The moroccan press
Washington, DC, July 20, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) – This week officially marked 230 years of friendship between the United States and Morocco, with the anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the longest-lasting treaty in US history.
Morocco played a critical role in the early days of the US republic as the first country to officially recognize the fledging American nation in 1777. In 1780, General George Washington and the Sultan of Morocco began an official correspondence that quickly led to a mutual interest in negotiating a “Treaty of Amity and Commerce” to set out the conditions of trade relations between the two. It took persistence on the part of the Sultan, as the colonies were still fighting a war, and there were few American diplomats charged with negotiating treaties. The final draft of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship was approved by the Confederation Congress in July 1787.
Other milestones include the first US consulate in Africa and the Middle East, inaugurated in Tangier in 1797, and the first multilateral treaty, signed by the US and nine other countries in 1865, to erect a lighthouse in Tangier as a navigational aid.
More recently, Morocco assisted the US and its allies during World War I and II; our economic and commercial ties were enhanced through the 2004 bilateral Free Trade Agreement; and Morocco continues to provide strong counterterrorism cooperation, as well as participating in Strategic Dialogue and joint military training exercises with the US.
“The Treaty of Peace and Friendship is a remarkable document with an enduring legacy,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. “Our long friendship with Morocco continues to this day, based on shared values and a common vision.”
The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
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The 70th session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) opened on Thursday in Rabat.
The two-day event, chaired by speaker of Guinea-Bissau’s National Assembly, Cipriano Cassama, will discuss several issues, including admission and readmission within the UPA as well as the implementation of decisions and recommendations of the Conference of Presidents.
The criminal court of the Salé Appeal Court on Wednesday morning gave verdicts ranging from two years to life sentence against the accused in the events related to the dismantling of the Gdim Izik camp.
The court has sentenced to life imprisonment Abhah Sidi Abdellah, Al Ismaili Ibrahim, Bani Mohamed, Mohamed Boutankiza Lbachir, Laâroussi Abdeljalil, Lakhfawni Abdallah, Lamjid Sidi Ahmed and Sbaï Ahmed.
The United States stressed, on Wednesday, the multidimensional nature of the Moroccan strategy in fighting violent extremism, which places at the top of its priorities the objectives of economic and human development, vigilant security measures, as well as regional and international cooperation.
"Morocco has a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter-radicalization policies," said the US Department of State's Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, published in Washington.
Al Hoceima: Majority Parties Call on Citizens to Adhere to Decision of Not Authorizing July 20 Demonstration
The parties of the government majority called on the inhabitants of Al Hoceima to adhere to the decision of the local authorities of not authorizing the demonstration of July 20 to preserve the climate of serenity and public order.
Breaking Travel News
A six year, US$100 million renaissance orchestrated by Parisian interior designer Studio MHNA has brought the age of Morocco’s Saadian dynasty to architectural life in the dramatic form of the new landmark Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech.
Comprehensively reconfigured as a modern reinterpretation of the traditional architectural hallmarks found in noble Moroccan mansions of the 16th century, the hotel’s design features include a central fountain, cloistered gardens and peripheral double gallery, while the iconic interiors feature contemporary variations on traditional Moroccan decorative arts.
Inspired by the notional journey of a nomad discovering the refuge of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi, sultan of the Saadian dynasty from 1578 to 1603, Studio MHNA’s innovative design draws guests through a series of differing, complementary spaces, to the majestic central ‘oasis’ or lobby.
On arrival, guests are plunged into the world of an imaginary oasis, passing through a promenade lined with gardens; various inviting lounges, fountains and water features; an ‘airlock’ overlooking a monumental door; and finally a majestic lobby with the ‘oasis’ at its heart.
Modern techniques have been applied to many traditional Moroccan design features to create several remarkable signature pieces.
A dramatic wall of 3D mashrabiyas, or latticework panels, was made using laser cut metals.
A backlit wall of mother-of-pearl provides a stunning contemporary showcase for the ancient mosaic techniques of local craftsman.
Crowning the lobby, beneath a cupola, is a magnificent nine metre high chandelier, made using a high-tech stamping technique from the aeronautical industry.
Ambient lighting includes a stunning feature wall adorned with 1,200 bespoke LED lamps, developed especially over two years by Studio MHNA to recreate the luminous flicker of candlelight – conjuring not just a magical warm atmosphere, but also significant reductions in energy consumption.
With the hotel adjoining the city’s largest and most important convention centre, the Palais des Congrès, Studio MHNA also had to ensure its design was suitable to simultaneously accommodate two very different types of guests, providing an equally appropriate and warm welcome for leisure and business clientele.
In order to achieve this, two distinct guest journeys were created, each taking its own path to a separate, dedicated lobby.
Each type of clientele is thus able to enjoy a tailored, privileged welcome experience: the group lobby is designed to smoothly manage large flows of people, whilst the individual guest lobby offers a more private service.
Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech reopened in October 2016 under the management of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts after completing an extensive renovation and expansion programme.
Inspired by the vision and achievements of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi, Sultan of the Saadian dynasty, the hotel is a contemporary oasis from the enchanting buzz of the Red City, just a few minutes’ walk from the bustling Medina in the central L’Hivernage district, and only 15 minutes’ drive from Marrakech Menara Airport.
A Moroccan court sentenced 23 Sahrawis on Wednesday to prison terms ranging from two years to life over the killing of 11 members of the Moroccan security forces in contested Western Sahara.
The verdict in the case, which has been closely followed by human rights campaigners, was delivered at dawn by the Court of Appeals in Sale near Rabat, the official news agency MAP reported.
Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front independence movement have accused each other of provoking the deadly clashes between police and Sahrawi protesters at a camp for displaced people in Gdeim Izik in November 2010.
In 2013 a military court sentenced the defendants to jail terms ranging from 20 years to life.
International rights groups condemned that trial as “unfair” and in July the Court of Cassation ordered a civilian court to examine the case.
Morocco says Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony mostly controlled by Rabat, is an integral part of the kingdom.
The Polisario Front demands a referendum on self-determination for the territory.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch this week issued a joint plea for the Moroccan authorities to ensure the verdict in the trial was not based on confessions or statements “obtained under torture or other ill-treatment during police interrogations”.
The NGO Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture has criticised what it called an “unfair trial” that took into account “confessions signed under torture”.
In May, the defendants and their lawyers announced they would no longer attend the trial, alleging “irregularities”.
The Moroccan authorities have sought to underline what they called the “transparency” and “fairness” of the civil trial, which was open to the press and international observers.
Business Brief: Morocco Reaches for Stronger Trade Ties with Russia; Islamic Financing Legislation Inches Forward; and African Development Bank Ups Support – Jean R. AbiNader
Even though it’s summer, Morocco’s leaders are still actively promoting stronger economic relations globally. The African Development Bank extends additional support for industrial growth in the Kingdom; and the Chamber of Deputies authorizes expansion of Islamic financial services.
Morocco-Russia ties set to increase. Since King Mohammed VI visited with President Vladimir Putin in March 2016, talks aimed at increasing trade between the two countries have continued. Most recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita co-chaired the sixth Mixed Moroccan-Russian Commission for Economic, Scientific, and Technological Cooperation in Moscow. He noted that the King was “keen on boosting partnership with Russia on all levels, as it plays an important geo-political and economic role” that Morocco welcomes. It is now Russia’s second largest trading partner in the Arab world and Africa, with a total bilateral trade value of $2.5 billion.
Minister Bourita continued, “Morocco aspires to be Russia’s major Arab and African [trading] partner. We are ready to put all our efforts to reach that goal. The kingdom also wants Russia to be among the ten major trading partners of Morocco.” To this end, he identified several sectors for cooperation, including existing partnerships in agriculture and fishing, and opportunities in new technologies, pharmaceuticals, and the automotive sector. He also mentioned Morocco’s potential role as a gateway for Russian investors to West Africa.
In response, Alexander Tkachev, Russia’s agriculture minister seconded the importance of boosting agricultural trade and said that there are also plans to increase Russian tourists threefold, from 50,000 to 150,000 per year. The Russian minister also affirmed that Moscow wants to boost its oil and gas exports to Morocco.
Islamic financial instruments approved. Since the approval of five joint ventures to provide Islamic financial instruments in Morocco, the government has been putting in place the various elements needed to make this a reality. The most recent steps, according to Morocco World News, have been the adoption of two decrees by the government council charged with implementation. The decrees cover what is termed “participatory finance,” i.e. financing in which the borrower and seller are both involved in the investment. One governs Sukuk, which are investment certificates; the other governs Takaful, which is insurance coverage. For those who are not familiar with Islamic finance principles, the basic tenet is that both parties share in the risk, with no one guaranteed benefit over the other (as in paying interest on a loan).
The provision on Sukuk provides for how the securitization of assets in an investment are to be certified and then placed with local investors, and under what conditions. The Takaful bill spells out the authority of the government agency responsible for Islamic finance to define the provisions of insurance contracts, types of insurance, and the terms and conditions. It empowers the Ministry of Finance and Economy to “set the criteria and terms of remuneration of the insurance and reinsurance undertaking for the management of the Takaful account, as well as the arrangements for distributing technical and financial surpluses between participants in the Takaful operations.” It is on the basis of this remuneration and distribution that business benefits both partners in the transaction.
The Minister of Finance and Economy, Mohamed Boussaid stated that the effective launching of participatory banks in the Moroccan financial sector will allow diversification of sources of financing, stimulating the collection of financial savings, particularly that of households, and promoting investment by those who currently avoid western style commercial banks.
African Development Bank (AfDB) gives more support for Morocco’s industrial drive. In launching the Support Program for the Acceleration of Industrialization in Morocco(PAAIM 1), the AfDB approved a $200 million loan aimed at consolidating the “foundations for sustainable and shared growth” as Morocco’s industrialization moves apace. The goal is to increase industry’s GDP share to 23% and create half a million jobs by 2020.
In addition, the Board also approved an APA risk-sharing agreement amounting to $50 million to the Central Popular Bank (BCP) to meet the demand for greater trade financing. This will be used to “hedge a portfolio of transactions up to $100 million supporting a cumulative value for $700 million in intra-African business operations over a three-year period.”
A story in North Africa Post noted that “According to the AfDB, the APA will meet the growing demand of African markets for trade finance in vital economic sectors such as agri-food, health, services, and industry. In addition, it will promote regional integration and financial sector development and help generate additional tax revenues for several African States. This agreement will support in particular Moroccan exporters as well as banks and SMEs on the continent.”
Trade and project financing is especially critical to Morocco’s economic growth. The article pointed out that “To date, 32 transactions amounting to USD 2.3 billion in commitments are registered under the partnership between Morocco and the African Development Bank Group. The projects concern the transport, energy, water, and sanitation and agricultural sectors.”
Pick a card, any card. Morocco’s Interbank Monetary Center (CMI) reported that in the first six months of 2017, credit card activity rose by more than 84% over the same period in 2016, 3 million vs. 1.6 million. The largest increases were registered by domestic users. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) recorded a total of 134.5 million transactions from both national and international credit cards. Cards from Moroccan banks dominated transactions in the kingdom at 98.2 percent. Wow, they’re loving their plastic!!
The post Business Brief: Morocco Reaches for Stronger Trade Ties with Russia; Islamic Financing Legislation Inches Forward; and African Development Bank Ups Support – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
July 19, 2017
It has been ten years, a decade, since Morocco offered an initiative in the Security Council to provide a generous autonomy to the population of Western Sahara. Ten years is a long time to wait for action, especially for a problem that already has been around for more than four decades.
It has been 15 years, a decade and a half, since the Security Council began passing yearly “resolutions” calling on the Parties to achieve a mutually acceptable “political solution” to this problem. Morocco’s ten-year-old initiative was a response to the Security Council’s encouragement to offer some kind of reasonable political compromise, and has been praised as “serious, credible and realistic.”. It was also a response to much additional encouragement from Washington, which took a long hard look at the Moroccan initiative and decided it was more than generous by the international standards of other such autonomy arrangements. Thus, the certificate of approval from successive US Administrations both Democrat and Republican since it was first presented in 2007.
It has been nearly 18 years, approaching two decades, since the United States Government set this dynamic in motion when it decided that efforts to conduct a referendum to determine the fate of the territory were both futile and ill-advised and “resolved” to put its diplomatic weight behind ending this problem with a fair-minded political solution that gave both parties what they needed, even if it denied them all they might want.
Much pondering, thorough discussion, wide internal consultations and numerous meetings preceded the State Department decision in early 1999 to abandon the failed United Nations effort to hold a vote on the future of Western Sahara. Eight long years had already elapsed trying to bring the Parties to agreement on who should be allowed to vote in a referendum. It was perfectly clear by late 1998 that neither eight more years nor eighty would ever bridge the divide. I know. I was there. Time to move on to something more practical and realistic. Good American logic.
But after all the milestones now passed since that original decision in the corridors and conference rooms of Foggy Bottom, decades of them, you have to wonder what has become of the original U.S. “resolve” and what is the value of all those Security Council “resolutions” calling for a political solution.
Unfortunately, what now seems most clear, after all these years, is that U.S. “resolve” is maybe less firm than the word suggests, and that “resolutions” carry less weight than the Security Council might wish.
We hear frequently these days, with political speech increasingly scrutinized for meanings both evident and implied, that “words have meaning.” If so, maybe it is also time to take some actions that demonstrate just how meaningful words can be.
In Western Sahara, a demonstration of our resolve to settle this matter through a fair-minded political solution could well start with some unambiguous words in a U.S. statement that not only is Morocco’s initiative “serious, credible and realistic,” but, in fact, this kind of trade-off between sovereignty and autonomy offers the only way to resolve this issue. Backing up that kind of statement with some concrete and visible actions to support Morocco’s current and ongoing efforts to prepare the region for such autonomy might also begin to persuade other Parties that our “resolve” does finally have real meaning, and that we plan to become more visibly resolute in its pursuit.
The post Western Sahara – Resolve? and Resolutions? – Robert M. Holley appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
London South East
By Maryam Cockar
LONDON (Alliance News) – Sound Energy PLC said on Wednesday its TE-7 well has demonstrated “very strong” pressure recovery to date at the Tendara reservoir in Morocco.
The London-listed upstream gas company said the pressure build up of the well is currently ongoing and pressure stabilisation is estimated to require a further six to eight months.
Reservoir simulations by Sound Energy have suggested that, once the reservoir has reached full pressure stabilisation, the connected gas volumes in place for production from TE-7 would be around 40.00 billion standard cubic feet.
Sound Energy said this is consistent with its preliminary volume estimates from May and allows the company to confirm a field development concept with regular spacing of sub horizontal stimulated wells at Tendara, which would be similar in design to well TE-7.
Following the extended well test on TE-7 during a draw down phase, the bottom hole pressure was recorded at 393.8 bar, a metric unit of pressure, against a final drawdown flowing reservoir pressure in January of 140 bar immediately following the test and an original reservoir pressure of 422.6 bar.
In January the company flowed close to 1.00 billion cubic feet over 56 days during the drawdown phase and Sound Energy said it has retrieved the downhole pressure gauges from TE-7 to analyse the initial reservoir pressure response.
Shares in Sound Energy were up 0.5% to 49.50 pence on Wednesday.
By Maryam Cockar; firstname.lastname@example.org; @MaryamCockar
The Council of the Arab League praised on Monday the role played by HM King Mohammed VI, chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, in the protection of Al Quds.
In a statement issued following an extraordinary meeting dedicated to Israel’s latest violations, the Council also commended efforts made by King Abdullah II of Jordan to preserve the holy places in Al-Quds.
The Council expressed its pride with the mobilization of the Palestinian people to defend the Arab character of the holy city and praised efforts made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in this regard.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet received, Monday evening at the Moneda Palace in Santiago, Speaker of the House of Advisors Hakim Benchamach, on a working visit to Chile.
This audience was an opportunity to renew the will of the two countries to further promote their bilateral relations based on mutual respect, for an exemplary partnership between two countries sharing the same aspirations, Benchamach told MAP following the meeting.
Morocco is one of the most important partners in the European Union's (EU) neighborhood, said, on Tuesday in Rabat, vice-chair of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Anders Primdahl Vistisen.
Culture & Communication Ministry Follows France24’s Apologies, Examines Its Compliance with Laws in Force
The Ministry of Culture and Communication on Monday followed the apologies presented by France24 news channel in its newscast of 5pm following a letter addressed by Minister of Culture and Communication, Mohamed Laaraj, due to the channel’s airing of images having nothing to do with the treatment of the events of Al Hoceima.
Morocco's net international reserves amounted to 201.5 billion dirhams until July 7, 2017, recording a 16.4 pc year-on-year decrease, Bank Al-Maghrib said.
During the week of July 6-12, Bank Al-Maghrib injected 67.2 billion dirhams.
As for the interbank rate, it remained at 2.33%, while the average trading volume increased from 5.4 billion dirhams one week before to 8.2 billion dirhams, the central bank pointed out in its weekly indicators.
During the same period, the Dirham depreciated by 0.49% against the Euro and appreciated by 0.79% against the dollar.
An international symposium on African Football opened on Tuesday in Skhirate (Rabat outskirts) with the participation of personalities from all over the world, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
The opening ceremony of this event, organized under the patronage of HM King Mohammed VI, was marked by a royal message to the participants, which was read out by Minister of Youth and Sports, Rachid Talbi Alami.
MAP 18 July 2017
Morocco and Zambia share a common vision for the consolidation of peace and stability as well as respect for the sovereignty of states in Africa, said secretary of state to the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mounia Boucetta.
By ICR Newsroom
The Moroccan cement market contracted in June by 30.6 per cent YoY to 721,846t from 1,039,544Mt in June 2016, according to the country’s Ministry of Housing. The drop in sales was attributed to a slowdown in construction activity.
In the first half of 2017, demand decreased 9.24 per cent to 6,771,681t with all parts of country seeing a drop in sales, apart from a few southern provinces.
The largest MoM decline was reported in the eastern region, where sales fell by 39.8 per cent, from 84,668t to 50,972t at the end of June. In Fes-Meknes sales declined 37.65 per cent, or 56,735t sold against 90,996t in the same month of last year. Sales decreased at Drâa-Tafilalet, Tangier-Tétouan-Al-Hoceima, Casablanca-Settat and Marrakech-Safi respectively by 36.13, 35.31, 32.90 and 30.32 per cent. Only the Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra and Dakhla-Oued Eddahab regions were able to recover. In Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra, cement consumption reached a 9.79 per cent increase, ie sales of 19,054t, up from 17,355t in the same month of last year.
Moroccan Africanism is not “conjunctural” or the result of a political strategy, but it is a question of belonging to a very great civilization, André Azoulay, HM King Mohammed VI’s Advisor, said.
“Our Africanism is not conjunctural and is not the result of a political strategy (...), but it is a belonging to a very great civilization”, Azoulay stressed Friday in Marrakech at a conference held on the sidelines of the 4th Al-Haouz Festival under the theme “For Peace and Coexistence”.
BCP Group, IFC Boost Partnership for Economic Development & Social Progress in Morocco & Sub-Saharan Africa
The Banque centrale populaire group (BCP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed, Friday in Casablanca, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to consolidate their long term partnership, reaffirming their full cooperation in the economic development and social progress in Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa.