Western Sahara Worldnews
by Samia Errazzouki
Morocco has pushed back its planned local sukuk issue to September so it can be in coordination with other Islamic finance measures, Finance Minister Mohammed Boussaid told Reuters on Wednesday.
Boussaid did not comment further on the amount of the sukuk. Islamic banks and insurers are setting up in the North African kingdom after it adopted legislation allowing them into the domestic market.
(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; writing by Patrick Markey)
Breaking Israel News
By Abra Forman
“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in darkness, and thy gloom be as the noon-day.” Isaiah 58:10 (The Israel Bible™)
Christian and Jewish volunteers with the IFCJ-Chabad initiative distributed Ramadan food packages to needy Muslims in Morocco. (Kobi Yifrach)
In an unprecedented partnership to build bridges between the three Abrahamic religions, on Monday the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) began delivering food packages to 1,500 needy local Moroccan Muslim families in Marrakech. The special Ramadan initiative will continue in Casablanca and Rabat through the end of the holiday on June 21.
The IFCJ, supported by tens of millions of Christians worldwide, officially launched the food aid initiative in partnership with Jeunesse Chabad Maroc and the Mimouna Association, a Muslim student organization dedicated to preserving Moroccan Jewish heritage. The food aid kickoff also included an interfaith dinner at the Slat al Azama Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter (Mellah), in Marrakech, with the IFCJ’s senior vice president, Yael Eckstein.
The interfaith food initiative is aimed at helping poor Moroccans celebrate the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which culminates Ramadan from June 25 to 28.
“Now more than ever, it is so important that the great faiths of our forefather Abraham come together to try to make the world a better place,” said Eckstein. “Since World War II, Morocco has set an example in this part of the world for its treatment of Jewish citizens. And today, it is our honor to stand with the people of Morocco, and show that we can overcome divisions and intolerance everywhere by building bridges of empathy and understanding and truly making a difference.”
Each box the IFCJ, Chabad and Mimouna deliver will contain traditional Ramadan foods, including dates, tea, lentils, chickpeas and other staples.
The interfaith partnership in Morocco began last year and delivered a similar amount of food parcels, expanding a local effort by Chabad from the previous year. The Morocco initiative comes amid a recent interfaith effort by the IFCJ to provide food and clothing to low-income Arab citizens of Israel for Ramadan.
The Fellowship distributed 9,500 food and clothing vouchers to 9,000 Muslim families before the holiday this year, which itself is part of the organization’s $5.6 million social aid to needy Arab Israelis throughout the year.
By Tom Kenning
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) has shortlisted five consortia to take part in the bidding for the first phase of the Noor Midelt solar power complex, which includes hybrid solar PV and concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. Flickr: Philippe Roos
The first phase includes separate plants, each with 150-190MW CSP capacity and a minimum of five hours of thermal storage, alongside a PV component.
The capacity of the PV component, which is expected to provide daytime generation, is left to the bidders’ discretion, but cannot exceed night-time net capacity from CSP by more than 20%.
The complex will be located on 3,150 hectares of land, expandable to 4,106 hectares, 20 kilometres north of Midelt in northern Morocco.
The selected firms were:
- ACWA Power Consortium: International Company for Water and Power Projects, General Electric Company
- EDF Energies Nouvelles Consortium: EDF Energies Nouvelles, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. PJSC – Masdar, Green of Africa, Sener Ingeneria Y Sistemas
- ENGIE Consortium: International Power S.A (Engie), Nareva Holding, SolarReserve, Solaire Direct
- Innogy SE Consortium: Innogy SE, Belectric, Ferrostaal Industrial Projects
- JGC Consortium: JGC Corporation, Abener Energia
On 10 November 2016, seven applicants submitted their proposals to be pre-qualified. Masen will soon issue Request of Proposals (RFP) to the consortia.
680MW of solar, out of Masen’s 2GW by 2020 Noor Solar Plan, have already been launched by Masen in Ouarzazate, Laayoune and Boujdour.
In April, ACWA Power broke ground on the 72MW Noor Ouarzazate IV plant – the first phase of the Noor Solar Plan.
Asharq Al Awsat
Morocco and Tunisia have announced their support to a political solution to the crisis in Libya, namely the Skhirat Agreement, which was signed in late 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the 19th session of the Tunisian-Moroccan High Joint Commission in Rabat, the two countries praised efforts that are aimed at “supporting our Libyan brothers and accompanying them in the path towards a comprehensive political settlement.”
The meeting, which was co-chaired by Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine al-Othmani and his Tunisian counterpart, Youssef Chahed, stressed the two countries’ rejection of the military options.
The statement underlined the importance of reaching a political solution as the only means to overcome the current situation by preserving the country’s territorial unity.
The two sides expressed their condemnation of all forms of terrorism, highlighting the need to unify efforts to fight terrorist groups in the Maghreb region and the world.
In this regard, the two countries urged the five Maghreb states to “promote cooperation, consolidate dialogue and increase security cooperation in order to face terrorism according to an organized mechanism that aims at prioritizing common interests and rejecting all forms of introversion.
Tunisia and Morocco also called for the need to overcome all deadlocks within the Maghreb Union, as well as activating the work of institutions.
“This requires a strong political will and serious work by the five Maghreb countries in line with the noble goals which were set in the Marrakesh agreement,” the statement said.
It also called for fulfilling the aspirations of the Maghreb population with regards to growth, stability and decent living.
The two sides also condemned the violations committed by Israel and the attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging the international community to force the Jewish state to abide by the international legitimacy.
The commission discussed means to boost bilateral cooperation and signed 10 agreements in various sectors, including agriculture, investment, civil aviation, vocational training, higher education, and employment.
by Samia Errazzouki
Morocco’s trade deficit widened 13.1 percent to 78.45 billion dirham ($8.03 billion) in the first five months of 2017 compared with a year earlier, driven by increased imports, the foreign exchange regulator said on Monday.
The trade gap was up from 69.45 billion dirhams during the same period last year, as energy imports rose 42.7 percent to 28.25 billion dirhams, and spending on equipment imports rose 8.1 percent to 50.61 billion dirhams.
Total exports rose 5.3 percent from a year earlier to 103.31 billion dirhams, pushed by a 7.9 percent rise in phosphate exports totaling 17.41 billion dirhams.
Tourism receipts fell by 5.8 percent. Remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans who live abroad slightly rose 0.2 percent to 24.33 billion dirhams, while foreign direct investment rose 24 percent to 12.90 billion dirhams.
(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by Patrick Markey)
In 15 May, CAMCE signed a commercial contract with Tijan Petroleum Co. Ltd. to build a new tyre plant in Morocco. According to local news reports, CAMCE vice president Hu Wei signed the contract with Tijan vice president Ibrahim Khayat witnessed by chairman Luo Yan of CAMCE and executive vice president Ahmed Khayat of Tijan.
The two parties currently plan to invest US$250 million and locate the new plant in Kenitra City in Morocco. The plant is expected to product “three million semi-steel radial tyres for both passenger cars and light duty trucks, with a completion period of 30 months”. Chinese news sources suggest the factory will directly create 950 jobs in its first phase.
The deal fits into a wider regional business development plan. In 2014, the Moroccan government announced its 2014-2020 Industrial Acceleration Plan, which emphasizes China as a key partner. Meanwhile, the project owner is a Saudi enterprise – Saudi Arabia being one of the key countries in the so-called “belt and road” initiative.
In May 2016, the government of Saudi Arabia announced the 2030 Vision to accelerate industrialization and technological innovation to diversify the country’s heavy economic reliance on oil and boost economic development.
Chinese news reports suggest the scope of the work includes “technology transfer, engineering design services, civil construction, installation, procurement of machinery and materials, commissioning, testing and personnel training”.
China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd. (CAMCE) is an incorporated company affiliated to China National Machinery Industry Corporation (SINOMACH). It was established in May 2001 and was listed in Shenzhen Stock Exchange in June 2006, the first IPO company after full circulation stock reform was carried out in the Chinese stock market.
A $7-million shipment of phosphate bound for New Zealand must stay in South Africa until a court case determines its legality.
A shipment of phosphate bound for New Zealand must stay in South Africa until an argument over its legality is sorted out in court.
The NM Cherry Blossom, carrying 50,000 tonnes of phosphate rock worth about $7 million for Tauranga’s Ballance Agri-Nutrients, was stopped at Port Elizabeth in May.
The mineral comes from Laayoune, in the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara which has been under dispute since 1975, when war broke out between Morocco and the Polisario movement fighting for the Sahrawi people.
On Thursday, the Port Elizabeth High Court said the core of the case was whether the Polisario movement had made a prima facie case that it owned the phosphate, Reuters reports.
It ordered that the five respondents, including the owner of the ship, Ballance and Morocco’s OCP phosphate company, were restrained from removing the cargo.
The case is a test of Polisario’s new legal tactic in its long-running conflict with Morocco. It is trying to take advantage of a European court ruling last year that Western Sahara should not be considered part of Morocco in EU and Moroccan deals.
Polisario called the initial court decision a victory.
“This is a historic moment for the Sahrawi people and we hope the final judgment will contribute to the protection of our natural resources,” said representative Kamal Fadel.
Earlier this month, a Panama court dismissed a Polisario case to block another phosphate cargo, saying there was no evidence it belonged to the group and that a domestic court was not the venue to judge political matters.
“We were hoping for the same outcome, but clearly disappointed we didn’t get that,” Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne told RNZ on Friday.
Phosphate has been sourced from other countries to ensure fertilizer supplies are maintained for this spring.
Ballance has said it is comfortable with the legality and ethics of its phosphate sourcing.
The North Africa Post
Former Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Youth in Elche, Alejandro Diaz, was recently arrested and placed on custody on pedophile charges involving minors from the camps of Tindouf.
Morocco’s news agency reported that Diaz raped minors coming from the Tindouf camps. The agency, quoting police sources, said that investigators found online conversations in which Diaz admitted having underage sex with a boy from the Polisario-run camps who was spending the summer holidays in Spain.
Following his arrest, Diaz was dismissed from the presidency of the youth Council in Elch and excluded from the Socialist youth as well as the Valencia section of the socialist labor Party.
The police is still investigating where Diaz assaulted other victims who came from the Tindouf camps on a summer exchange program in Spain.
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.
The North Africa Post
The Amman-based Think Tank, Arab Reform Initiative, released its annual Arab Democracy Index showing that Morocco continues to lead for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Tunisia and Jordan.
The report, using surveys, measures the democratic transition process in Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco.
Kuwait came fourth followed by Algeria, Palestine and Lebanon while Egypt registered a decline in democracy indicators taking the eighth ranking, ahead of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The report authors lament an overall decline in the Arab Democracy Index and the shortcomings of the process of democratic change and its inability to transform the Arab region.
“The overall decline in the Index was largely expected because of the shrinking or closure of the space for freedoms that opened to the Arab communities in 2011. And now it is becoming clearer that the optimism of a breakthrough in the process of democratization that accompanied the Arab Spring revolutions was not realistic,” the Arab Reform Initiative said in a statement.
The Index is co-authored with the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, and national teams from each of the surveyed countries.
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.
Al jazeera America
News France Yesterday
President Macron visits Rabat to discuss Qatar among other issues with King Mohammed VI.
A French diplomatic source said “the priority is to help resolve the crisis” [Alain Jocard/ Pool/AP]
French President Emmanuel Macron has travelled to Morocco for a 24-hour visit for talks on battling terrorism as well as the Libyan conflict and Qatar’s dispute with its Gulf neighbours.
Ahead of Wednesday’s visit, the French presidency said Macron would discuss with Mohammed VI the dispute between Qatar and several countries, as both Paris and Rabat are keen on mediating a solution to the crisis.
by Samia Errazzouki
Morocco said it would send plane-loads of food to Qatar to boost supplies there after Gulf Arab states cut diplomatic and economic ties with Doha.
“This decision was made in conformity with Islamic precepts that call for solidarity and mutual aid between Muslim people, notably during this holy month of Ramadan,” the Moroccan foreign ministry statement said on Monday.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain accuse Qatar of supporting militants – an allegation dismissed by Doha.
On Sunday, Morocco said it would remain neutral in the dispute, offering to mediate between the Gulf countries, which are all close allies to the North African kingdom.
Qatar’s finance minister said on Monday the world’s richest country per capita has the resources to endure and played down the economic toll of the confrontation.
(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Editing by Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens)
[File: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters]
Emir of Kuwait received Moroccan foreign minister who delivered a message from King Mohammed, hailing Kuwaiti efforts.
The Moroccan king, left, called on all parties to ‘exercise restraint’.
Moroccan King Mohammed VI has expressed his “full support” for ongoing efforts by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah to resolve the Gulf crisis.
The statement came in a verbal message conveyed by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita to Sheikh Sabah, who received him in Kuwait City on Tuesday.
“The Moroccan king stressed the importance of containing the Gulf crisis and resolving differences through dialogue between brotherly countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” the statement said, according to Kuwait’s official news agency.
On Tuesday, Bourita arrived in Kuwait from the UAE’s Abu Dhabi as part of ongoing Moroccan efforts aimed at “encouraging comprehensive and honest dialogue” between countries involved in the dispute.
One Monday, Morocco’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Bourita had delivered a “verbal message” from King Mohammed VI to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
The ministry did not provide any further details.
On Sunday, the Moroccan king called on all parties to the Arab diplomatic Gulf crisis to “exercise restraint” and “show wisdom with a view to easing tensions and resolving the crisis”.
The following day, Morocco sent a number of planes bearing humanitarian aid – including food – to Qatar.
On June 5, five Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen – cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism”.
Mauritania followed suit shortly afterwards, while Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations with Doha.
Saudi Arabia has also sealed its land border with Qatar, geographically isolating the Gulf state.
Qatar denies accusations, calling recent moves to diplomatically isolate it as “unjustified”.
Source: News agencies
Middle East Morocco GCC Qatar Kuwait
Bayt.com, a leading job site in the Middle East, has opened its first office site in Casablanca, Morocco, extending its services to thousands of employers and job seekers in the North Africa region.
The new office in Casablanca is now the main point of contact and source of support for employers in West and North Africa who are looking to hire top talent at the local, regional, and international levels.
Bayt.com has a very large and diverse portfolio of more than 28 million job seekers, many of whom are already residing in Morocco. With Bayt.com’s trilingual technology (Arabic, English, and French) that is being used by millions of people around the world, the job site will be working efficiently to support the Moroccan job market and deliver the latest in hiring technology, said Suhail Masri, VP of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com.
“Bayt.com’s expansion to Morocco was based on our commitment to the entire region and our goal to serve more people and help them fulfill their career goals wherever they may be located,” Masri said.
“We aim to provide the support and the essential tools that people need in their journeys toward a successful career. We thank our community of professionals who habitually use our products and services and have made our expansion decision an easy one by voicing their needs and goals.”
As part of the expansion in Casablanca, Bayt.com will provide companies in Morocco with a vast array of employment tools. Employers in Morocco will now be able to utilize Bayt.com’s easy-to-use job posting technology to recruit talent for all positions and build a powerful recruitment brand.
Employers will also be able to search through over 28 million CVs in order to find the candidates that suit their needs. Furthermore, employers will be able to build a career site and corporate CV database through Bayt.com’s Talentera products.
“This is truly exciting. Our new office in Morocco will allow us to work closely with the region’s employers to provide tailored hiring solutions in Morocco and the surrounding area. We are looking forward to forging many productive partnerships and to do our absolute best to aid the job market and the recruitment field in Morocco,” Masri added. – TradeArabia News Service
Written by @Eubulletin
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has played a vital role in the UN-led negotiations aimed at settling the Western Sahara issue, thus helping Morocco reap precious diplomatic points. The King’s policy-making efforts has given Morocco an upper hand in the protracted conflict over the territory by the increasing withdrawals of recognition of the Algerian-based SADR Republic, according to the Spanish paper, La Provincia.
Polisario, a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement, aiming to put an end to Moroccan presence in the disputed region, has recently suffered a humiliating pull-back from T the Polisario leadership led by a criminal named Brahim Ghali wanted by Spanish justice, emphasizing the urgent need of finding a political and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory.
The Western Sahara conflict is an ongoing conflict between Morocco and Polisario, which is a continuation of the past insurgency by Polisario against colonial Spain. Today the conflict mostly takes form of unarmed civil campaigns of the Polisario Front and their self-proclaimed SADR state to claim full recognition independence for Western Sahara.
More stories by Ahmed A Namatalla
Photographer: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images
Moroccan demonstrators clash with security forces in the northern Moroccan city of Al-Hoceima on June 8, 2017.
Investors are ignoring the latest wave of anti-government protests in Morocco as they continue to pile into North Africa’s top-performing bonds this quarter.
Yields on securities issued by the region’s lone investment-grade nation have dropped even as thousands took to the streets in an escalation of discontent simmering since October over unemployment and corruption. The gains were spurred by an appetite for riskier assets and bets the government will maintain a six-year track record of defusing tensions.
The protests are adding pressure on a bond market that’s already showing signs of overheating. The risk premium on Morocco’s sovereign notes over U.S. Treasuries is hovering near the lowest since 2006, while a Bloomberg risk model suggests the country’s credit default swaps should be trading at least 50 percent higher. Yet, there won’t be a selloff as long as the monarchy prevails, said Hakki Vural, a money manager at Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH.
“We are paying attention to the recent anti-government protests,” said Vural, who owns Moroccan bonds. But the conflict may be contained because “political and social support for King Mohammed remains high” and the government has taken steps to reduce rural unemployment, he said from Frankfurt.
Further gains will depend on whether the country’s economy continues to improve and whether the government can handle the growing discontent, according to Vural, who says any increase is unlikely to match the surge seen so far this year.
Investors are pouring money into Morocco and other developing nations as they seek higher-yielding assets to compensate for low returns in advanced countries even after successive interest-rate increases. Emerging-market bond funds have received more than $25 billion in new deposits this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Morningstar Inc.
Economists expect Morocco’s growth to accelerate to 4.2 percent this year, after a drought that curbed agricultural exports to Europe limited the expansion to 1.5 percent in 2016. Morocco’s current-account deficit has eased to 1.1 percent from more than 9 percent in 2012.
Protests in the north eastern province of Hoceima have persisted since October, when the police were said to have killed a fisherman. Chants against high unemployment, government corruption and demands to release political detainees spread to main cities including Casablanca and Rabat this month after police arrested Nasser Zefzafi, a prominent activist, along with dozens of others.
Moroccan bonds have appreciated 2.8 percent since the end of March, beating regional rivals such as Egypt and the wider Bloomberg index for dollar-denominated emerging government debt.
Bloomberg’s sovereign-credit risk model shows Morocco’s CDS contracts should be trading at more than 200 basis points, based on metrics including economic growth, debt levels, reserves, quality of local bank assets and political risk.
The yield on the government’s $1.5 billion of bonds due in 2022 is down 40 basis points this quarter to 3.19 percent, while the cost to insure those notes against default for five years has retreated to 127 basis points, near the lowest since the start of 2011’s Arab Spring.
“Contrary to many of its peers, there is a carefully calibrated space for dissent in Morocco,” said Philippe Dauba-Pantannacce, a London-based senior economist and geopolitical strategist at Standard Chartered Bank. “Investors tend to have a certain confidence in the Moroccan leadership’s ability to steer the country and strike a balance between stability and space for dissent.”
The oil and gas firm is re-entering the Koba-1 well, part of the Sidi Moktar project in central Morocco.
A ten-day work programme is anticipated.
Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) has kicked off a new programme at the Sidi Moktar project in Morocco, where it is re-entering the Koba-1 well.
The plan is to re-enter the well to perforate and test Lower Liassic reservoir, as well as possibly the Argovian, Sound explained.
It is anticipated to be a ten-day work programme, and it will be followed by a similar programme for Sidi Moktar’s Kamar-1 well.
Sound Energy highlighted that the Sidi Moktar area, which spans 2,700 square kilometres, is located close to infrastructure and gas demand, including a large scale phosphate plant which is owned by the Moroccan state.
Badile – Italy exploration
Sound Energy also noted that drilling operations for the Badile exploration well, near Milan in Italy, is now nearing the final stages.
The well has now reached a measured depth of 4,328 metres, and drilling is ongoing towards the targeted reservoir which is expected to be penetrated later this month.
Morocco, a close ally of the Gulf countries, says it will remain neutral and offers to facilitate dialogue.
The King of Morocco has close relations with GCC countries [Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP]
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has offered to mediate a diplomatic row between Qatar and three Gulf Arab states that severed diplomatic relations with Doha and have since imposed a debilitating blockade on the country.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco said in a statement on Sunday that the kingdom was ready to play a “constructive and neutral” role in this crisis.
“If the parties so wish, the Kingdom of Morocco is ready to offer its services to foster a frank and comprehensive dialogue on the basis of non-interference in internal affairs and the fight against religious extremism,” the statement read.
“Because of the strong personal ties of sincere fraternity and mutual consideration between King Mohammed VI – and His brother Kings and Emirs of the Gulf countries, the Kingdom of Morocco has been careful not to pay into public statements and hasty statements which only reinforce discord and deepen differences,” the ministry said in the statement.
It added that the King had called on all parties “to be wise in order to reduce tension, to overcome this crisis and to finally settle the causes that led to this, in accordance with the spirit which has always prevailed within the GCC.”
“The Kingdom favours a constructive neutrality, which cannot confine it to passive observation of a disturbing escalation between brotherly countries.”
The dispute between Qatar and the Arab countries escalated after false remarks attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were published on Qatar’s state-run news agency by hackers.
READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed relations with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting “extremists” and their regional rival Iran.
The Qatari government has dismissed the allegations as “baseless” and said that it has been leading the region in attacking what it called the roots of “terrorism”, including giving young people hope through jobs, educating hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and funding community programmes to challenge the agendas of armed groups.
“Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement – a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors,” the government said.
GCC Morocco Middle East Qatar Saudi Arabia
Photo By Master Sgt. Philip Speck
Senior Airman Judson Wisley
More than 75 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard deployed to Spain and Morocco this spring for African Lion, a multinational exercise that tested the interoperability of military troops from 11 countries.
Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing and three of the unit’s C-130 aircraft joined forces with Airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Forces Africa joint tactical air controllers, the Utah Air National Guard, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and troops from nine other nations.
“Multinational exercises give us an opportunity to train together, allow us to support joint and total forces and strengthen our skills for future operations,” said Lt. Col. Jason Johnson, U.S. Air Force lead commander for the exercise, which ran from April 19 to 28.
The U.S. Air Force’s participation in the U.S. Marine Corps-led exercise provided several joint training opportunities for U.S. military branches and Moroccan forces, according to said Capt. Tristan Stonger, 123rd Airlift Wing exercise project officer. It also provided an opportunity to reinforce lessons learned from past African Lion exercises and helped build upon a foundation for future military cooperation and engagements.
“Working in a new environment with other U.S. military branches and the Moroccans gives us the opportunity to hone and refine our skills and enhances our professional relationships, allowing us to support the interoperability of forces,” Stonger said.
In addition to building relationships between the branches of the military and the Kingdom of Morocco, the wing was able to perform several different training scenarios to prepare for future deployments, including low-level air drops and low-level navigation through the mountains of North Africa.
“This type of training helps keep our aircrews current and fully prepared and trained for any type of airlift operation that our nation calls for,” said Maj. Penn Brown, a pilot for Kentucky’s 165th Airlift Squadron.
This annually scheduled, combined multilateral exercise aims to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures while demonstrating the strong bond between the nations’ militaries. In addition to forces from the United States and Morocco, other participating nations were Germany, Senegal, Mauritania, Canada, France, Spain, Great Britain, Mali and Tunisia.
Date Taken: 06.09.2017
Date Posted: 06.09.2017 10:07
Story ID: 237033
Location: NAVAL STATION ROTA, ES
Radio New Zealand
A shipment of phosphate bound for New Zealand faces another week of detention in South Africa after a court ruling on the cargo was delayed.
The NM Cherry Blossom was carrying 50,000 tonnes of phosphate rock when it was stopped at Port Elizabeth. Photo: Supplied / M.L. Jacobs MarineTraffic.com
The NM Cherry Blossom was carrying 54,000 tonnes of phosphate rock – one eighth of New Zealand’s annual needs – when it was stopped at Port Elizabeth en route for Tauranga.
Activists then went to court, saying the fertiliser had been mined illegally in the Western Sahara, a desert territory controlled by Morocco.
Morocco’s right to this land is disputed.
The South African judges were expected to deliver their verdict today but they have put off their decision until next Thursday.
New Zealand needs phosphate for its agriculture because the mineral is essential for plant growth.
Morocco and Western Sahara are by far the biggest exporters of the rock.
Western Sahara was a Spanish colony that was taken over by Morocco in the 1970s.
The seized shipment had been contracted by the fertiliser company Ballance Agri Nutrients.
This company has another vessel en route for New Zealand, which is believed to be travelling via Cape Horn to avoid a repetition of the problems in South Africa.
Independence campaigners for Western Sahara have been targeting phosphate shipments after the European Court ruled last year that Western Sahara should not be considered part of Morocco for trade purposes.
Parallel case in Panama
Meanwhile a parallel case has been resolved in Panama.
In that case, a shipment of phosphate was detained while transiting the Panama Canal en route for western Canada.
The vessel was later released after posting a bond.
But in a new development, a court in Panama has thrown out a case brought by the Western Sahara independence campaigners.
The judges ruled their court was not the appropriate venue to resolve a political dispute.
Ballance Agri Nutrients has been watching the Panamanian case for any clues on the outcome of its own case.
Moroccan Foreign Ministry organized the Africa Day Celebration here on Thursday under the theme “Morocco as an actor for collective emergence in Africa.”
At the opening of the first edition in Morocco as a member of the African Union (AU), Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said 2017 has been an “exceptional” year in the relationships between Morocco and African countries.
In February, Morocco rejoined the AU after 33 years of absence.
Morocco’s return to AU has crowned its strong commitment to Africa’s peace, stability and prosperity, Bourita said.
He noted that two thirds of Morocco’s foreign investments are directed toward Africa, making the kingdom the largest African investor in West Africa and the second in the continent.
According to the minister, more than a thousand Moroccan companies are operating in Africa and invested 2.2 billion U.S. dollars between 2008 and 2015.
Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani and ambassadors of foreign countries also attended the celebration.