The moroccan press

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.

More on Morocco’s Efforts to Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Morocco on the move - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 15:00

Caitlin Dearing Scott
September 22, 2017

Caitlin Dearing Scott, SVP, Research, Programs, and Policy, MAC

Over the past week, Morocco has undertaken a number of initiatives to advance regional and global cooperation on countering terrorism and violent extremism. From deepening intelligence cooperation with European countries to analyzing the roots of radicalization in coordination with the United States, these latest initiatives underscore once again the country’s leadership in confronting one of today’s most pressing challenges. Here is a summary of the latest developments.

Expanding Counterterrorism Efforts Abroad. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Abdelhak Khaime, director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (also known as Morocco’s FBI), announced that the government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who become radicalized in Europe, part of an enhanced counterterrorism strategy by a country that is a “key player in the global anti-extremism struggle.” Responding to the threat of second generation Moroccan extremists committing attacks in Europe, Khaime noted that although the youths had no connection to Morocco beyond their family origin, “Morocco’s government now must adopt another method just to control the return of those people and keep a watch on them, try and gather intelligence on them.” Without providing specifics, Khaime emphasized the “importance of intelligence cooperation across borders, and said his agency is working on establishing offices in partner countries.” Morocco already works closely with partners in Europe, playing an instrumental role in helping French police identify the suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks and working closing with Spanish authorities after the most recent attack in Barcelona. This announced expansion seems to be an effort to further institutionalize those partnerships.

Leadership of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. On September 20, the Kingdom was reelected as the co-chair, along with the Netherlands, of the Global Counterterrorism Forum at the organization’s 8th Ministerial Plenary Meeting, extending its mandate for an additional two years. Speaking after the reelection, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita noted, “The vote to reelect Morocco as the leader of this body is an eloquent testimony to the confidence that the international community attaches to the Moroccan approach, developed in accordance with the high guidelines of King Mohammed VI, to fight terrorism. It is also a recognition of the valuable and often decisive contribution of Morocco in the fight against terrorism.”

New Initiative with the US to Address Homegrown Violent Extremists. Also at the GCTF’s annual meetings, Morocco and the United States announced a new initiative to “address the growing threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh-inspired and linked Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs), exploring ways for stakeholders to tackle these issues in a coordinated manner.” According to the State Department, The Initiative to Address Homegrown Violent Extremists, implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), “will develop new Good Practices on this issue with a focus on highlighting practical steps governments and practitioners can take to detect, intervene and address HVEs.” The initiative will also “explore factors that are driving individuals to become HVEs, how these individuals can be better identified, highlight any differences in the HVE radicalization process from that of FTFs, promote interventions to dissuade or prevent individuals from becoming HVEs, and identify opportunities for stakeholders to coordinate and collaborate more effectively to prevent, detect, intervene, and respond.”

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Categories: The moroccan press

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.

In Speech to United Nations, Morocco Prioritizes Africa, Calls for Realistic Resolution of the Sahara

Morocco on the move - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 20:41

Washington, DC, September 21, 2017 (MACP) – Speaking at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita hailed Morocco’s return to the African Union as a crowning achievement of King Mohammed VI’s vision and underscored Morocco’s commitment to Africa’s future.

“Morocco will continue to shoulder its responsibilities within the African Union, as a founding member of the Organization of African Unity, and as a committed, dynamic and active partner who has always defended its causes and concerns in international and regional organizations,” said Minister Bourita.

Minister Bourita emphasized the importance of viewing Africa as a partner and not a burden, echoing the words of King Mohammed VI that “Morocco does not view Africa as a market for the sale and promotion of Moroccan products, or as a continent for making quick profit. We see Africa as a forum for joint action, for promoting development in the region, and for serving African citizens.”

He confirmed South-South cooperation as a major pillar of Morocco’s foreign policy vision, which includes partnerships on development, economic integration, wealth creation, and employment as part of a dynamic to ensure food security and strengthen human development. Morocco continues to engage in discussions on reform within the African Union to find solutions to these challenges in the spirit of realism and compromise.

Such cooperation will be imperative to consensus on a political settlement to the Sahara issue based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, said the Minister.

Under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, and with broad bipartisan support in the US Congress, US policy has continued to support resolving the conflict based on such a formula. Both Congress and the Bush and Obama administrations have also repeatedly called Morocco’s Autonomy Initiative “serious, realistic, and credible.” The most recent UN Secretary General report and Security Council resolution also called for its examination as a framework for discussion.

Reiterating Morocco’s willingness to work with the United Nations to that effect, Minister Bourita called on the “other parties to this regional conflict to assume their responsibilities” and “seriously and constructively become engaged in the political process under the aegis of the United Nations.”

He recalled ongoing efforts to revitalize the economic and social development of Morocco’s southern provinces. The program to implement regionalization, to enable inhabitants of the Sahara to manage their own affairs in a democratic and stable framework, is also underway.

These efforts contrast sharply with the situation faced by the refugees sequestrated by the Polisario in the Tindouf camps. Minister Bourita called on the international community to pressure Algeria, the host country to meet its international commitments and to allow UNHCR to register the camp populations in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

“The Foreign Minister’s remarks at UNGA remind us that for more than 10 years the UN has called on Morocco and the Polisario Front to reach a negotiated settlement. Morocco responded to that call with its 2007 compromise solution recognized by the international community as serious, credible, and realistic,” said former US Ambassador Edward M. Gabriel. “It’s time to move on that compromise.”

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 ContactJordan Paul, 202.587.0855

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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Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco and the United States to Launch New Counterterrorism Initiative

Morocco on the move - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 19:06

Washington, DC, September 21, 2017 (MACP) – In a fact sheet issued yesterday, the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) announced that the United States will launch a new initiative with Morocco, “The Initiative to Address Homegrown Violent Extremists,” to be implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ).

The Initiative will “[address] the growing threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh-inspired and linked Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs), exploring ways for stakeholders to tackle these issues in a coordinated manner.”

It will also “explore factors that are driving individuals to become HVEs, how these individuals can be better identified, highlight any differences in the HVE radicalization process from that of FTFs [Foreign Terrorist Fighters], promote interventions to dissuade or prevent individuals from becoming HVEs, and identify opportunities for stakeholders to coordinate and collaborate more effectively to prevent, detect, intervene, and respond.”

The aim of the new Initiative is to develop a set of new “Good Practices” that will serve as a companion to the GCTF document The Hague-Marrakech Memorandum on Good Practices for a More Effective Response to the FTF Phenomenon. The Hague-Marrakech Memorandum was established following an initiative by Morocco and the Netherlands to create the FTF Working Group within the platform of the GCTF. Morocco currently serves as a Co-Chair to both the GCTF and the FTF Working Group alongside the Netherlands.

Morocco is committed to promoting regional security and cooperates closely on counterterrorism and other security efforts with the US and countries throughout Europe and the Middle East, and, along with the Netherlands, was re-elected yesterday to an additional two year term as GCTF Co-Chair. Remarking on the re-election, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita said it was “an eloquent testimony to the confidence of the international community in the Moroccan approach, developed in accordance with the highest guidelines of King Mohammed VI, to fight against terrorism.”

Morocco is also at the forefront of efforts to counter the appeal of violent extremism within its own borders. A recent report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy concluded that “US, European, and Moroccan experts should seek to draw lessons from Morocco’s overarching success at preventing jihadist terrorism at home.”

 “Morocco has long been a leader in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism and a key ally of the US in addressing these issues in Africa and the Middle East,” said former US Ambassador Edward M. Gabriel. “This latest initiative is further testament that Morocco is committed to working with the US and other partners to confront one of today’s most pressing challenges.”

For more on Morocco’s approach to countering violent extremism, see our factsheet

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Contact: Jordan Paul, 202.587.0855

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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Categories: The moroccan press

Showing How It’s Done: Morocco Leads Developing Countries on Sustainable Development Efforts

Morocco on the move - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 18:00

Kristen Kouttab
September 21, 2017

Morocco has a proven track record of finding green solutions to its energy needs and development goals. The country continues to demonstrate that it is still a climate change champion, and its efforts have been widely recognized. According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, Morocco is “at the forefront of a renewable revolution,” and in Germanwatch’s 2017 Climate Change Performance Index, Morocco placed 8th worldwide, and led the developing world by a wide margin.

At the same time, Morocco has also made clear its commitment to Africa and has made a special effort to focus international attention on addressing development and sustainability issues in developing countries, as well as to push for South-South cooperation in tackling these needs.

As these efforts continue to intertwine, Morocco is a natural location to host conferences focused on sustainable development and renewable energy in emerging economies.

After hosting last year’s 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) – where King Mohammed VI led a side session for African leaders – Morocco maintains its strong involvement. From September 11-13, 2017, the city of Agadir hosted the 2nd annual Climate Chance Summit, when more than 2,000 non-state actors from nearly 80 countries convened to discuss their role in supporting state-level commitments to combat climate change. And this week, on September 19, Morocco organized a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to discuss South-South collaboration to address climate change and strengthen cooperation on commitments made during COP22.

The 2017 Hotelier Summit (North Africa) in Casablanca from October 4-6 will focus on sustainability in the real estate and hospitality industry, with a vision “to develop Africa in such a manner that every African has access to affordable housing and Morocco’s Africa is looked up to as the most progressive regions of growth in the global real estate map.” Morocco’s Green Building Council will serve as the Official Sustainability Partner of the Summit.

Also in Casablanca is this year’s Africa Renewable Energy Forum, which will gather the public and private sector from November 29-December 1 to “explore practical solutions on clean project financing, climate-smart solutions, and innovative community-owned projects” across the African continent in the context of COP22 commitments.

The 7th Digital Earth Summit (DES-2018) will convene April 17-19, 2018 in El Jadida, bringing together scientists and professionals from the African and international community under the theme of “Digital Earth for Sustainable Development in Africa.” It will be the first time an African country has hosted the summit.

Among developed and developing countries alike, strong leadership will be needed to address climate change and meet energy needs through sustainable development. Morocco is showing how it’s done.

 

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Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco's GCTF Presidency Renewed Two Years

The moroccan press - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:56

Morocco and the Netherlands were re-selected to assume the presidency of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) for another two-year mandate, on the occasion of the body's 8th ministerial meeting, held Wednesday in New York.

"The current mandate will end late 2017 and the member states asked Morocco and the Netherlands to continue chairing this important body until 2020," said in a statement to the press foreign minister Nasser Bourita, who co-chaired this meeting with his Dutch peer Bert Koenders.

Categories: The moroccan press

Climate Change: Morocco Convenes Meeting in New York on South-South Cooperation

The moroccan press - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:32

Morocco convened on Tuesday in New York a meeting on South-South cooperation with the objective of further strengthening this cooperation in line with the commitments made at COP22 in Marrakech.

The meeting was jointly organized with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and was attended by several public and non-state actors, regional and international organizations and representatives of the private sector and of developing countries.

Categories: The moroccan press

FM: Morocco’s Return to AU Mirrors HM the King’s Insightful Vision

The moroccan press - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:18

Morocco's return to the African Union (AU), its institutional family, is the crowning achievement of a strategic path backed by an insightful royal vision, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, said Wednesday.

Categories: The moroccan press

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.

Business Brief: Morocco Challenged to Build Human Capital Assets; Domestic Banking Sector Growing Stronger

Morocco on the move - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:00

Jean R. AbiNaderMATIC
September 21, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

On the heels of the recent World Bank report and workshop in Morocco on the need for increased investment in inclusive human capital development, two articles echoed the recommendations. Good news is that the domestic banking sector continues to grow and serve more customers.

Focus on Morocco’s need to build its human resources. Despite the fact that Morocco’s human capital is one of the Kingdom’s key attractions to potential investors, realities beyond the manufacturing and enterprise zones in the country remain challenging in terms of both employment and quality of life. The World Economic Forum’s recently released Human Capital Index ranks Morocco 118th out of 130 countries, with special attention focused on youth unemployment.

The Index measures how well countries perform compared to their potential based on four indicators: capacity, capacity development, development, and know-how. “The country ranks 88th in the 15-24 age group and 78th in the 25-54 age group. It occupies the 121st position in terms of deploying the capacities of its human capital. As for infrastructure development, it is ranked at the 99th place with a score of 53.9. In addition, the Kingdom is ranked 108th in terms of the know-how of its human capital. The score of each country in the ranking is obtained by analyzing several factors, such as the volume of the labor force, the GDP per capita, and the public expenditure allocated to education or the unemployment rate.”

What this means, according to the analysis, is that Morocco is developing only 56% of its talent, while 44% are either marginalized or not enrolled in relevant programs or working in productive sectors. It is no surprise that Morocco’s agricultural sector, which represents up to 40% of the workforce, is largely informal, seasonal, and lacks pathways for workers to acquire skills and build businesses. And Morocco is not alone. Among Arab and African countries, there is a consistent trend that despite government efforts to close the gap, youth, in particular, lack the educational, technical, and vocational training that would enable them to pursue higher value employment.

“The development of human capital, through education, skills development, and deployment in the service of economic development, is considered to be the key factor, even more so than financial capital, in linking innovation, competitiveness, and growth to 21st century,” according to the Index.

Morocco has allocated and attracted from donors millions of dollars to invest in human capital development. It has made great strides in the industrial sector, creating more than 200,000 jobs in the past five years, on track to hit 500,000 by 2020. Minister of National Education Mohamed Hassad recently announced a series of measures to generate more value from the more than $6 billion spent annually on education. Among the steps he mentioned are increasing the number of teachers, improving infrastructure, introducing a broader range of vocational/technical skills classes, reducing class size, and clarifying the teaching of foreign languages.

On a related topic, an article on LesEco asked if Morocco was constrained in its capacity to achieve stronger economic growth by its dependence on agriculture, rising unemployment, and the general public mood of declining prosperity. It points out that “7.3% annual growth is the performance that Morocco will have to achieve in order to win its ticket to the club of emerging countries.”

According to the Moroccan Center of Conjuncture (CMC), this rate is achievable if Morocco accelerates its reforms, extends them to other sectors “with high added value and job creation” potential. “Significant progress is still needed to better structure, modernize, and make the national economy more competitive,” said Habib El Malki, the Center’s chair. “This can only be achieved if certain obstacles are removed. The most important are the dependence of the Moroccan economy on the agricultural sector, the profound imbalances characterizing the labor market, public finance, foreign trade, and the weight of the informal sector.”

Central Bank looks at domestic progress. Latest figures from the Bank Al-Maghrib, released during the World Forum on Financial Inclusion Policies (GPF), indicate that the rate of banking exceeds 70% in Morocco, one of the best in the MENA region. This represents a phenomenal increase over the lower-than-25% figure 10 years ago.

According to Abdellatif Jouahri, governor of the central bank, this results from the bank’s commitment to financial inclusion to support the country’s economic development in the financial sector and beyond. Jouahri told the Forum that a strong domestic banking system develops capital markets, providing investment funding and positioning the Kingdom as a regional financial hub.

The post Business Brief: Morocco Challenged to Build Human Capital Assets; Domestic Banking Sector Growing Stronger appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

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.

Morocco Will Take All Measures To Secure Road To West Africa

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:43

The North Africa Post

Morocco gave strong guarantees that it will not allow any breach of the security of the road linking it to West African states and that it ensures that road safety is respected.

Speaking in response to fallacious information spread by Algerian co-opted media, Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said in New York that the Kingdom will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of commercial traffic on the road linking Morocco to the Sahel.

Moroccan media quoted the Minister saying that Morocco is ready to bring logistical and security aid to G5 Sahel states (Mauritania, Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad) in their efforts to secure their borders.

The Minister also welcomed the creation of the G5 force as a milestone in security cooperation in the region, and urged the international community to bring support to the Sahel counter terrorism force.

Morocco, in its quality as Chair of the peace building committee, also deplored the surge of violence in the Central African Republic and called for boosting the capacities of the MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR.

“Armed groups cannot hijack the whole political process,” Morocco’s foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said at a high-level meeting on the situation in CAR, held on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly.

Bourita warned of the risks embedded in the ethnic and religious character of the violence in the region of Bangassou, which was until recently a symbol of tolerance and coexistence in the country.

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.

Ghana-Morocco Double Tax Agreement To Come Into Force In 2018 – (Part 2)

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 01:55

Graphic Online Gh
George Kwatia

In our last publication, we discussed the signing of the Ghana-Morocco Double Tax Agreement (“DTA”) and the provisions of the DTA in relation to the taxation of permanent establishments and business income.

In the concluding part of the article, we will discuss the taxation of investment, employment and service incomes as well as other considerations under the DTA.

Taxation of investment income

Where a Moroccan company pays dividends to a tax resident company of Ghana, which is the beneficial owner of at least 10 per cent of the capital of the Moroccan company, the maximum dividend tax rate in Morocco is five per cent of the dividend received.

In any other cases, a tax of 10 per cent applies on the dividend paid by a Moroccan company to a tax resident persons of Ghana.

The dividend withholding taxes of five per cent or 10 per cent do not apply where the beneficial owner of the dividends is a Ghanaian resident entity which carries on business through a PE in Morocco.

Additionally, if the beneficial owner of the dividend performs independent personal services from a fixed base situated in Morocco, and the Moroccan company is effectively connected with such a PE, then this dividend tax will not apply.

Other than interest specified as exempt from tax in the DTA, interest income received by a Ghanaian tax resident person from a Moroccan tax resident entity may be taxed in Morocco at a maximum rate of 10 per cent.

In Ghana, however, interest payments are taxed at eight per cent meaning that the foreign tax credit received may only be relieved in Ghana up to eight per cent, leaving the Ghanaian lender with unrelieved Moroccan tax on interest income of two per cent.

Unless the qualifying conditions in the DTA are met, the tax rates on interest do not apply to interest accrued by a PE of a Ghanaian resident entity situated in Morocco, or from independent personal services from a fixed base situated in Morocco.

For royalty payments by a Moroccan tax resident to a Ghanaian tax resident, tax of 10 per cent may be deducted in Morocco.

The reduced rate of 10 per cent does not, however, apply where the beneficial owner of the royalties is a resident of Ghana and carries on business in Morocco via a PE situated in Morocco, or performs independent personal services from a fixed base situated in Morocco.

Capital gains realised from the alienation of immovable or movable property of a Ghanaian resident person situated in Morocco, whether owned directly or through a PE may be taxable in Morocco as per the conditions specified in the DTA.

However, capital gains from the alienation of ships or aircrafts operated in international traffic or movable property pertaining to the operation of ships or aircrafts are taxable in the place of effective management of the enterprise.

Capital stock

Gains from the alienation of shares, capital stock of a company, or of an interest in a partnership, trust or estate, the property of which consists directly or indirectly principally of immovable property situated in a country may be taxable in that country.

Gains from the alienation of any property not stated are taxable only in the country that the alienator is tax resident.

Taxation of employment income and other types of service incomes

Income derived by a Ghanaian resident from professional services or other services of an independent character shall be taxable only in Ghana. If the Ghanaian resident person has a fixed place available in Morocco where these services are performed, then the income attributable to this fixed base in Morocco may be taxable in Morocco.

Similarly, if a Ghanaian resident individual exercises employment in Morocco, income from this employment may be taxed in Morocco.

For the income to be taxable in Ghana, the Ghanaian resident individual should spend less than 183 days in aggregate in Morocco and the cost of employment should not be borne by either a Moroccan resident employer or a P.E. in Morocco.

Fees paid to a Ghanaian resident as a director of a board of Moroccan company may be taxed in Morocco. Similarly, the remuneration of top-level managerial officials of a Moroccan company who are residents of Ghana are taxable in Morocco.

Income earned by an independent professional service such as an entertainer and a sportsman from their personal activities either Ghana or Morocco is taxable in either of both countries depending on where the activities are exercised.

The above notwithstanding, income earned from such personal activities within the framework of cultural or sports exchanges agreed by both governments and carried out for non-profit making purposes are exempt from tax in both countries.

Finally, pensions or life annuities paid by a Moroccan social security scheme to a Ghanaian tax resident shall be taxable only in Ghana and vice versa. Despite this, pension payments are currently exempt from taxes in Ghana.

Morocco To Expand Counter Terror Efforts Abroad

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:15

abc News
By Angela Charlton, Associated Press

The director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations Abdelhak Khiame gestures during an interview with The Associated Press at his headquarters in Sale near Rabat, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Khiame says his government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who radicalize in Europe, as part of beefed-up counterterrorism efforts by a country that is both a key player in the global anti-extremism struggle and a source of international jihadis. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

A top Moroccan security official says his government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who become radicalized in Europe, part of beefed-up counterterrorism efforts by a country that is both a key player in the global anti-extremism struggle and a source of international jihadis.

Preventing radicalization of Moroccans abroad is especially important after Spanish extremists with Moroccan origins carried out last month’s deadly Barcelona attacks, Abdelhak Khiame, director of an agency known as Morocco’s FBI, told The Associated Press in an interview.

“Really I was frightened by what we saw happen in Barcelona. They were all youths of Moroccan origin, their parents were Moroccan but they themselves had no connection to Morocco other than their origin and their family,” Khiame said Tuesday in his polished headquarters in Sale, near the capital, Rabat.

“Morocco’s government now must adopt another method just to control the return of those people and keep a watch on them, try and gather intelligence on them,” he added.

He would not elaborate on what surveillance measures that monitoring strategy would entail, but insisted on the importance of intelligence cooperation across borders, and said his agency is working on establishing offices in partner countries.

His agency, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, is also cracking down on Moroccans returning from fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria, Iraq and Libya. It has arrested 85 men, 14 women and 27 children returnees to date, he said.

Moroccans make up an unusually large subset of IS foreign fighters — a total of 1,664 people at the agency’s last count. While larger numbers came from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, experts say Moroccans play a sizeable role among the thousands of foreign fighters in the extremist group. So do dual Moroccan-European citizens, who were notably behind IS attacks on Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.

Khiame’s agency, created two years ago to consolidate and strengthen anti-terrorism and anti-crime efforts, says it has dismantled 42 Islamic State cells and five others.

Rights groups warn that counterterrorism authorities are being overzealous and have caught up innocent bystanders in the dragnet. Thomas Galley, a Frenchman serving prison time on a terrorism financing conviction based on a confession in Arabic that he says he didn’t make and can’t understand, is among those that Human Rights Watch says is being unfairly held. Khiame insisted that the government has proof of his extremist activities.

Beyond jail and prosecution, Khiame said the government recognizes the need to solve the roots of radicalism through tackling poverty, training moderate imams and banning extremist preachers, and re-integrating former radicals.

He warned of a risk of “reverse terrorism,” or Moroccan emigrants who become radicalized in Europe then come to Morocco to stage attacks.

He cited the example of a man who embraced extremism while living in Catalonia and who was interrogated by Moroccan authorities after the Barcelona attacks, and found to be plotting violence in Morocco.

Khiame said the man had no link to the Barcelona attacks, which left 16 people dead after a partially failed attempt by a network of teens and other young Spaniards to set off explosions in the area.

Khiame’s agency helped identify the suspects and is working closely with Spain on the investigation.

The agency was also instrumental in helping French police find a leading suspect in the November 2015 attacks on the Bataclan theater, cafes and a stadium in Paris.

Rooting out radicalism is important to preserving Morocco’s reputation as a beacon of stability in a volatile region, and King Mohammed VI speaks out regularly against religious fanaticism.

Experts say Moroccans abroad are especially vulnerable because of the challenges of integration and a tug-of-war between two cultures and identities.

———

Charlton reported from Paris. Andrew Drake in Sale, Morocco and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed.

Business Brief: Morocco Continues to Shine in the Tourism and Hospitality Sectors; Sound Energy Provides More Details on Gas Projects; BMW Brings Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program to Morocco; and Moroccans Win Four Gold Medals in Engineering and...

Morocco on the move - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:00

Jean R. AbiNaderMATIC
September 19, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Morocco expands its tourism and hospitality sector. Hospitality.net began a recent article with the astounding fact that “there are currently 47 projects in the hotel pipeline in the tiny coastal country of Morocco.” While noting obstacles in other African countries, such as lack of infrastructure, qualified staff, and stability, the article points out that Morocco does not suffer from these issues. As it says, “One area where the hotel construction pipeline is becoming healthier is North Africa, specifically in the long-time tourism destination that is Morocco.”

Referring to the TOPHOTELPROJECTS database, the article lists Casablanca and Marrakech as two top destinations, “Both of which have roots that date back to empires in medieval times. In addition to this history, Morocco also features a French colonial legacy that gives it a fascinating mix of architecture, one that blends Moorish styles with European art deco. The coast is also part of the reason that Morocco has been a famous landing spot for tourists over the years, with Casablanca featuring buildings that extend out over the water.”

Of specific mention was the Marina Resort Chbika, a mega-tourism development to be completed in 2Q 2020 with 2,500 new rooms for guests, three or more hotels, 1800+ villas and apartments, a town center, sports facilities, medical center, world-class golf course, and a marina with berths for 100 boats. Chbika is on the AtlanticCoast, near Tan-Tan, which annually hosts one of the most storied cultural and music festivals.

JW Marriott has its crown jewel set to open in 1Q 2020 in Casablanca on the New Marina. Using a very modern design, similar to facades in Dubai, it will mark Marriott’s entry into the high-end tourism sector in Morocco.

When discussing special tourist destinations, one near Marrakech is drawing increased international attention because it is home to the annual Oasis Festival of contemporary music. The founder of the festival, Marjana Jaidi, “Wanted to create a destination festival that utilized the best aspects of events she’d covered in New York and across the United States.” Hosted at the Source Hotel in the Atlas Mountains, seven miles outside of downtown Marrakech, it features some of Europe’s top DJs and artists. Attendees can enjoy the music poolside or partake of morning yoga and henna tattoos while local vendors “provide Moroccan cuisine including traditional street food, fresh produce and sfinge, a unique regional donut.”

Jaidi says that her idea to create a destination music festival grew out of her roots in New York. “I’m half Moroccan, and I’ve spent every summer of my life there, so the original idea was always to do a festival in Morocco…Oasis’s tagline is ’dance somewhere different.’ Part of our mission is to attract people to Morocco that may not have otherwise considered traveling there.”

She chose Marrakech because it’s a fresh, exotic destination that makes for an exciting change from what’s already out there, in terms of festival destinations. There’s a lot of history and culture there, so for people coming from abroad, it gives them something worthwhile to explore, outside the festival. An important aspect of our concept is to represent the culture of Morocco in our programming. Morocco isn’t just a location for us, it’s the heart and soul of the festival, and we’re lucky to have such a rich and exciting culture to draw from. This is reflected in everything from the food and decor to programming like henna body art…”

Sound Energy is bullish on Morocco. Despite its recent setback in its gas exploration in Italy, the CEO of Sound Energy, James Parsons, insisted that its efforts in Morocco would continue as an “absolute priority. It is important to put this into context; having long shifted the axis of our activities to play-opening work in Eastern Morocco, Sound continues to rapidly build a Moroccan exploration-focused onshore gas business hinged on strong European gas fundamentals, a strategic partnership with Schlumberger and our multi Tcf opportunity set. We are clear in our goals strategically, strong financially, and on the path to firming up the very significant upside on our acreage.”

He said the company’s optimism is based on strong fundamentals, and that “Here the exploration potential is being de-risked by a combination of aerial gradiometry, reprocessed seismic, and 2,644 Km of new 2D seismic which are all underway…We continue steadfast in our belief that the Eastern Morocco TAGI and Paleozoic is a completely new play for our industry and one which will over the next year or two prove both the making of our company and the making of the Moroccan Oil and Gas sector.”

Becoming professional grade. The BMW Foundation recently brought together 45 professionals and leaders of start-ups from the Maghreb, Egypt, Lebanon, Europe, Brazil, and Chile in Morocco for a networking session and workshops on building their leadership capabilities.

The program included guided sessions and discussions on creativity, innovation, new models of leadership, and developing personal growth strategies. Two key themes were knowledge and the IT society in the service of inclusive social and political development. Participants explored the linkage between their own individual development and the importance of building teams.

One of the Moroccan participants, University of Casablanca President Amine Bensaid said that, “being a leader will always consist in ‘asking one’s intentions, why I do what I do,’ while remaining sincere and genuine on his own initiative.” He added, “Is the education system preparing our children for this?”  “Responsible leaders,” said Mr. Bensaid, “are those who will be able to unleash the potential of future leaders.” “Does this apply to the Arab world?” asked the Tunisians, Egyptians, and Moroccans present in the room.

Among the Moroccans invited to this event were former Minister of Tourism Lahcen Haddad, Tarik Nesh Nash and Zineb Mahrez of the startup Code for Morocco, and co-organizers of the BMW event. The practical objective of the forum, beyond intellectual exchanges and the design of appropriate management solutions, remains to promote regional and international networking.

Good news for Moroccan companies. Morocco and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) reached an agreement in Rabat to implement the “Easy Export” pilot project, including simplifying export procedures for very small, small, and medium-sized Moroccan enterprises (TMEE). “The ‘Easy Export’ program was launched by the UPU to provide assistance to member countries for the promotion and development of TMEE in the wider context of socio-economic development through postal networks.” Morocco will also join “Ecom@Africa”, a UPU project on the creation of a regional e-commerce platform, under the management of Barid Al-Maghrib Group.

A very successful year for Moroccan engineers. In the most recent iteration of the International Innovation Fair, held in Bangalore, India, Moroccans from the Moroccan School of Engineering Sciences (EMSI) won 12 international awards including four gold medals. Through its SMARTiLab, EMSI received its awards for Senstenna, a 5th generation communications system; Sensorless, which uses radio frequency waves to detect different types of physical quantities without the need for a specific sensor; EMFA, a new electromagnetic absorbent that protects human skin from the harmful effects of ionization and the thermal effect; and the Multiview Screen that allows for simultaneous viewing of multiple videos at different angles, as well as a photovoltaic plate protection system that protects against particles that can decrease the effectiveness of the plates.

The post Business Brief: Morocco Continues to Shine in the Tourism and Hospitality Sectors; Sound Energy Provides More Details on Gas Projects; BMW Brings Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program to Morocco; and Moroccans Win Four Gold Medals in Engineering and Technology Competition in India appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

FM Stresses Pressing Need For International Cooperation To Defeat Terrorism

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 09:00

All Africa
Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)

Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita stressed, on Wednesday in New York, the pressing need for cooperation within governments and at the international level to defeat terrorism and violent extremism.

“Each dismantled cell and thwarted terrorist attack is further proof that cooperation within governments and at the international level is not just an option, but a strong imperative in our quest to defeat terrorism and violent extremism,” said Bourita at the 8th ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands.

“It is essential that we persist in our joint mobilization and continue to stand together in a spirit of unity and solidarity,” he said.

“We cannot emphasize more on the fact that this global menace requires a global response, and absolutely no country can claim ability to cope alone with the manifestations of terrorism,” he said, noting that this global menace requires a global response, and absolutely no country can claim ability to cope alone with the manifestations of terrorism.

Bourita underlined that “we must also fully engage all relevant stakeholders – government services, non-governmental organizations, civil society, media, the private sector, Internet providers, etc… – along the lines of a “whole of society” approach.”

He added that the primary objective remains to support and revitalize the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as GCTF’s good practices and recommendations.

“In this context, we welcome the reform of the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture and the establishment of the United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism,” he said.

“In addition, and in line with the inclusive approach advocated by the GCTF, we have decided to expand the geographical scope of its two Regional Working Groups, which will now work to strengthen and develop capacities in East and West Africa regions,” the minister noted.

“Our decision emanated from the observation of the alarmingly developing terrorist threats in Africa and the attempts from existing and resurgent terrorist groups to link up across these regions,” he explained.

“We cannot and should not turn a blind eye on this alarming trend and allow for the promising development efforts of African countries to be challenged by the spread of terrorism, and the GCTF should fully contribute to reinforcing the capacities in the continent,” he underlined.

Morocco and the Netherlands were re-selected to assume the presidency of the Global Counterterrorism Forum for another two-year mandate.

Among the decisions taken during this meeting is the launch of a series of initiatives under the GCTF, including the initiative related to handling local violent extremists, run jointly by Morocco and the USA.

The meeting was attended by foreign ministers or representatives of member states as Spain, UK, Turkey, USA, France, Canada, Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, KSA, Jordan, India, Indonesia, as well as UN representatives.

The GCTF is an informal, apolitical, multilateral counter-terrorism platform that was launched officially in New York in 2011, with the aim of strengthening capabilities in order to develop a strategic, long-term approach to counter terrorism and prevent the violent extremist ideologies that underpin it.

Skhirat Agreement Remains ‘Inescapable Reference Point’ To Stabilize Libya – UN Special Envoy

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 08:45

All Africa
Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)

For the United Nations, the UN-brokered agreement signed by Libyan parties in the Moroccan city of Skhirat in December 2015 remains the “inescapable reference point” to stabilize Libya, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé, said Tuesday in New York.

“Morocco has made a very positive contribution to the signing of the Skhirat agreement, which for us remains the inescapable reference point for progress,” Salamé told reporters following a meeting with Morocco’s minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly.

The UN official said he thanked Bourita “for the Moroccan contribution” to the Libyan political agreement, saying he is “grateful to the Kingdom” for all the support it will provide to a mediation that will be led by the United Nations.

The UN Special Representative said that he has “agreed with our Moroccan friends that the 2015 agreement needs some small adjustments, but certainly not a replacement.”

Technical meetings will take place as of September 26 between the experts of the two Libyan assemblies to “draft together (…) some amendments”, he announced.

Earlier in the day, Bourita met with Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala, who expressed his country’s appreciation for Morocco’s support to improve the situation in Libya.

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