780 when the American congress finally replied to the Moroccan request through a letter that said :
«We the Congress of the 13 United States of North America, have been informed of your Majesty’s favorable regard to the interests of the people we represent, which has been communicated by Monsieur Etienne d’Audibert Caille of Sale, Consul of Foreign nations unrepresented in your Majesty’s states. We assure you of our earnest desire to cultivate a sincere and firm peace and friendship with your Majesty and to make it lasting to all posterity. Should any of the subjects of our states come within the ports of your Majesty’s territories, we flatter ourselves they will receive the benefit of your protection and benevolence. You may assure yourself of every protection and assistance to your subjects from the people of these states whenever and wherever they may have it in their power. We pray your Majesty may enjoy long life and uninterrupted prosperity.»
After receiving the Congress letter the Sultan waited for two years while American ships were granted the same status given to the other European trade vessels entering the Kingdom’s ports. On May the 7th 1784, the «congress authorized its Ministers in Paris, Franklin, Jay, and Adams, to conclude treaties of amity and commerce with Russia, Austria, Prussia, Denmark, Saxony, Hamburg, great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Genoa, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Venice, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Porte as well as the Barbary States of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli».
The Treaty of Friendship and Amity
Despite the courageous step taken by the congress, delays kept annoying the Sultan who decided to act differently. On October the 11th 1784, Mohammed III detained an American merchant ship named Betsey in Tangier and ordered the American government to sign a treaty in exchange of the Men, ship and cargo. Indeed, in 1785, a treaty between the USA and Morocco was under negotiation and the Sultan released the Bestey crew and shipment.
Following that, «on October 11, 1785, the commissioners appointed Thomas Barclay, American Consul in Paris, to negotiate a treaty with Morocco on the basis of a draft treaty drawn up by the commissioners, the source stated. A Treaty of Friendship and Amity was signed in Marrakech by the Sultan by on June 23rd and was shipped to Barklay who signed it equally on June 28th.
A different treaty was signed later on July the 6th 1786 in Marrakech to identify American and Moroccan vessels. It was later in 1797, the USA established a Consulate in Morocco after realizing the satisfactory results of the treaty first requested by Sultan Mohammed III.
photos: Mary Mathis
M’HAMID EL GHIZLANE, Morocco — For generations, they were known as “rain nomads,” herders who moved constantly along the western rim of the Sahara Desert in search of a patch of green where their goats and camels could graze.
Then the rain, never plentiful, became even more sporadic. Temperatures got hotter. A dam choked another source of precious water, the Draa River. Not even the camels could endure.
Families whose lives revolved around the seasons and the needs of their livestock, gave up and became villagers. Over the years, many settled in this oasis town whose one main street merges into the edge of the desert.
About two-thirds of Morocco’s roughly 25,000 remaining nomads live in this region about 200 miles south of Casablanca, according to a 2014 government survey. The number of nomads had fallen by 63% from the previous decade, the same survey by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning found. While there are a number of reasons for the decline, climate change is among the main causes.
Laghroumi Mohammed uses a dowsing stick to search for underground water on his family’s …more
Climate conditions created by global warming trap hot air around the Sahara, so the desert actually is expanding, said Meryem Tanarhte, a Moroccan professor who holds a doctorate in atmospheric chemistry.
Tanarhte said Morocco has seen a decrease in precipitation, increasing heat extremes and severe drought over the past 30 years. And it will worsen.
The Max Planck Institute for Chemistry predicts that temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa will increase twice as fast as the global average. Even if the overall rise in temperatures can be held below the Paris climate accord’s target of 2 degrees Celsius, the entire region is likely to become uninhabitable, the institute said in a 2016 statement.
““The river died, and it killed us with it.”” – Laghroumi Mohammed
The conditions already are too extreme for the camels and goats essential to the nomads’ lifestyle. The animals provide milk, meat and skins. They are sources of transportation and traditional medicine, and can also be sold for income.
El Gasni Hamadi, 43, said his family’s camels died because of drought, and one animal is etched in his memory when she couldn’t get up one morning. “There was no answer,” he recalled. “No one to help; nothing to do. And she just died in my arms.”
Hamadi’s family settled here decades ago, when he was 7. The family had around 100 camels in 1995. Now, they have only 10.
Mohammed Boulfrifi, 37, said his family settled in M’Hamid, a town of 7,500, when their goats became so malnourished that their ribs were visible.
The Draa River, an important source of water for M’Hamid El Ghizlane and other Moroccan desert …more
“It’s not just us,” Boulfrifi said. “Half the village came from the desert before — they were nomadic. Half. Or more than half.”
The village has not escaped the effects of climate change. Ali Daimin, a shopkeeper in M’Hamid who holds a master’s degree in history and geography, said there never were sand dunes in town.
“It was land for agriculture, for everything,” he said. “Now part is completely covered by sand. You can’t use it for anything.”
George Zittis, a post-doctoral fellow specializing in climate simulations at the Cyprus Institute’s Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, predicted temperatures on the hottest days here would exceed 120 degrees by the end of the century. That is more than 10 degrees warmer than now.
“What we consider extreme in a present climate will be normal in a likely future, unless greenhouse gases are substantially reduced,” he said.
But Tanarhte said scarcity of water will have the biggest impact because agriculture depends on precipitation. “So if it doesn’t rain, everything goes wrong,” she said.
El Gasni Hamadi, standing in back row, was born a nomad but now teaches French and Arabic at the …more
Hamadi said precipitation has always been so sporadic that there is a saying in town: If an antelope is standing in the desert when it rains, one horn gets wet while the other stays perfectly dry.
A study by German scientists estimated that by 2050 annual rainfall, which averages only a couple of inches across the region, is likely to decrease by between three-quarters of an inch and 1.6 inches.
The Draa River long served as another source of water until the Mansour Eddahbi dam was built upstream near the city of Ouarzazate in the 1970s to provide hydroelectric power and irrigation, and to control floods. The flow downriver to M’Hamid decreased, and the problem has gotten worse as the river’s sources of water in the Atlas Mountains receive less rain.
It used to be easy to find water close to the surface of the dried river, but people are now forced to dig 25 feet or more, said Boulfrifi and Laghroumi Mohammed, another former nomad. When they do find water, it is often unusable because of salinization.
Mohammed, 52, once followed the date harvest for three months each year, pitching a tent of palm leaves along the river and digging shallow wells to bring water to his family.
Now many of those date palms are stumps blanketed by sand dunes. “The river died, and it killed us with it,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed said the river used to bring water to M’Hamid if even a quarter-inch of rain fell upstream. Now, there is nothing, even if three or four times that amount falls.
Other reasons also encourage nomads to give up their lifestyle — access to education and health care, and restrictions on movement across the border between Morocco and Algeria.
Hamadi recalls the dramatic change from living with camels and goats as a nomad to sitting in a classroom. He eventually became a teacher in M’Hamid. But people like him are an exception.
Many former nomads have found work in tourism as camel trekking guides.
The Moroccan High Commission for Planning said 84% of nomads have received no formal schooling. Boulfrifi, who settled in the village when he was 20, said there are few job opportunities for people like him.
“I don’t know how to write. I don’t know how to read. I have never been to school,” he said. “What kind of work can you do?”
The answer for him and many others has been tourism. Some former nomads lead treks to campsites in the desert or to the Erg Chigaga dunes, about 30 miles west of M’Hamid. Boulfrifi helps manage a desert camp.
“There is the military or tourism. And people, they prefer to be in tourism,” he said. “The people here, they like open air and to be free.”
But they also question whether tourism is really the answer. Many think there is a lack of government attention to the issues facing M’Hamid. So some residents have started their own initiatives.
Hamadi’s family launched a cooperative making date jam to provide a steady income for former nomads. An association works with the Agriculture Ministry to provide nomads with subsidized camel food, and another group helps women sell handicrafts.
Mouloud Tanzint, 33, who was born a nomad but now holds a master’s degree in human rights issues, said governments must take a global approach to climate change. He cited examples of polar ice melting and changes in precipitation in South America.
In the meantime, many here find little reason for optimism. “With the climate, we cannot decide,” said Daimin, the shopkeeper. “It’s not in our power. But based on what’s happened, it can only get worse and worse.”
Perry DeMarche and photographer Mary Mathis attended the School of International Training (SIT) Study Abroad journalism program in Morocco, where they produced this report in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that supports young journalists. Yassine Chaoui contributed to the story.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called Monday for common African vision on ways of dealing with migration issue.
Addressing migration issue requires an innovative approach by creating synergies between development plans and migration policies, the king said in a speech at the 29th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian capital.
“Africa is losing its youths due to legal and illegal migration. There is no way such a loss can be justified. Should our young people’s fate be at the bottom of the Mediterranean? Should their mobility become a hemorrhage? Certainly not! I think it is up to us to deal with this issue properly,” the king said.
Morocco will submit a paper focusing on need to lay out a common African vision on migration, the king noted.
Construction Week Online
Rajiv Ravindran Pillai
Morocco will build the world’s largest desalination plant for drinking water and irrigation, following the signing of phase one of the $352.9m project.
The project will be developed by an international company Abengoa in the Agadir region in partnership with the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) and BMCE Bank.
Mohamed Boussaid, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture, chaired the signing of the conventions in the Souss-Massa region on 29 July, in Rabat, according to Morocco World News.
Akhannouch said that the project “constitutes a lever for sustainable socio-economic growth for the entire region.”
The project involves the construction of a desalination plant with a 275,000m3 total production capacity of desalinated water per day that will be the largest plant designed for drinking water and irrigation. The contract also provides the flexibility for the possible capacity expansion to up to 450,000m3.
The desalination plant, which also provides for the option of being operated on wind power, meets the demand of water for domestic use in addition to irrigation water needs in the area of Agadir.
Abengoa will continue to undertake the engineering, construction and operation and maintenance for a period of 27 years, as per the contract. Abengoa and the Moroccan company InfraMaroc will be investment partners and responsible for the project financing.
Abengoa has been present in Morocco since 1977 and has offices in Rabat and Casablanca.
By Samia Errazzouki
photo: Abderrahmane Mokhtari
Morocco’s surprise delay in announcing its proposed currency liberalisation came only because the government needed “further studies” of the plan, Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani said, dismissing speculation that it ran into significant problems.
Last week, Morocco’s central bank postponed for “a few days” its planned announcement of the first phase of liberalising the dirham, a key reform backed by the International Monetary Fund. The central back gave no reason for the delay.
In a weekend interview on Morocco’s two public television channels, Othmani said he met with Finance Minister Mohammed Boussaid and central bank Governor Abdellatif Jouahri to discuss the move to a flexible currency regime and “the decision will be made at the right time.”
The dirham’s value is now fixed by a peg that is weighted 60 percent to the euro and 40 percent to the dollar. The first stage of reform will let the currency trade in a narrow range, which will widen over the course of up to 15 years.
The apparent delay left traders worried about the progress of the liberalisation. Morocco has advanced more than its North African neighbours in fiscal reforms, but like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, it is wary of unrest from currency shifts or cuts in state subsidies on fuel and basic foods.
According to one source with knowledge of the process, the delay was caused by “last-minute fine tuning,” although neither the central bank nor the government has said exactly how long the announcement will be delayed.
“What is proposed is a move to 5 percent margin,” the prime minister said, confirming a previous Reuters report that trading fluctuation will widen to 2.5 percent each way. “It’s not a floating of the dirham, but it’s just a degree of flexibility in the price of the currency,” he said.
Trading fluctuations are now only about 0.6 percent.
Othmani also denied reports one reason for the delay was a depletion of foreign reserves by $4.4 billion in the last two months. All Moroccan institutions involved in the process would need to agree about moving to a flexible regime in “order to protect the purchasing power of the Moroccan citizen,” he said.
Othmani also said the government had decided to reform the currency. The central bank’s role was making preparations and “taking the necessary precautions, approving the procedures.”
“It has the tools to intervene in the appropriate time to maintain the trading margin. This is the general context,” Othmani said of the central bank.
(Editing by Patrick Markey, Larry King)
By Van Hipp
King Abdullah II of Jordan (L) arrives at the inauguration of an exhibition in the Museum Mohamed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art, where he is received by King Mohammed VI of Morocco (R) and painter Mehdi Qotbi (C), in the Moroccan capital Rabat on March 23, 2017. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)
It was 1777. America, the fledgling young republic that had declared its independence from British rule the year before, was struggling to survive. There was one nation, however, that stood by America in its early days and was actually the first country in the world to recognize America as a sovereign nation. France, you might guess? No, while the French were a great help militarily during the American Revolutionary War, the first nation that actually recognized our sovereignty was Morocco. In 1777, Moroccan Sultan Mohammed III became the first head of state to recognize the United States and added America to the nations Morocco’s ports were open to.
Almost a decade later, in 1786, the United States of America and Morocco signed the US-Morocco Treaty of Peace and Friendship which, to this day, remains the longest standing treaty in our nation’s history. And in 1789, President George Washington actually sent a copy of the U.S. Constitution to Morocco.
The Sultan, who was a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, came from the Alaouite Dynasty. Today, his descendant, Mohammed VI sits on the throne as King of Morocco. Morocco is America’s oldest ally, and over these past 240 years, has remained one of America’s best allies. Over the years they have been rock solid and steady in support of the United States. Their relationship with the USA has often been overshadowed by others and because the Moroccans don’t always tout the long-standing relationship on the world stage, they truly are America’s forgotten ally.
Consider the following:
Morocco has long sided with the United States during wartime throughout American history. During the first Gulf War, Morocco was the only Maghreb (Northwest Africa) member of the U.S. led coalition.
Morocco has been a key ally in the United States’ War on Terror and according to Wall Street International earlier this year, Moroccan intelligence has dismantled 40 terrorist cells and arrested 548 people since 2015.
U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Special Forces Command have worked closely with Morocco over the years conducting various training exercises, including the recent Operation Flintlock 2017.
Moroccan and American troops have engaged in joint airborne training and Morocco has a partnership with the Utah National Guard.
Morocco has provided key counterterrorism intelligence to the U.S. and its allies on ISIS. According to former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg last year, Moroccan Special Forces actually deployed with American and French counterterrorism special forces in Europe to uncover ISIS cells.
A free-trade agreement (FTA) exists between the United States and Morocco and Moroccans have actually bought more goods and services from the United States than we buy from them.
Morocco also has a solid and reliable leader in its King, Mohammed VI, who has carried on the traditions of his late father, King Hassan II. He has granted more power to women and continues Morocco’s tradition of good relations with Christians and Jews.
In fact, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Vice President Yael Eckstein has stated that Morocco defines tolerance and “is one of the few places where Christians, Muslims and Jews coexist in peace and mutual respect.” In 2011, the King appointed respected international human rights activist Driss El Yazami to chair Morocco’s National Human Rights Council. El Yazami is a strong friend of the United States. He visited Charleston, South Carolina, two years ago following the Emanuel AME Church tragedy to praise the people of Charleston for showing others how to come together with strong spirit which “is a real message for hope for all of us.”
To be clear, America has other solid allies in the Muslim world like King Abdullah of Jordan, who is also descended from the Prophet Muhammad, and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who had the guts to stand up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S. also has to deal with old allies who are now unreliable, like Turkey. Last year, Turkey’s autocratic ruler Recip Tayyip Erodgan shut down power at the Incrilik Air Base and temporarily prohibited all U.S. Air Force planes stationed there from taking off and landing. This at the very NATO base where reports estimate close to 50 B-61 nuclear bombs are housed in underground vaults.
Today, the United States is confronted with the most complex foreign policy situation in our nation’s history. Morocco, America oldest ally, and yes, our forgotten ally, can now be a bridge to both Africa, where radical Islam is on the rise, and to the Middle East and Muslim world. It can also help fill the void being left by once reliable allies like Turkey. Now is the time to strengthen and foster America’s relationship with our oldest ally — America’s forgotten ally — Morocco.
Van Hipp is chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI), a Washington, D.C. consulting firm. He is former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and served on the Presidential Electoral College in 1988. He is the author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It.” To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.
Morocco’s economy grew by 4.8 percent in the second quarter of this year, up by one percentage point over last year, local media reported on Sunday.
The official High Commission for Planning said in a note that the growth was mainly due to the rise in agricultural output by 17.4 percent in the second quarter this year, up by 3.2 points from the first quarter, the site of the Moroccan daily l’Economiste reported.
Apart from the agriculture sector, which accounts for more than 15 percent of the country’s economy, the non-agricultural sector grew by 3.3 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, the commission added.
As for the third quarter of 2017, the official planning agency expects the economy to grow by 4.1 percent in compared to 1.3 percent a year earlier.
The Moroccan economy was hit hard by a drought in the fall of 2015, which compromised the 2016 agriculture production. Helped by heavy rainfall in late 2016, the economy has greatly improved.
By Ekemini Ladejobi
Nigeria has successfully brokered peace between Morocco and Saharawi Democratic Republic (SDR) on the wordings of the report of the human Rights abuses between the two countries.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday reports that mediation took place barely a day after Nigeria assumed the leadership of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) at the 31st Executive Council meeting of the 39th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.7
Me. Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs who led the peace team told newsmen that Nigeria’s leadership of the PSC in peace and conflict came at the right time.
“The invitation for Nigeria to mediate in the crisis with Morocco and SDR is the new confidence that the AU has in Nigeria and to call on her to play a bigger role in the organisation.
“We are going to do just that; we have this responsibility and we are going to assert it to the benefit of the continent.’’
The minister explained further that Morocco had threatened to block the work of the Executive Council meeting of the AU because the council could not arrive at an agreement on the report of an evaluation mission to the SDR.
`We could not arrive at any agreement because those who were supporting Morocco stuck to their positions and wanted to see the paragraph removed while those for SDR wanted it to stay.
“Nigeria agreed to mediate and we met with the representatives of the two countries, and we were able to find an acceptable solution and the council of ministers were very relieved.
“We were able to get them to agree to the text the council proposed to them.
“It was not easy to get both countries to agree but it is very important for the organisation because, we have to look at the bigger picture, Onyeama said.
Meanwhile, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Acting President of Nigeria is expected to attend the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU.
Onyeama said Osinbajo will address the Union mostly on the institutional reforms and the issue of financing the AU.
“We want to reform African Union and there is a proposal already on the table especially on how to finance the union.
“Nigeria is one of the key contributors to the union and of course the acting president will be engaged in the whole issues that concern ECOWAS including issues of finance and institutional reform, ‘’ he said.
Saharawi Democratic Republic is a partially recognised state that controls a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara region and claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.
SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara, a former communist liberation force (modeled after that of Cuba) which has since reformed its ideological and political views.
It calls the territories under its control the Liberated Territories or the Free Zone.
Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces.
The SADR government considers the Moroccan-held territory to be occupied territory, while Morocco considers the much smaller SADR-held territory to be a buffer zone. (NAN)
The North Africa Post
The Polisario is a ‘totalitarian organization’, representing an ideological anachronism peculiar to the Cold War era, said Spanish writer Jose Mariia Lizundia in an opinion article on La Provincia.
The Polisario “is a myth created by some Sahraoui students in Moroccan universities in the 1970s in connivance with leftist Spanish military officials of the Franco era and other left-wing politicians and newspapers in Spain,” explained Lizundia in the article that describes the Algerian-based separatists as a “relic of the Cold War.”
Historically speaking, the area internationally known as “Western Sahara” has never been an independent state, he wrote, noting that the Sahara has always been a part of Morocco. Likewise, he laid bare historical fallacies by separatists and their desperate attempts at falsifying historical facts saying that terms such as “Sahraoui Nation” has never existed. The Sahara was rather inhabited by tribes pledging allegiance to Moroccan Sultans.
In his article, the Spanish writer shed light on facets of the firm grip held by the Polisario in the camp of Tindouf. He said the separatist movement adopts “Stalinian” methods to purge any opposition to their authoritarianism in their rear base in the Tindouf camps, where slavery, summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture are inflicted on people held against their will.
He deplored that the Polisario lacks independence in decision-making, as it remains a puppet manipulated by the Algerian military junta.
Lizundia highlighted the suffering of the people held within the Polisario-run Tindouf camps who face lethal reprisal if they venture to speak up their minds against the Polisario administration.
Yet, in his analysis, the Spanish writer gave a detailed description of the oppressive nature of the Polisario militias but fell short of highlighting the role of Algeria in creating, arming and protecting the separatist front. After all, it is Algeria, under putschist President Boumedien, that instigated the Polisario to wage war on Morocco and spent its oil mantra on nurturing a separatist thesis that poisoned Moroccan-Algerian relations for decades.
Algeria has also relegated the administration of a part of its territory in Tindouf to the Polisario where they engage in all sorts of abhorrent human rights violations, terrorism and criminal activities.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Algeria offered a sanctuary to Polisario militias in their guerrilla war on Morocco using hit-and-run tactics. Having recently received military equipment from the Algerian regime, the Polisario is becoming more than ever a tool used by Algiers to destabilize Morocco and sap all efforts seeking to find a lasting, political and mutually acceptable solution based on the Moroccan autonomy initiative.
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.
Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP Photo
Abdelhak El Khiyame claims he has disbanded 167 terrorist cells. But is he really Morocco’s answer to the FBI, or is it just hype?
Abdelhak El Khiyame, the director of the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigation speaking to the media after dismantling a militant cell based in the southern city of El Jadida, on Jan 29, 2017 in Sale, Morocco.
Had it succeeded, the plot could have wiped out Morocco’s valuable tourist industry overnight. Holed up in the breezy surfing town of Essaouira, a cell of would-be ISIL gunmen were plotting an armed rampage, bringing extremist carnage to a resort famous for its hippy image.
But on June 22, the four suspects were arrested before they could act, sparing the resort once frequented by rock star Jimi Hendrix from mass bloodshed.
Officials claim they were aiming to repeat ISIL’s 2015 atrocity on a resort near Sousse in Tunisia, in which the group massacred 38 people and killed off the country’s tourism trade at the same time.
Just how close the Essaouira cell was to carrying out their attack remains unclear. But either way, the fact that Morocco remains safe enough to attract some ten million tourists a year is testament to the record of the country’s chief “Terrorist Hunter” — Abdelhak El Khiyame, the head of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation.
The dapper policeman, who leads Morocco’s answer to the FBI, claims the country’s security services have thwarted more than 340 terror plots since 2002 and dismantled 167 terrorist cells.
Much as human rights groups sometimes query his agency’s methods, few can dispute the end results.
Since the 9/11 attack in 2001, Morocco has had only two major terror incidents: a suicide bombing in Casablanca in 2003 that killed 45, and a 2011 bombing in Marrakech that killed 17.
Moroccan media gives much of the credit to Mr El Khiyame, 59, a career detective who has brought modernising zeal to the country’s security apparatus.
What is equally remarkable is that people actually know who he is. Unlike counter-terrorism chiefs in other Arab countries who seldom appear in public, Mr El Khiyame is a familiar face on TV, giving interviews to news channels and newspapers.
Favouring smart suits with waistcoats, ties and matching pocket handkerchiefs, he is the polar opposite of the stereotypical Arab intelligence spymaster, looking more like Hercule Poirot or a university don.
He also styles himself as a man on a personal mission, declaring: “I fight terrorism every day because these people deface the covenant of Islam I believe in.”
In breaking the mould of his shadowy profession, Mr El Khiyame aims to draw a line under a long period in which Morocco’s security services were feared and mistrusted.
During the “years of lead” era — used to describe the reign of the previous monarch, King Hassan II — dissidents and democracy activists were ruthlessly suppressed and often “disappeared”.
While the human rights climate has improved under Hassan’s son, King Mohammed VI, the burgeoning war on terror has made the role of the security services more crucial than ever.
For as much as Morocco may have been spared bloodshed on its own soil, it has produced its fair share of violent extremists. By Mr El Khiyame’s own estimate, more than 1,600 Moroccans have gone to fight for extremist groups abroad, mostly in Iraq and Syria, with around 400 killed in combat.
Members of Morocco’s diaspora have also played their part in recent terror atrocities in Europe. Two of the men involved in June’s attacks at London Bridge in Britain had Moroccan ancestry, as did several of those involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015.
Moroccans were among those convicted over the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 192 people, and in 2006, US officials said that at least nine men involved in suicide bomb attacks in Iraq had come from the same Moroccan town of Tetouan.
Mr El Khiyame blames much of the problem on poor schooling, which allows young Moroccans to be brainwashed into joining ISIL. Following the arrest of 10 female ISIL suspects last year, he pointedly criticised Morocco’s education system, asking: “Where is the role of parents, school and civil society in such cases?”
But while he supports “hearts and minds” strategies designed to turn young Moroccans away from extremism, he also backs Morocco’s tough anti-terror measures — such as a law passed in 2015 making it illegal for anyone to join ISIL abroad.
His agency co-operates closely with the West, and was credited by France in 2015 for information that helped them track down the mastermind of the Paris attack, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed in a raid on a Paris flat five days after the attack.
Mr El Khiyame has also accused his European counterparts of not doing enough. He claims to have warned Belgian officials as far back as 2008 that the Molenbeek district of Brussels — where Abaaoud and two other attackers grew up — “could constitute a real breeding ground for terrorists”.
“Belgium is becoming the Daesh of Europe,” he warned last year. “Terrorism has no religion and no nationality”.
Mr El Khiyame has his own critics too. Despite attempts by the Moroccan authorities to improve their observance of judicial process, Ahmed Benchemsi, of Human Rights Watch, said there were still cases where suspects seemed to have been deceived or coerced into signing confessions.
“This follows a pattern we have documented in the past where people were compelled to sign admission statements either by torture or psychological pressure,” he said.
A media source who had dealt with Mr El Khiyame’s agency added that despite his openness, it was seldom possible to verify any of the claims made about breaking up terrorist cells.
In one case, where the agency said it had arrested 45 suspects in a single village, journalists’ own inquiries had suggested only one was an actual suspect and the rest were simply neighbours caught up in a sweep.
Whether last week’s arrests fall into that category, nobody knows. But genuine or not, the more the agency proclaims its victories, the more the Terrorist Hunter also has to live up to. Were ISIL to stage a major attack in Essaouira now, even his considerable PR skills might be put to the test.
The North Africa Post
The European Police Office (Europol) foiled in Rotterdam port an attempt at trafficking a considerable cargo of arms to terrorists in the Spanish-occupied cities of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco, Moroccan newspaper al Ahdat reported.
The seized weapons comprised pistols and machine guns and were intended to be smuggled through Sardinia to North Africa, the paper said.
The weapons were ordered by terrorists in northern Morocco with a view to perpetrating attacks undermining public order, said the paper, recalling that Morocco’s anti-terrorist agency, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ), had dismantled a terrorist cell planning to use fire arms to assassinate political figures.
Morocco has been cooperating closely with EU member states on security issues leading to joint operations especially with Spain and France against terrorist cells.
Last September, Former Interior Minister said that he discussed with European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the possibility of sealing a comprehensive agreement on security cooperation between relevant Moroccan authorities and the Europol.
In the annual study dubbed: “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2016”, issued by the Inter-University Centre on Terrorism Studies (IUCTS) and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Morocco has been described as the country “least affected” by terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel with zero attacks reported in 2016.
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.
by Joshua S Hill
The Kingdom of Morocco has this week signed a three-year Joint Programme of Work with the International Energy Agency to help the country in its transition to a low-carbon economy, focusing on energy security, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
The North African country known as the Kingdom of Morocco has only been an Association Country with the International Energy Agency (IEA) since last November, and this week the two signed a three-year Joint Programme of Work to deepen bilateral collaboration in the areas of security, energy efficiency, renewable energy, capacity building, and data and statistics. Specifically, the work program is aimed at helping speed a transition to a low-carbon economy based on Morocco’s particular needs. The program will see the IEA Secretariat and the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development work to reach the Kingdom’s long-term energy targets.
“This Joint Programme of Work takes the long-standing relationship between the IEA and Morocco to a new level,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, at the signing ceremony in Paris. “It will cement the partnership between the two parties for a more sustainable and secure energy future. Morocco’s leadership and commitment to expanding the deployment of renewable energy and weaning itself off imported fossil fuel are to be commended.”
His Excellency Aziz Rabbah, Morocco’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, left, and Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. Photograph: ©IEA/Andrew Wheeler
We don’t necessarily hear a lot about Morocco, maybe because it is relatively small-fry in terms of its renewable energy capacity. The Kingdom of Morocco only has around 2 GW worth of renewable energy capacity, dominated by 1,265 MW of large-hydropower and 798 MW of onshore wind energy. In total, as of 2013, Morocco had 4,471 GWh of renewble electricity.
The Kingdom was nevertheless the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (often lumped together as the MENA region) to join the IEA’s Association initiative, which is aimed at opening its doors to emerging economies. Further, in 2009, Morocco set an impressive target of reaching 42% electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2020. Additionally, Morocco implemented net metering legislation for solar PV and onshore wind plants, with private generators being allowed to sell up to 20% of their production.
Morocco has numerous renewable energy resources, including obviously wind and hydro-power, as well as large solar resources, and is already a regional leader in terms of deploying these clean technologies. The Kingdom is looking to reduce its reliance upon fossil fuel imports, while solving the gap by increasing renewable energy generation. Morocco was also one of the first MENA countries to cut fossil fuel subsidies and introduce energy efficiency measures — a step that even many western countries have failed to do.
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From: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Mr Thomas Reilly has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco in succession to Ms Karen Elizabeth Betts.
My first visit to Morocco was in 1998. I liked the country so much that I came back again in 2000. Those two visits left me with a tremendously positive impression of a country rich in history, culture and diversity. Little did I think that I would be back here nearly 20 years after my first visit as the British Ambassador.
It is a huge honour and a privilege to act as the representative of the UK in Morocco. I am delighted to be here now and to arrive during Ramadan is an additional blessing. Over the years, I have enjoyed Ramadan in Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt and I am looking forward to sharing it in Morocco too, as well as to learning more about Morocco during my time here. My family (who are not yet with me in Rabat) are also very excited to be moving to Morocco and are looking forward to living and learning here.
That the Morocco/UK relationship is a strong and enduring partnership, is clearly demonstrated by the fact that it is already more than 800 years old. As British Ambassador, I will be following in the footsteps of innumerable predecessors, dating back to the formal establishment of diplomatic relations when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I sent her Ambassadors to the Court of Morocco’s Saadi Sultanate. In exchange, Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour sent his Principal Secretary, Abd el-Ouahed Ben Massaoud as Moroccan Ambassador to the Court of Queen Elizabeth. This appointment has had a lasting impact on British culture – Abd el-Ouahed Ben Massaoud is reputed to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s hero, Othello. Queen Elizabeth I spoke of Morocco in very warm terms – “The great friendship and cooperation that exists between our Crowns” – a warmth and closeness between the monarchies of both our countries that endures to this day.
That Royal relationship is replicated across our societies – each year more than 600,000 British tourists visit Morocco, drawn by the history, culture, geography, climate and most importantly by the warmth and generous hospitality of the people of Morocco. One of my ambitions for my time here in Morocco is to encourage even more British tourists to visit and have the chance to explore and get to know this unique Kingdom and its people.
The UK and Morocco also enjoy close commercial ties, with bilateral trade worth more than $2 billion each year. The UK is among the top six foreign investors to Morocco. Another of my priorities is to foster an ever closer partnership between Moroccan companies and their British counterparts to further strengthen these commercial ties and increase bilateral trade through mutual support in niche commercial areas.
One of those niche areas is renewable energy, where there are some very exciting opportunities. Morocco aims to increase its renewable electricity generation to 52% of energy demand and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 32% by 2030. These goals clearly demonstrate Morocco’s ambition and drive in this sector and the potential to become a global leader in the sustainable and renewable energy sector. In this context, the city of Ouarzazate, renowned as the location for the filming of Lawrence of Arabia, is pioneering a revolutionary solar power station, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The UK also has substantial experience in renewable energy and in regulating energy markets. Morocco also needs gas for its power stations and British companies are well-placed to work with Morocco to meet this need.
UK diplomatic policy in North Africa is focused on building a secure, peaceful and prosperous region, underpinned by shared values of human rights and democracy. This policy aim is supported by a number of projects in which Morocco is a key partner. For example, earlier this year the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and the House of Councillors of the Moroccan Parliament signed a Memorandum of Understanding whose objective is to support the Parliament in upholding human rights, share public policy evaluation experiences and help Morocco’s Parliamentary Research Centre build its capacity.
Another area of shared interest is education and academia. I am looking forward to working with Morocco on building deeper academic and educational links between our two countries. The UK is home to some of the best universities in the world and we are proud to share them with Morocco’s future leaders through our Chevening Programme, through which Moroccan students have the opportunity to study at Universities all over the UK. So far, over 160 talented Moroccans have benefitted from this great initiative and I hope very much to increase that number during my time as Ambassador.
The relationship between our two countries today is in many respects stronger now than it has ever been and I look forward to building on this relationship to continue to develop an even closer partnership of equals across the different sectors which bind Morocco and the UK so closely together.
I would like to close by taking this opportunity to wish you a happy, blessed and above all peaceful end of Ramadan and a happy Eid.
Published: 30 June 2017
Japanese firm JTEKT, a bearing maker, will establish a manufacturing facility in the northern Moroccan city of Tangier, the Tanger-Med Port announced on Thursday.
The plant will span over a surface of 6.5 hectares at the Tangier Automative City Zone located in Tanger-Med Port, the Moroccan port said in a statement.
It aims to provide a direct supply for the growing automobile industry in Morocco, the statement said.
With 15-million-euro investment as a first step, the construction works will start in 2018, it said.
The initial production capacity is expected to reach 230,000 units a year, it noted.
The Japanese firm JTEKT provides major vehicle manufacturer with steering system for manoeuvring car and drive parts to propel car forward.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Thursday granted Morocco 120 million U.S. dollars to financing a water conservation project in northern part of the country, official news agency Maghreb Arab Press reported.
The project consists of building a 135 km primary transmission pipe from the Mdez dam to the Saiss plain in northern Morocco, the report said.
It aims to replace water abstraction from the local aquifer and water resources of the Saiss plain, which is currently over exploited, according to the news agency.
It said over 7,000 peasants are expected to benefit from this project.
by Samia Errazzouki
Morocco’s central bank has postponed for “a few days” its announcement of the first phase of liberalising its dirham currency, a key International Monetary Fund-backed reform for the North African kingdom.
The central bank sent an invitation to reporters this week to say the much-anticipated announcement would take place on Thursday at a news conference with the central bank governor and finance minister. But the central bank in a brief note to reporters said it had been delayed.
A finance ministry official did not respond to multiple requests about why the announcement had been pushed back, and central bank officials declined to give a reason.
The announcement had been delayed “a few days,” the central bank said in an email to journalists without giving any further details.
The unexplained delay may reinforce investor concerns about transparency in the currency liberalisation process after several conflicting statements about the start date in the past few months.
“The process is out of control and the guys in Rabat are behaving like in panic mode,” said one trader in Casablanca, where Morocco’s stock exchange operates. “The mismanagement of a sensitive process is putting the confidence of stakeholders at risk.”
The central bank late last year said the first stages of a gradual move from currency controls to a flexible exchange rate would be implemented in the second half of 2017, along with other reforms like inflation targeting.
The dirham is fixed via a peg that is 60 percent weighted to the euro and 40 percent to the dollar. The first stage will ease that peg to allow the currency to trade in a narrow range, which will expand gradually over the course of up to 15 years.
One concern has been the level of Morocco’s foreign reserves. The finance minister blamed speculation ahead of the currency announcement this week for a $4.4 billion drop in reserves in the last two months.
(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
by Ali Haidar
The June session of the UN Decolonization Committee ended in New York Friday (June 23) on a double failure of the Committee Chair, Venezuelan ambassador Rafael Ramirez, and of the Algerian diplomacy with regard to the Moroccan Sahara issue.
The vigilance of Moroccan diplomacy and the mobilization of Morocco’s friends from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific that are member of the Special Committee (C-24) foiled all the maneuvers of the representatives of Venezuela and Algeria. These representatives wanted the C-24 to grant the Polisario the status of a legitimate representative of the populations of Western Sahara.
Morocco’s opponents were forced to withdraw from the draft resolution all the paragraphs introduced by the Venezuelan presidency on the recommendation of the Algerian delegation.
These paragraphs referred to the participation of the Polisario as a legitimate representative of the populations of the Moroccan Sahara and called for a visit by a delegation of the UN Decolonization Committee to these Sahara provinces.
Morocco’s friends insisted on the rejection of the status of representative of the Sahara populations that Rafael Ramirez was maliciously seeking to confer on the Polisario. Seven members of the Committee sent a letter to the Committee Chairman challenging his maneuvers to impose this so-called representativeness of the separatist front.
The Committee members sent a clear message to the Venezuelan Ambassador, to Algeria and to its protégé the Polisario, whose biased attitude has divided the Committee.
The majority of the committee members have thus exposed the personal and ideological agenda of Ambassador Ramirez and his Algerian colleagues about the Moroccan Sahara and the so-called representativeness of the Polisario.
And all the deceptive attempts by the Committee Chairman harming Morocco’s interests and favoring the Polisario were thwarted by Morocco with the support of its friends.
By Deus Kibamba
Photo: Agence Marocaine de Presse
HM King Mohammed VI (file photo)
Having written a great deal about regional integration in the Gulf, I have realised that a lot of people miss facts on a few other countries in that region.
Beyond the dispute between Qatar and its neighbours that I have been discussing, there is another international stalemate between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi. This has existed for decades without a solution but efforts are underway for the conduct of diplomatic talks and a referendum as a way out of it.
For the processes to succeed, Africa must collaborate with the United Nations in the course of finding lasting peace for the West African region. Only recently, the Economic Community of Western African States was able to see off Yahya Jammeh after he lost the presidency in the Gambia. This set a record in having regional communities demonstrate meaning in the manner that Ecowas did.
There has been another issue facing the sub-region involving Morocco and Western Sahara. The Kingdom of Morocco has had a mixed history of international relations generally and diplomatic rapport with her neighbours in particular.
Starting with its withdrawal from the African Union, then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Morocco has a record of being internally united and internationally firm. The country’s withdrawal from the OAU on November 12, 1984 was justifiable given the fact that the continental body had decided to recognise and admit Sahrawi in 1982.
The main issue for Morocco has been the fact that the scientific principles of secession and/or annexation were violated in the case of recognising and admitting Sahrawi. On the positive side, the United Nations, of which Morocco remained a member and maintained a permanent Mission since independence, was keen to follow the rules of procedure before recognising a territory’s sovereignty.
Taking the case of the newest nation in the world, a referendum had to be exercised for the people of Sudan to decide whether or not South Sudan can be given independence. Likewise, the people of Morocco and Western Sahara can undergo the same processes of deciding on the future of their land.
Morocco has been a UN member since November 12, 1956. On the other hand, Sahrawi, which is a former Spanish colony, has a disputed territory status with the United Nations and is only recognised as a non-self governing territory.
Despite delayed recognition of Morocco’s reign over Sahrawi, there is increasing international support and recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory as part of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Hence to diplomatically and politically resolve the ongoing sovereignty issue, two things should happen: first, dialogue should take place to be followed by a referendum for the people to decide on their identity. The good news is that the UN is in the process of setting the process in motion through the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso).
There are also ongoing talks between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, which the UN is moderating. Polisario, which is also known as Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro, claims sovereignty over Western Sahara since its disputed independence in 1975. The bad news is that the media in Africa and globally is sound asleep on these developments in the Maghreb.
For now, a significant part of Western Sahara, especially in the south, remains part of Morocco since the Madrid agreements of 1975. One wonders how the AU in its previous version could have proceeded with recognising the territorial sovereignty of Western Sahara the way it did. Thanks to the United Nations, a consensual deal may soon be reached.
A constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, Morocco is governed by a king, namely Mohammed VI (pictured), who is also the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Underneath the king, there is Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani, who oversees the day-to-day government operations. In terms of international relations, Morocco is a member of a number of organisations, including the United Nations, Arab League, Union of the Mediterranean and AU.
Surprisingly, not much is known in Africa south of the Sahara about the Gulf and Maghreb regions. How many people in Tanzania, for instance, are aware that Moroccan statehood dates as far back as 789 during the reign of King Idrisid and that the famous Atlas Mountains are actually situated in Morocco? The stalemate in the Maghreb and how it has been dealt with should be a lesson to regional communities all over Africa.