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Tony Blair – I Am “Particularly Happy for HM the King”

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 01:33

All Africa

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday in New York that he was “particularly happy for HM King Mohammed VI”, who was honoured with the Global Hope Coalition Special Recognition Award for promoting tolerance and cross-cultural rapprochement.

“I am particularly happy for HM the King who deserves the Special Recognition Leadership Award for promoting tolerance and cross-cultural rapprochement,” Blair told MAP.

The Global Hope Coalition awarded on Monday the Special Recognition Award for Leadership in the promotion of tolerance and cross-cultural rapprochement to HM King Mohammed VI “for the visionary leadership of the Sovereign in promoting harmony between different cultures both in Morocco and on the international scene”.

HRH Prince Moulay Rachid received this prestigious award on behalf of HM the King at a ceremony held at the New York Public Library and hosted by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and the Leadership Council of the Global Hope Coalition.

The ceremony took place in the presence of several Heads of State and Government, leaders of international organizations, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s ambassador to the US, Joumala Alaoui, and Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, Omar Hilale.

Latvian MFA Invites Morocco To Sign An Agreement On International Road Transport

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 01:20

The Baltic course

Rinkevics noted that Latvia was interested in strengthening the positions of its food producers and wood processing companies on the Moroccan market, since the interests of Latvian companies are to a great extent related to finding trade partners and importers in the region.

The Minister called on Morocco to sign an agreement on international road transport.

The Ministers also shared views on the relationship between Morocco and the European Union.

Rinkevics praised Morocco as a trustworthy partner and a stability factor in addressing the issues such as security and migration. The Minister expressed support for the EU-Morocco long-term partnership and cooperation in the areas of mutual interest. We appreciate Morocco’s return to the African Union, said Rinkevics and noted that the membership of that organization will enable the EU and Morocco to expand their cooperation in the African continent.

Morocco recognized Latvia’s independence on September 24, 1991, and diplomatic relations were established on October 5, 1992. The new Ambassador of Morocco to Latvia, Amina Bouayach, who resides in Stockholm, was accredited on February 7, 2017. The Non-Resident Ambassador of Latvia to Morocco, Imants Liegis, was accredited to Morocco on June 1, 2017.

Morocco’s Attijariwafa Sees Egypt Unit As Major Driver Of Growth

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 17:46

Bloomberg
by Tamim Elyan

Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, expects its recently acquired Egyptian unit to be the company’s major driver of growth in coming years and is planning to expand its operations by adding new branches and hiring staff.

The bank anticipates that the Egyptian operation will contribute 12 percent to 14 percent of its net income in 2018, with revenue expected to grow by 20 percent to 25 percent a year, the most among its foreign units, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview. Attijariwafa plans “significant” branch expansion and hiring in the country, he said.

“In Egypt, everything we saw as a potential is materializing and can grow even faster than we initially thought,” Douiri said in Cairo. The new unit “is not only an important contributor today, but it will also be a major growth driver tomorrow.”

The lender took over Barclays Plc’s Egyptian business earlier this year as part of a wave of African acquisitions that began in 2005 and is intended to offset the limited growth opportunities in Morocco. Attijariwafa now operates in more than 20 countries including Tunisia, Niger, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as France, Germany and Italy.

Even though he’s looking overseas for Attijariwafa’s growth, Douiri said he’s bullish about Morocco’s prospects and that the government’s plan to allow its currency to trade freely “is the right choice.” A free-floating dirham will help integrate the nation’s economy with the rest of the world and attract foreign capital, he said.

The currency plans have been postponed at least twice. Yet Morocco’s economy is in good enough shape for the move, Douiri said.

“The timing is good because we’re at record-high levels of foreign reserves,” he said. “Market participants are all ready but some people, mostly the general public and some small business owners, may have wrong interpretations of what is a very cautious and progressive plan.”

Polisario Leader Denied Entry To Peru

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 15:22

Sahara News
by Ali Haidar

Khadijatou, aka Jadiyetu El-Mokhtar, an international relations officer of the “Union Nationale des Femmes Sahraouies”, an organization affiliated to the Polisario, landed this weekend at Jorge Chavez airport in Lima for a visit to Peru, but the border police denied her entry.

Khadijatou, who presented herself as a so-called ambassador of the pseudo-Sahrawi republic “RASD”, was to be expelled Sunday by the Peruvian police on a flight departing for Spain.

The border police did not reveal any details of the motives of the expulsion of the Sahrawi woman who, according to the website telesurtv.net, is placed on “red alert”, yet Jadiyetou El-Mokhtar holds Spanish nationality and travels with a Spanish passport.

Peruvian lawyer Dante Díaz Wong, who was hired by the Algerian embassy in Lima to defend Jadiyetu El Mokhtar, told telesurtv.net that “they (Peruvian security services) do not allow me to talk to her and refuse to show me the order that prohibits her from entering the country.They also refuse to tell me who is the official who signed this order”.

Officially, Jadiyetu, a native of Dakhla, a town in the extreme south-west of Morocco, was invited to Peru by the “Peru-SADR Parliamentary Friendship League” to participate in a session of the foreign relations committee of the Peruvian Congress.

But according to another well-informed source in the Tindouf camps, Jadiyetu El-Mokhtar was commissioned by the Polisario leadership to go to Lima to sensitize the Andean movements to the Polisario’s separatist claims.

After the serious blows they suffered in Africa in the aftermath of Morocco’s triumphant return to the African Union (AU), Polisario leaders and their Algerian sponsors fear a remake of this Moroccan breakthrough in Latin America. Actually the first sign of this remake was the re-establishment of Morocco’s diplomatic relations with Cuba, a Polisario’s strong ally in Latin America.

Turin Plan To Prevent Cancer In Morocco, Albania, Montenegro

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:56

ANSAmed

Every year in the 15 countries on the shores of the eastern and southern Mediterranean, 19,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 212,000 with breast cancer. Of these, 7,800 die of cervical cancer and 62,200 of breast cancer.

A project, reports the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), is being promoted by the Turin Center for Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention to reduce the death toll from these types of tumors in Albania, Morocco and Montenegro.

The four-year project has a 4.16-million-euro budget and its primary aim will be to strengthen monitoring of women at risk of cancer, helping countries to improve protocols to prevent and fight the disease. The project will also serve to improve healthcare services in the three countries, reducing delays in cancer diagnosis and, as a result, the social costs of treatment. The project also calls for providing information to women about healthier lifestyles, the introduction of HPV testing and vaccinations for it.

Over 45,000 disadvantaged women between the ages of 25 and 65 will be tested for cervical and breast cancer and will be informed of risks and the importance of prevention. The project will also include ad hoc training for over 300 professionals of the healthcare sector in the three countries to learn how to conduct screenings in the best possible way.

The project calls for cooperation between healthcare institutes to improve procedures to for cancer prevention and to draw up strategies specific for the different populations, to improve the health of women in the lower and middle classes through the Mediterranean. The Italian health ministry and Paris’s National Cancer Institute contributed funding to the project. (ANSAmed).

Morocco’s High-Resolution Earth Observation Satellite To Be Launched By Arianespace In November 2017

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:25

spacewatchme.com

Moroccan press sources are reporting that the kingdom’s first high-resolution Earth observation satellite – currently designated as MN35-13 – is being readied for launch on an Arianespace Vega space launch vehicle from Kourou in French Guiana on November 7 or 8, 2017.

The MN35-13 satellite has been built by French-based companies Airbus Defence and Space, who built the bus, and Thales Alenia Space, who manufactured the imaging payload. A second Earth observation satellite for Morocco, and built by the same companies, is scheduled to be ready for launch in 2018.

The Moroccan Earth observation satellite programme has been shrouded in mystery, with a deal between Rabat and Airbus Defece and Space and Thales Alenia Space widely rumoured to have been inked as far back as 2015, but none of the parties officially involved made any public statement.

It is also believed by industry insiders that the two satellites are similar to the birds being developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the United Arab Emirates, known as Falcon Eye. Both pairs of satellites are thought to be upgraded versions of the Pléiades-HR Earth observation satellite that has a resolution of 70cm across a 20 kilometer swath, a storage capacity of 600GB and a downlink data rate of 450MB per second. The Pléiades-HR has an operational lifetime of approximately five years.

It is not known whether the Moroccan versions of the satellites have the same, if not better, payload capabilities, but the UAE Falcon Eye satellites are listed as sharing the Pléiades-HR features.

NASA’s Terra satellite captures a dust storm off of the west coast of Morocco. Image courtesy of NASA.

Morocco’s geographical position and national security situation provides justification for the two Earth observation satellites, as it is situated on the the northwest African coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar, a busy shipping and smuggling route. To the southwest of Morocco is the disputed territory of the Western Sahara, where Moroccan forces have frequently clashed with the Polisario Front. To Morocco’s east is Algeria, a large country that has a deep desert interior and that has continually been in conflict with Islamic extremists that have sought to overthrow the government.

Possessing the ability to autonomously monitor threats on land and at sea long before they manifest themselves as imminent dangers should provide Morocco with an improved security process and the more efficient use of scarce capabilities to deal with those threats.

Original published at : https://spacewatchme.com/2017/09/moroccos-high-resolution-earth-observation-satellite-launched-arianespace-november-2017/

Europe, New Border Of Africa’s ‘Great Desert’ – The Sahara

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 13:42

Reliefweb.int
By Baher Kamal
Report from Inter Press Service

With the highest temperatures on record and unprecedented heat waves hitting Europe this year, Africa’s ‘Great Desert’, the Sahara, is set continue its relentless march on the Southern European countries until it occupies more than 30 per cent of Spain just three decades from now.

The Sahara is the largest hot desert on Earth, covering more than 9,000 square kilometres, comparable to the surface of China or the United States. Called originally in Arabic “Al Sahara Al Kubra’ (the Great Desert), it comprises much of North Africa, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan.

It stretches from the Red Sea in the West and the Mediterranean in the North to the Atlantic Ocean in the West, including 10 countries: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia.

For its part, the European Union’s RECARE project (Preventing and Remediating degradation of soil in Europe through Land Care), estimates that 20 per cent of all Europe’s land surface is already subject to erosion rates above 10,000 hectares per year, while soil sealing (the permanent covering of soil with an impermeable material) leads to the loss of more than 1,000 sq km of productive land each year.

The European Union also reports that between 1990 and 2000, at least 275 hectares of soil were lost per day in the EU, amounting to 1,000 sq km per year. Between 2000 and 2006, the EU average loss increased by 3 per cent, but by 14 per cent in Ireland and Cyprus, and by 15 per cent in Spain.

Africa

Meantime, Africa is prey to a steady process of advancing droughts and desertification, posing one of the most pressing challenges facing the 54 African countries, home to more than 1.2 billion people.

Right now, two-thirds of Africa is already desert or dry-lands. While this land is vital for agriculture and food production, nearly three-fourths of it is estimated to be degraded.

Asia

In a parallel process, desertification manifests itself in many different forms across the vast region of Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations reports. Out of a total land area of 4.3 billion hectares reaching from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Pacific, Asia contains some 1.7 billion hectares of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid land.

Land degradation varies across the region. There are expanding deserts in China, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, encroaching sand dunes in Syria, steeply eroded mountain slopes of Nepal, and deforested and in Laos and overgrazed in central Asia counties. In terms of the number of people affected by desertification and drought, Asia is the most severely affected continent.

In 2015, Asia-Pacific continued to be the world’s most disaster-prone region. Some 160 disasters were reported in the region, accounting for 47 per cent of the world’s 344 disasters.

The region bore the brunt of large-scale catastrophic disasters with over 16,000 fatalities — more than a two-fold increase since 2014. South Asia accounted for a staggering 64 per cent of total global fatalities — the majority was attributed to the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in April, which caused 8,790 deaths.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean are home to some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world, according to the World Resources Institute’s report The Restoration Diagnostic.

The region holds about half of the world’s tropical forests, and more than 30 per cent of its mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians.

But despite the region’s ecological importance, more than 200 million hectares of land has been completely deforested or degraded in the past century, an area the size of Mexico.

Summit in China

These are just some of the facts that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will put before the eyes of world leaders during the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Ordos, China (6 -16 September 2017).

The Convention will also highlight to political leaders, decision makers, experts and civil society organisations participating in COP13 the fact that Africa is severely affected by frequent droughts, which have been particularly severe in recent years in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

And that the consequences are there: widespread poverty, hard socio-economic conditions, and many people dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.

For many African countries, says UNCCD, fighting land degradation and desertification and mitigating the effects of drought are prerequisites for economic growth and social progress.

But not all news is bad news. In fact, increasing sustainable land management (SLM) and building resilience to drought in Africa can have profound positive impacts that reach from the local to the global level.

The UNCCD has elaborated ways how to achieve this vital objective thought its Regional Implementation Annex for Africa, which outlines an approach for addressing desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) on the African continent.

Work in Progress

Meanwhile, progress is underway. All African countries are Parties to the UNCCD and most of have developed and submitted National Action Programmes (NAPs). Also in order to facilitate cooperation on issues related to land degradation, African countries have created five Sub-Regional Action Programmes (SRAPs) and a Regional Action Programme (RAP).

The RAPs compose six thematic programme networks (TPNs) that concern integrated water management; agro-forestry; soil conservation; rangeland management; ecological monitoring and early warning systems; new and renewable energy sources and technologies, and sustainable agricultural farming systems.

Since the adoption of the UNCCD’s 10-Year Strategy, the sub-regional entities have begun aligning their action programmes to it, particularly the North, Central and Western African programmes. The other two sub-regions have already benefited from training by the UNCCD on how to align their programmes to the Strategy.

Similar actions to mitigate, halt and prevent the widespread process of advancing droughts and desertification are being implemented in all other impacted regions, and further efforts will be required. Not an easy task for decision-makers in this COP 13 in Ordos, China.

Sound Nears Morocco Pipeline Funding

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 02:34

Upstream online

UK player gets commercial proposal for up to $100 million to finance key facility to develop Tendrara gas field.

UK player Sound Energy is closing in on funding of up to $100 million for a key pipeline set to exploit its Tendrara gas field in Morocco.

The London-listed player has an indicative non-binding commercial proposal from the fund manager of its partner Oil & Gas Investment Fund (OGIF) that could lead to the construction of a 20-inch pipeline.

The proposal from Advisory & Finance Group Investment Bank (AFG) is for between $60 million and $100 million.

Morocco, Nigeria Vow To Cement Bilateral Ties

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 01:36

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari vowed on Monday to further strengthen bilateral relations.

During a phone call between the two leaders, they underlined their will to reinforce bilateral relations in all areas and carry out projects agreed upon during the king’s visit to Abuja, the king’s office said in a statement.

These projects cover many sectors, including agriculture, fertilizer production and security cooperation, the statement added.

As for the joint venture to construct a major gas pipeline, the two sides lauded the tangible achievements made in this strategic project, mainly through regular meetings by joint bodies set up for this purpose, it noted.

In May, Morocco and Nigeria signed agreements to construct a major gas pipeline linking West African countries.

The Gazoduc pipeline project, which will pass through several West African countries and may stretch to Europe, was finalized during the visit of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to Nigeria in December, 2016.

The pipeline will have a positive impact on more than 300 million inhabitants, as it would serve as the basis for a competitive electricity market in all West Africa.

Ratings Of BMCI Bank Morocco Affirmed

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 13:02

CPI FINANCIAL
by Georgina Enzer

Capital Intelligence Ratings (CI Ratings or CI), the international credit rating agency, has affirmed the ratings of Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BMCI), based in Casablanca, Morocco.

The Financial Strength Rating (FSR) is affirmed at ‘BBB-’. The rating is supported by a solid level of capitalisation, adequate loan-loss provisioning, and reasonable profitability at the operating level. The rating is constrained by a high level of non-performing loans (NPLs), modest returns, and a mixed liquidity profile, specifically the high loans to customer deposits ratio. BMCI’s Long- and Short-Term Foreign Currency Ratings (FCRs) are maintained at ‘BBB-’ and ‘A3’, respectively. The Outlook for all ratings remains ‘Stable’. Downward pressure on the ratings could occur if asset quality (rise in NPLs and/or lower coverage) and or liquidity weakened further. The Support Rating of ‘2’ is affirmed, reflecting the support and strength of BNP Paribas (BNPP).

BMCI is majority owned by the French banking Group BNPP and has a reasonable banking position in the Moroccan banking sector. It is the fifth largest bank in the country, controlling around six per cent of assets. Although considerably smaller than the large domestic banks such as Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Populaire and BMCE Bank, BMCI has a solid position in the corporate and retail sectors. The Bank receives operational, risk and executive management support from the BNPP and looks to exploit synergies with the parent bank, particularly in product offering.

The year 2016 was a challenging year for BMCI. Both gross income and operating profit fell due to continued weak loan and asset growth, and in turn lower net and non-interest income. The economy and the credit environment remained difficult in 2016. Despite a lower cost of risk, net profit and returns fell. The return on average assets (ROAA) is at a weak level. The NPL ratio remains high and asset quality continues to cause some pressure but it should be noted that the French-owned banks in Morocco are more conservative in their classification. Provision coverage is adequate.

Loan-based liquidity ratios are tight, particularly loans to customer deposits. The customer deposit market in Morocco remains very challenging and competitive, with limited growth for some years. Aiding BMCI’s overall liquidity position is its good capital adequacy level and majority ownership by BNPP. CI Ratings believes BNPP has significant resources to support BMCI in case of need, and that the latter remains an important (although very small in the context of BNPP’s overall size and resources) part of its north African and wider African operations.

From 1964 to 1973, BMCI operated as Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie – Afrique, which was part of what is now the BNPP. Incorporated with local capital in 1973, the Bank’s principal shareholder remains BNPP, which holds a 66.74 per cent stake. At end 2016, total assets stood at MAD64.4 billion ($6.3 billion).

Ancient Tradition Of Horsemanship In Morocco

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 01:14

WTOP

MANSOURIA, Morocco (AP) — In Morocco, an ancient tradition of horsemanship survives the test of time.

Thousands gathered recently in Mansouria, a small town south of the capital Rabat, to attend one of the oldest festivals in Morocco. Nineteen horse troupes came from different parts of the kingdom to celebrate a three-day event that blends courage, skill and tradition.

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_67208 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and hold their rifles as other line up for their turn during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. Thousands gathered recently in Mansouria, a small town south of the capital Rabat, to attend one of the oldest festivals in Morocco. Nineteen horse troupes came from different parts of the kingdom to celebrate a three-day event that blends courage, skill and tradition. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_40632 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a horseman waves to the crowd after a successful charge during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

 

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_76418 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and fires their rifles during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

 

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_86700 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, horsemen dress in ceremonial robes before taking part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

 

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_63333 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and hold their rifles before firing, during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. Thousands gathered recently in Mansouria, a small town south of the capital Rabat, to attend one of the oldest festivals in Morocco. Nineteen horse troupes came from different parts of the kingdom to celebrate a three-day event that blends courage, skill and tradition. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_25426 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, people pray in a tent before the start of Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

 

Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_24687 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a horseman is surrounded by gunpowder smoke after a successful charge while taking part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

  • Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_23749 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, horsemen prepare to take part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
  • Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_29156 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a woman cooks couscous for horsemen taking part in Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
  • Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_62413 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, a troupe charges and fire their rifles during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)
  • Morocco_Equine_Tradition_Photo_Gallery_11025 In this Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 photo, crowds gather to attend and judge Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in Mansouria, near Casablanca, Morocco. The banner in Arabic reads “horsemanship is an identity and a path for development”. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

The competitive, synchronized horse riding is known as Tabourida, or La’ab Al-Baroud, “The Game of Powder.” The display mimics and pays tribute to military parades performed by Arab and Berber tribes since the 15th century. It has become an integral display for many festivals across the country. Famed French artist Eugene Delacroix popularized Tabourida on canvas in the 19th century, dubbing it Fantasia, and the name has stuck.

Al-Mahdy Hayzoun, 23, has been riding in his troupe for 12 years, though he couldn’t compete in this year’s festival because of a recent gunpowder injury to his hand. He said Tabourida brings together people from all walks of life.

“There is the poor and the rich, people of different backgrounds,” he said. “But once we’re all on the field, next to each other, we’re all equal, with the same goal.”

Each troupe, or sourba, of 10 to 30 riders is judged on their synchronicity as a group. After lining up at the top of a track, wearing ceremonial robes and with their horses dressed in elaborate bridles and brightly-colored saddles, the lead rider calls out and the troupe races down the field.

After another signal from the leader, or muqadim, the riders brandish their guns and each fires a single shot in unison.

Although competition is fierce, today, there is no prize, and the only judge present is the audience. The more synchronized the display, the louder the cheer from the crowds. It takes skill, talent and a lot of discipline.

It also is an expensive and dangerous sport. Arabian or Berber horses of the highest stock can cost as much as 300,000 Dirhams ($30,000.) Inexperienced riders frequently fall from their horses, and troupes run the risk of hitting a barrier at the end of the track if they are unable to stop their horses in time.

In 2008, the Moroccan government established the Royal Complex for the Equestrian Arts and Tabourida, to preserve the sport and the handicrafts that go with it. They run national competitions for professional troupes with large cash prizes.

In some cases, the job of leading a troupe is passed down through families, while in others the troupe picks the most respected person to lead them.

“We inherited this,” said Khalid Qarqoury, a 43-year-old public worker who leads his sourba, a position his father held before him. “Some do this for a year or two, but when you have the passion, you hold on the rifle for the rest of your life.”

Times Of India Highlights Success Of Morocco’s Three-pronged Counterterrorism Strategy

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 13:18

The North Africa Post

Morocco remains largely the most insulated country from terrorist attacks in the region thanks to a three-pronged strategy that combines security measures with promoting moderate religious discourse and fighting poverty, underscored the Times of India.

In an opinion article entitled “Get Facts Right: Morocco is a shining example of how to counter radicalisation and terrorism,” Rudroneel Ghosh discarded the aspersions spread in some Western media in the aftermath of the Barcelona terrorist attacks trying desperately to link Morocco with terrorism.

“To insinuate that Morocco itself is a hotbed of terrorism is plain rubbish,” he said, noting that such extrapolation is discredited on the ground by Morocco’s “praiseworthy record” in fighting Islamic radicalisation at home through a multilayered strategy.

Ghosh highlighted the efficiency of Morocco’s security services, which adopt a proactive approach further bolstered by intelligence sharing with other countries.

“Morocco is a pioneer in promoting the moderate tenets of genuine Islam to counter the influence of radical religious thought,” he made it clear, pointing out to Morocco’s Imam training program.

Morocco has also attached utmost importance to stemming the breeding grounds causing radicalisation and extremism through fighting poverty, he wrote.

Ghosh added that Morocco is “at the forefront of fighting terrorism in North Africa”, explaining that “attacks in Europe by Moroccan-origin people represent a failing of these European states.”

Therefore, he explained, “to allege that Morocco is producing terrorists is utter nonsense. In fact, if anything, Moroccan society and the Islam practised in Morocco are significant deterrents against extremism and terrorism. A visit to Morocco is enough for anyone to realise how liberal a Muslim nation Morocco is.”

He went on to say that Morocco “is a country where Jews enjoy equal status as their Muslim brethren and where 167 Jewish cemeteries have been carefully restored under the direction of King Mohammed VI. Morocco is a country where within the same family the mother can wear a hijab but her daughter can sport western-style shorts.”

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.

Chatham Rock Phosphate Is Well And Truly Back On The Road

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 11:25

CISION

Chatham Rock Phosphate (NZ: CRP, TSX.V: NZP) (“CRP” or “the Company”) provides a further shareholder briefing. A lot has happened since our last update was published and it’s timely to provide another informal update on recent events.

Events of note include:

Sensible and helpful revisions to the 2013 EEZ Act became law on 1 June 2017. The changes are mainly process related and should help improve the calibre of future decision-making by the Environmental Protection Authority’s new Boards of Enquiry.

The ground-breaking Trans Tasman Resources decision was released on August 10 and the company now holds a granted Marine Consent. While notice of an appeal has been lodged by some lobby groups, the decision stands. We remain confident the decision is robust and has carefully anticipated all of the likely areas of challenge.

CRP presentations to Canadian investors and share-brokers in May and July received a warm welcome in Vancouver and Toronto and we have been invited to return.

Two shipments of rock phosphate from Morocco(but mined in the Western Sahara) were seized in foreign ports highlighting our often-expressed concerns about the security of supply of rock phosphate destined for NZ. The first shipment (destined for New Zealand) remains detained in South Africa and the Moroccan exporters have now withdrawn from the related court action, leaving its ownership uncertain.

The ongoing debate about water quality, fertiliser run off and water royalties continued to highlight the benefits Chatham rock phosphate can bring to our waterways.
Work continues in the Netherlands on plume related research studies co-funded by Chatham, our business partners and by the Netherlands government.

What’s coming up?

Chatham is about to launch various fund-raising initiatives including the likelihood of an offer to our existing ~ 1,500 shareholders. This will enable our legions of Mum and Dad investors to participate once again and will be the eighth such issue offered to our loyal supporters since 2010. Other funding will be sought, probably by means of private placements, in Asia, Europe and Canada.

We will once again be presenting (this time two papers) at the Mecca of the marine mining world, the annual Underwater Mining Conference being held this year in Berlin. Our presence there will dovetail nicely into local fundraising-related activities and a media campaign including Swiss based TV coverage.

And while talking about media, Chatham will be a key topic of an upcoming article in Resource World, a Vancouver based publication that is widely distributed in international mining and investment circles.

Operationally, this month we kick off the marine consent reapplication process with the momentum expected to build over the next 15 months. All going well we are targeting a reapplication date in late 2018.

There is also likely to be an increasing focus on securing marine phosphate opportunities offshore, to an extent depending on evolving permitting regimes in our targeted region. As we have indicated previously we are also interested in on-shore deposits with a preference for reactive-phosphate-rock style mineralisation. Both of these initiatives are likely to involve low upfront costs even if they do proceed and will not divert funding from our principal objective, that of gaining the Marine Consent on our second try.

In parallel with those activities Chatham has commissioned research aimed at separating valuable by-products that are also contained within the sandy seafloor matrix that contains the rock phosphate deposit. As our recovery process is already bringing these sands up to the vessel there is no mining cost involved, merely the costs of separating these by-products from the sand before it is returned to the sea-floor. Successful recovery of even a tiny proportion of these by-products could add significantly to our future revenue and profitability. Chatham is seeking independent funding to assist with this research.

A reminder about our environmental and other benefits.

You can be our advocates whenever our project is raised in conversation. To remind you why the Chatham Rise project remains hugely important for New Zealand, here are the key reasons:

Our rock is a proven reactive phosphate rock. Using it results in much less run-off into waterways and an improved soil profile compared with the effects of manufactured fertilisers.

As such it is an organic fertiliser.

It also contains ultra-low levels of cadmium, a cancer-causing heavy metal with much greater concentrations in other rock phosphate deposits.

Being locally sourced and needing to be applied less frequently results in much lower carbon emissions.

The environmental footprint of seabed extraction is demonstrably smaller than the impact of onshore phosphate on local communities overseas.

The rock is within one day’s sailing distance and supply is far more secure than phosphate rock coming from unstable regions on the other side of the world.

The project economics are attractive and Chathamwill pay significant royalties and income taxes
The project will generate new jobs in environmental monitoring, on the mining ship, in the home port and in the science and agricultural sectors.

The following graphic outlines these and other key benefits. See also our online interactive infographic at http://www.rockphosphate.co.nz/projectinfographic

Neither the Exchange, its Regulation Service Provider (as that term is defined under the policies of the Exchange), or New Zealand Exchange Limited has in any way passed upon the merits of the Transaction and associated transactions, and has neither approved nor disapproved of the contents of this press release.

SOURCE Chatham Rock Phosphate

For further information: Chris Castle, Managing Director, chris@crpl.co.nz or +64 21 55 81 85, skype: phosphateking

US Extends European Travel Alert: ‘Terrorists Focus On Tourist Sites As Attack Targets’

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 02:25

eTurboNews.com
By Chief Assignment Editor

The US has extended a European travel alert for its citizens, warning that terrorists continue to focus on tourist sites as attack targets, and that those traveling to the continent should “exercise additional vigilance” around such areas.

The alert, issued Thursday, cites “widely reported incidents” in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Finland, adding that the State Department “remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks.”

It goes on to state that extremists are continuing to focus on “tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets.

“In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks.”

The alert warns US citizens to “exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations,” adding that terrorists are using a variety of tactics in their attacks, including firearms, explosives, vehicles, and sharp-edged weapons which are “difficult to detect prior to an attack.”

The Thursday alert is an extension of a previous warning issued in May. The current alert is due to expire on November 30, but could be extended once again.

It comes just two weeks after a terrorist attack on a popular tourist street in Barcelona, Spain, killed 14 people and injured 130 others when a driver rammed a van into pedestrians. The driver later fled the scene and killed a 15th victim in order to steal his car and escape.

Nine hours after the Barcelona attack, five terrorists drove into pedestrians in nearby Cambrils, killing one person and injuring six others. All five men were shot and killed by police.

Just one day later, two people were killed and six injured in a knife attack in the Finnish city of Turku, with the attacker reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Details later emerged that the assailant, originally from Morocco, had been denied asylum in Finland.

Europe has endured a number of attacks by foreign terrorists or attackers of migrant background in recent years, including the June attack in the London Bridge area of the British capital, which was launched by a Pakistani-born British citizen, a failed asylum seeker from either Morocco or Libya, and a Moroccan-Italian man.

In July 2016, a Tunisian man with a French residency permit plowed a truck into a group of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing 86 and injuring more than 400 others.

In March 2016, bombings perpetrated by mostly Belgian nationals of Moroccan descent left 32 people dead and more than 300 injured in Brussels.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, acknowledged the threat of terrorists infiltrating the continent alongside genuine refugees, warning last month that they could be “possibly entering Europe under cover as part of the migration movement.”

That statement came as many across the country continue to dispute Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for those fleeing war and persecution, although the leader said earlier this week that she would “make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,” adding that she had no regrets.

However, an April report from Der Spiegel found that thousands of Afghan refugees that had entered Germany admitted during interviews with the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) that they had either had contacts with some radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan or had directly fought for extremists.

That report followed a July 2016 Pew Research poll which found that the majority of Europeans surveyed feared that mass migration into the continent would increase the risk of terrorist attacks.

A 2016 UN report found that there was “no evidence that migration leads to increase terrorist activity,” and warned that “migration policies that are restrictive or that violate human rights may in fact create conditions conducive to terrorism.”

Europe saw more than 1 million asylum seekers arrive to the continent in 2015 alone, as part of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Most of the refugees were from Syria, where a brutal civil war has so far claimed the lives of more than 320,000 people since March 2011, according to UN estimates.

Morocco Sends Two Fire-fighting Planes To Battle Italy’s Wildfires

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 16:04

The North Africa Post

The Moroccan armed forces (FAR) sent two Canadair planes to Italy to extinguish the fire that ravaged so far more than 2000 hectares of forests.

Italy becomes the third country that receives Moroccan aid after Spain and Portugal, which also received Moroccan Canadair flights.

Southern Italy, including Sicily, has been plagued by wildfires this summer due to extremely dry conditions caused by a lack of rainfall.

These fires have created controversy especially after a film went viral depicting a volunteer fire fighter deliberately starting a blaze.

Fifteen volunteer firefighters have been arrested in Sicily on suspicion of starting wildfires and reporting non-existent blazes so they could earn €10 an hour for putting them out.

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.

Leaders Urge Migrant Screening In Africa To Stem Med Crossings

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 12:36

Yahoo7 News
Amica® Sponsored

African and European leaders on Monday backed proposals to screen asylum seekers in Africa as a way to prevent thousands from taking perilous journeys across the Mediterranean.

Hosting the talks in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested setting up “fully safe areas” in Niger and Chad — key transit points for migrants — where asylum-seekers would be processed by the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The leaders signed a roadmap on the proposal, though there were as yet few details on how it might work. A joint mission will be sent to Niger and Chad soon, they said in a statement after the mini-summit.

The seven heads of state or government, who included Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Libya’s political stalemate was a central obstacle to resolving the crisis that has seen nearly 1.5 million people arrive in Europe since 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration.

“As long as the crisis in Libya is not resolved, I don’t think we can find a definitive solution to the issue,” said Chadian President Idriss Deby.

Two competing governments and dozens of armed factions are jostling for power in Libya, which plunged into chaos after the overthrow of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. The north African country is a major transit hub for migrants.

Screening centres in Niger and Chad would help prevent “women and men from taking unwise risks in an extremely dangerous area and then in the Mediterranean” by starting the asylum process closer to home, Macron said, reiterating a proposal he made in July.

Human traffickers as well as arms and drug dealers “have turned the Mediterranean into a cemetery,” he said.

More than 14,000 people, many fleeing conflicts or hardship in Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, have died attempting to reach Europe since 2014.

This year alone, some 125,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean, the vast majority landing in Italy.

UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi welcomed Monday’s developments, but added: “Measures that simply aim at curbing the number of arrivals do not solve the problem of forced migration.

“Any meaningful approach must include a set of strong and determined actions to ensure a lasting peace in conflict-ridden countries as well as social and economic development in places of origin.”

The head of the Libyan unity government Fayez al-Sarraj took part in the talks as well as Merkel, Spanish and Italian prime ministers Mariano Rajoy and Paulo Gentiloni, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou and the European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini.

European states have long sought to cut off clandestine immigration routes into the continent.

A controversial accord with Turkey last year stemmed the huge influx across the Aegean Sea to Greece, but other routes have come back into use, including via Morocco and Spain.

– ‘Living hell’ –

European nations are keen to offer development aid and funding to African countries in return for help in stemming the flow of migrants.

Last month the EU offered 10 million euros ($12 million) in aid to Niger to combat clandestine immigration.

On Monday, the Oxfam and ActionAid charities criticised Europe’s leaders for what they called “fearmongering”, accusing governments of presenting migration “as a threat rather than recognising its benefits”.

“They are playing into the hands of populist fearmongers who falsely claim that Europe is unable to cope with the arrival of people to its shores and who demonise search-and-rescue missions that save lives in the Mediterranean,” they said in a joint statement.

“Their short-term approach ignores the fact that Europe needs migrants,” the statement said, adding: “Italy alone will need an estimated 1.6 million regular migrants over the next decade to sustain its welfare and pension schemes.”

They called on the EU to “stop outsourcing border controls to Libya, trapping more and more people in a living hell” and urged governments not to make aid conditional on border management.

Libya has sought to restrict the work of NGOs operating rescue boats in the Mediterranean that pick up migrants stranded on inflatable dinghies or other unseaworthy crafts.

The groups have been accused of unintentionally encouraging migrants to attempt the crossing as they know they will be rescued in the event of an emergency.

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Spain Imports More From Morocco

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 01:23

Eurofruit
Carl Collen

Figures outlining third-country exports to Spain show Moroccan shipments rose 33 per cent in the first half of 2017.

Spanish imports of fresh fruit and vegetables from third countries grew by 13 per cent in the first half of the year, according to data analysed by Fepex.

According to the organisation, the value of fresh produce imports from third countries came in at €859m for the six-month period, representing 63.45 per cent of Spain’s overall fruit and vegetable imports.

By country, Morocco was by far the most prolific exporter to Spain, shipping €404m in fresh produce to the country, growth of 33 per cent year-on-year.

Costa Rica

Other leading third-country exporters included Brazil, which shipped €55m-worth of produce, a 22 per cent climb on 2016, and Costa Rica, which exported €78m of fresh produce (+18 per cent).

Meanwhile, imports from the EU came to €489m through the half, growth of 8 per cent.

France topped the list of EU exporters to Spain, with €187m of fresh produce sent (+13 per cent), followed by Italy with €81m (+12 per cent), Portugal with €62m (+15 per cent) and the Netherlands with €67m (-8 per cent).

Fepex pointed out that the strongest growth in terms of products came in tomatoes, up 26 per cent to €48m, and potatoes, rising 18 per cent to €159m.

IMF Executive Board Concludes the Ex-Post Evaluation of the Second Precautionary and Liquidity Line Arrangement for Morocco

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 01:05

International Monetary Fund

On August 1, 2017, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Ex Post Evaluation (EPE) of exceptional access under the 2014–16 Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement. (The Executive Board also concluded the second review of Morocco’s economic performance under a program supported by a two-year PLL arrangement—seePress Release No. 17/309).

The PLL facility, which was introduced in 2011, provides financing to meet actual or potential balance of payments needs of countries with sound policies, and is intended to serve as insurance or help resolve crises under wide-ranging situations. Fund policy calls for an EPE within one year of the end of an arrangement with exceptional access.

Executive Board Assessment

Regarding the ex post evaluation of the second (2014–16) PLL arrangement, Directors considered that it effectively supported the authorities’ reform program, providing them with a backstop against potential exogenous shocks. Directors concurred that the authorities met their objective of reducing vulnerabilities, and that the arrangement supported reforms to strengthen macroeconomic stability by continuing to reduce fiscal and current account deficits.

They noted, however, that growth turned out to be lower than expected and, while unemployment declined, much remained to be done to ensure higher and more inclusive growth. Directors agreed that the arrangement was consistent with the PLL qualification standards and the requirements under the exceptional access policy.

With the benefit of hindsight, Directors also noted some useful lessons learned about program design and implementation, particularly the need to rely on more realistic economic growth projections and the conclusion that with strong ownership, parsimonious conditionality can be effective in delivering on program commitments.

MEDIA RELATIONS

PRESS OFFICER: RANDA MOHAMED ELNAGAR
PHONE: +1 202 623-7100EMAIL: MEDIA@IMF.ORG

Morocco Slams Prominent Francophone Magazine For “Defamatory Cover Page”

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 18:18

Middle East Monitor

The Moroccan government denounced today the French-language magazine Jeune Afrique for publishing anti-Morocco cover page of its latest edition.

Speaking at a press conference, the government’s spokesperson, Mustapha Al-Khalfi said that the country had been exposed to “unjust campaign” by the francophone magazine, adding that it was trying to promote a “negative image” of the North African country.

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

Khalfi described the magazine as “trying to flee responsibility instead of finding the at the real causes of terrorism emergence.”

He described the act as “unacceptable,” stressing that Morocco has been providing assistance to several neighbouring countries in the fight against terrorism.

“Morocco has not witnessed any terrorist attacks in recent years, compared to 300 bombings and terrorist attacks in North Africa and the African Sahara region,” he pointed out.

Earlier this week, Jeune Afrique released a controversial cover headlined “Terrorism Born in Morocco.” The cover featured a five-pointed star representing the kingdom’s flag and included images of the Moroccan-born suspects involved in planning and carrying out the 17 August Barcelona terrorist attacks.

Morocco Vehemently Condemns Jeunes Afrique Magazine’s Defamatory Cover

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 15:32

The North Africa Post

Morocco has vehemently denounced as “reprehensible” the cover published by Jeune Afrique magazine in its latest issue associating between Morocco and terrorism.

By putting photos of the terrorists involved in the Catalonia attack with the big title: “Terrorism born in Morocco”, the magazine chose to ride on the anti-Moroccan tide that has been launched by far-rightist groups on social media looking for a scapegoat to explain failed migration policies and lack of oversight over radicalization factors.

The Spokesperson for the Moroccan government, Mustapha El Khalfi condemned this unprofessional choice of a cover that associates Morocco as a nation, people and institution with a bunch of terrorists who have been born in Morocco but have been radicalized in Spain.

He said, at a press briefing following the weekly cabinet meeting, that such a cover is part of a heinous campaign that seeks to create stereotypes and take Morocco as a scapegoat to explain terrorism.

Khalfi explained that raising the Moroccan origins of the perpetrators of the Catalonia terrorist attacks leads the debate over terrorism astray from the deep causes of extremism in Europe.

The Spokesperson added that on the ground, Morocco remains one of the most insulated countries from terrorism in the MENA region and that its multilayered antiterrorism strategy includes security, social, economic and religious dimensions.

Morocco’s steadfast commitment to international cooperation against terrorism is praised and its counterterrorism experience is wanted by many countries, he underscored.

Spreading stereotypes stigmatizing Morocco for being the birth place of a bunch of youth who were radicalized in Europe is thus an “unjust campaign” that is contradicted with the success of Morocco in combating terrorism at home and abroad.

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.

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