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Morocco News meets the World

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    Moroccan Palais Namaskar (Courtesy hotelchatter.com)

    Taroudant, Morocco- According to Travel.amerikanki, the Moroccan Palais Namaskar in Marrakesh topped the list of the 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Africa.

    The Moroccan La Sultana Marrakech in Marrakech ranked sixth.

    Palais Namaskar and La Sultana Marrakech are the only North African hotels included in the list.

    While Africa is known as an exotic tourist destination, luxury also is a key feature characterizing hotels and spas in the African continent.

    The Palais Namaskar in Marrakesh has been awarded “Best New Luxury Hotel” by the World Luxury Hotels Awards 2013, and had previously been awarded “Best Hotel of the year 2013” by the famous American magazine Robb Report, as well as“Best of the Best Hotels 2013” by Só Safari magazine. The hotel has received 11 prestigious awards since its opening in 2012.

    Located in the heart of the Palmeraie between the desert and Atlas Mountains in Marrakesh, Palais Namaskar is a 5-star luxury hotel and spa with private villas and suites.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    French Ambassador to the UN to sue Javier Bardem for defamation

    Fez- France’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, said that he would sue Spanish actor Javier Bardem for defamation.

    Last week the Spanish actor, known for his unwavering support for the Polisario, made a statement to the press that caused uproar in Morocco and resulted in a diplomatic crisis between the kingdom and France.

    Bardem told French media last week that, during a meeting he had held with France’s Ambassador to Washington in 2011, the French diplomat had told him that “Morocco is a mistress who you sleep with every night, who you don’t particularly love but you have to defend.”

    But it turned that the Spanish actor was referring to France’s Ambassador to the United Nations rather than its Ambassador to Washington. The French newspaper Le Monde, which first published the statement of the actor, has rectified the error.

    On Tuesday, Gerard Araud was quoted by Moroccan news website Hespress as saying that he would seek permission from his Foreign Ministry to sue the Spanish actor.

    According to Moroccan journalist, Moumaed Ouamoussi, Araud told him in a phone conversation that he had never met with the Spanish actor, nor did he make such a demeaning statement against Morocco.

    Deception tactic

    This deception tactic used by this staunch supporter of the Polisario is in line with the misrepresentations contained in his film "Sons of the Could".

    One of the most flagrant misrepresentations is when he says in the trailer of the film that the United Nations Mission for the organization of the Referendum in the Sahara, known by its French acronym as the MINURSO, is the only UN Mission that does not include a human rights monitoring mechanism.

     But it takes a quick look on the UN website to discover that the MINURSO is not the only UN mission that does not include this mechanism. In fact, there are two others, in much hotter spots, that don’t have this mechanism, namely the UN Mission in Liberia and the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei.

    In addition, there had been other UN Missions whose mandates have ended, and which did not include such a human rights monitoring mechanism. These missions are as follows:

    United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (1999-2005). 

    United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (2000-2008).

    United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (1994-2000).

    United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (1993-1996).

    United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (1991- 2003). 

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    71 illegal immigrants apprehended in Tangier-Fnideq coastline

    Rabat- Another group of sub-Saharan African migrants has been found dead off the coast of Sebta (Ceuta), a Spanish possession on the Mediterranean coastline of Morocco. The group of 15 migrants is suspected to have  drowned while trying to reach Sebta by sea.

    The story began when 300 people who live in the adjoining forests of Sebta decided to enter the city by night. They divided into two groups, one that traveled to Sebta on foot, and another by sea in order to scatter the surveillance efforts of the Spanish Civil Guard.  Before morning, the migrants had been scattered and were dead. The survivors said that Spanish troops shot them with rubber bullets while they were still in the water. Others said they had been sprayed with tear gas while swimming.

    After having collected 15 drowned bodies, the Spaniards handed them over to the Moroccan authorities who had agreed to take over and place them in the surrounding morgues. The Spaniards then captured the survivors and handed them back to the Moroccans who, once again, had agreed to acceptthem, and placed them in Moroccan detention centers at the Moroccan taxpayers expense.

    If Sebta and Melilla are occupied cities, and if the Spaniards would like to keep those cities, regardless of the cost, why does Morocco share the costs with them? Why does Morocco foot the bill for the costs alone so often?

    Spanish authorities say time and again that they were in those cities even before the appearance of a central State in Morocco.  In other words, they suggest that when they arrived on our territory, Morocco was a kind of terra nullius, or land belonging to no one,which is an obvious historical untruth.

    But assuming that one can give credit to their claims, why should Morocco help them as it does when they were supposed to have come here before Moroccos existence? And why dont our northern neighbors take over everything on these African Moroccan territories? These people want Sebta to remain a Spanish city, but refuse to pay the price or assume all the problems to make it so.

    Actually, the problem is not only a Spanish responsibility but also a Moroccan one. Morocco grants all favors and facilities to Sebta that enables the city to be and to exist. To confirm this, we just need to know that Sebta cannot live without the 30,000 people who go there every day from Morocco, who buy and sell their products there. Sebta couldnt last under Spanish occupation if Morocco did not provide its water, bread, and meat.

    Moroccans have not forgotten the humiliation they suffered twelve years ago when an armed conflict almost erupted between Rabat and Madrid regarding the small Mediterranean island of Leila, claimed by both Spain and Morocco. The Spaniards attacked Morocco occupying the rock and jailed the few Moroccan soldiers who were there and agreed to give it back to Moroccans after an American mediation.

    And in Melilla, its a similar situation. The Spaniards stop dozens of Africans who are organizing actual suicide operations from entering the city that they consider European and then deliver them to Morocco which accepts them and hosts them at border crossing points that are kept secret.

    If cities such as Sebta and Melilla, in addition to many islands, are occupied, the first thing to do is to act consequently and not cooperate with the occupant. The most curious phenomenon is that we Moroccans have to assume the financial costs of the occupation of our land.

    African migrants, who have unquestionably suffered due to their status, are faced with three possibilities: either they die in their attempts to reach Spain, or they succeed in arching Spain, or they are repatriated to their country of origin.  And in all three cases, Morocco remains etched in their memory as a bad memory, like an impassable wall that stands between them and their dreams. Morocco doesnt just substitute for Spain for work, but it also lends its body so that Spain can wipe its feet from all the dirty things it commits.

    If our Moroccan cities are occupied, really occupied, then release them or leave them alone, but dont force us Moroccans to pay with our money for the occupation.

    Translated by Nahla Landolsi. Edited by Elisabeth Myers

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed  

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    Prince Moulah Hicham

    Casablanca- According to news website Le360, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Minister of Justice, Cheikh Mohamed Ben Zayed Ben Sultan Al Nahyan, has recently asked Prince Moulay Hicham to leave the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Cheikh Mohamed Ben Zayed Ben Sultan Al Nahyan has reportedly asked Prince Moulay Hicham, cousin of King Mohammed VI, to close the Al Tayyer Energy (ATE) office in Abu Dhabi and to leave the United Arab Emirates.

    The ATE office in Abu Dhabi was created by Moulay Hicham to manage the investments and operations of the ATE Company.

    According to Le360, Prince Moulay Hicham “is not really getting along very well with some of the Gulf monarchies who do not appreciate the Moroccan prince’s double discourse.”

    According to the same source, the reason why some of Gulf sovereigns have changed their attitudes towards Prince Moulay Hicham is because he “keeps asking them for favors while still criticizing them in  Western media.”

    Prince Moulay Hicham's double discourse is apparently what has led Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Cheikh Mohamed Ben Zayed Ben Sultan Al Nahyan to ask him to leave the UAE.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    King Mohammed VI with French President François Hollande

    Rabat- The Moroccan government on Thursday said that it still awaits a clear explanation from French authorities regarding the two incidents that caused a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

    Following the weekly government meeting, Morocco’s Minister of Communication and government’s spokesperson, said that his government still did not receive a clear explanation from Paris regarding the two incidents.

    “We are confident about the fact that France will know how to solve these two incidents by providing the necessary explanations, "said Mustapha El Khalfi.

    “The incident of the descent of seven policemen was I disregard of the legal agreements signed between the two countries and the statement attributed to an ambassador is insulting. There has been a violation of diplomatic norms,” he added.

    The trigger of the current diplomatic row between the two allies was a lawsuit filed by an NGO against Abdellatif Hammouchi, the head of its domestic intelligence agency (DGST).

    The lawsuit was followed by the decision of a French judge to send 7 policemen to Moroccan ambassador’s residence to inform Hammouchi, who was believed to be accompanying the interior minister on a visit to Paris, of a summons issued by the investigating judge.

    As if this incident was not enough, Spanish actor, Javier Bardem, known for his unwavering support to the Polisario Front, which claims the independence of the Sahara, told French media last week that, during a meeting he had held with France’s Ambassador to the United Nations in 2011, the French diplomat had told him that “Morocco is a mistress who you sleep with every night, who you don’t particularly love but you have to defend.”

    On Monday, the Moroccan government condemned in “the strongest terms,” the alleged demeaning expressions” made by the French Ambassador, adding that they were “scandalous and unacceptable.”


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    Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Morocco (MAP)

    Rabat - The Consulate General of Morocco in Tripoli came under fire on Thursday from an unknown source, while no casualties were reported among staff or visitors, said a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

    Following this unfortunate incident, Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, immediately contacted his Libyan counterpart to know about the circumstances surrounding the incident, and to ask the Libyan authorities to take full responsibility for strengthening the security measures to protect the Moroccan diplomatic missions and consular centers, and staff in Libya, the same source added.

    The Libyan official expressed regret and condemnation of the armed attack that targeted the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco in Tripoli, and promised to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Moroccan diplomatic mission and consular centers in Libya in order to prevent such incidents from happening again.


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    Herve  Ladsous, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations

    Rabat- Sixteen hundred Moroccan soldiers are taking part in a significant African military operation under the auspices of the U.N. to cope with terrorism threats in the region.

    The Assistant General Secretary of the UNO Hervé Ladsous hailed Morocco’s contributions to the UN operations in Africa, where about 1,600 Moroccan Blue Berets are deployed, primarily in Ivory Coast and the Congo in order to address the threat of Al-Qaeda. .

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, Hervé Ladsous said Thursday that ”I have to say that every time I was in one of these missions, I was eager  to meet the Moroccan contingents to show them our recognition of the very good job they do.”

    According to the same source, Ladsous also praised Morocco’s commitment in the Central African Republic, explaining that the Kingdom "agreed to quickly deploy a military team and make it at the disposal of the United Nations mission, which is still a political mission but will possibly become a peacekeeping mission".

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

     © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    The dam of Bin el Ouidane, Morocco

    By Youssef Mrini

    How can you talk about Morocco without evoking these idyllic places? They make the country a genuine destination and are a memorable souvenir for those who visit.

    Morocco is considered by some as one of the most beautiful countries in the world; it is also one of the most valued touristic destinations. Here is a summary of the places that you must see on your visit to Morocco:

    1 - The Todra Valley Gorge 

    The Todra Valley Gorge

    At 15 km (9 miles) from the center of Tinghir, the entrance to the High Atlas, there is a huge gorge in the Todra valley. The high limestone cliffs rise 300 meters above the ground and peak at 2500 meters. Some of them have never been climbed. For thousands of years, the Todra  river  carved the cliffs, which are decorated with beautiful colors by the sun.

    2 – Merzouga

    Merzouga

    Merzouga is a small Saharan village located in the southeast of Morocco, 35 km from Rissani and 50 km from Erfoud. Merzouga is famous for its dunes, the highest in Morocco. It has become one of the primary tourist attractions in the region.

     3 – Paradise Valley

    Paradise Valley, Morocco

    On the road of Imouzzer, 25 km from Aourir, there is a small rest stop. This is where the adventure to Paradise Valley begins. Mountains, forests, and rivers surround this beautiful place. It is composed of three major waterfalls with immense natural turquoise swimming pools.

    4 - Aït-ben-Haddou

    Aït-ben-Haddou, Morocco

    Ait Ben Haddou is a ksar of Morocco, in the province of Ouerzazate. It is classified as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and is located in the valley of Ounila, in the south of Tafilalet.

     5 – The Ziz River

    The Ziz River

    The source of the Ziz River is located in the Eastern High Atlas. Although it is discontinuous along its bed, the river has long been used to facilitate human transit through this mountainous region.

     6 – Dades gorges

    Dades gorges, Morocco

    The Dades gorges are located in the upper Valley of Dades. This is a popular touristic destination.

    7 – Well of Khettaras

    Well of Khettaras, Morocco

    A qanat is an underground irrigation system that allows water collection and filtration. The Well of Khettaras is located near Erfoud and is one of the oldest vestiges in Morocco.

     8 – Akchour

    Akchour village, Morocco

    Akchour is a small village in Morocco. It is 30 km from Chefchaouen on the road to Oued Lau, in northern Morocco

     9 – Ouzoud waterfalls

    Ouzoud waterfalls, Morocco

    The Ouzoud waterfalls are about 110 meters high. They are arranged on three levels, on the Ouzoud Wadi in the Middle Atlas.

     10 – The dam of Bin el Ouidane

    The dam of Bin el Ouidane, Morocco

    The dam of Bin el Ouidane is located in the province of Azilal, designed by engineer André Coyne.

    Isn’t Morocco the most beautiful country in the world?

    Translated by Nahla Landolsi. Edited by Katrina Bushko

     

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    Rape in Morocco

    Casablanca- Rape, in its most inhuman forms, still prevails in Morocco despite all efforts to combat it. A waitress was recently gang-raped in Meknes.

    According to daily Assabah, a 19-year-old waitress was kidnapped then gang-raped by four people in Meknes. The three suspects were presented to the Prosecutor on charges of kidnapping, violence and rape.

    The young waitress was kidnapped at 4:00 a.m. at the café where she works, before the eyes of the café owner and his customers.

    According to local police, the café clients could not intervene to save the girl as the three suspects were drunk and armed with swords they used to kidnap her.

    The waitress told the police that she had already been the victim of rape when she was 17, but never dared to report that to the police because of her fear of the consequences.

    The abolition of Article 475 of the criminal code, which allowed rapists to flee justice by marrying their victims, does not seem to change the bitter truth about rape in Morocco.

    The rate of violence and child rape are still high in the kingdom, and the reasons for that mainly are attributed on the lack of stricter laws to punish the perpetrators.  

     © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    sm_le_roi-__delegation_du_conseil_superieur_des_imams_-g

    Rabat- “King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, kindly respond favorably to the request of the High Council of Imams in Côte d'Ivoire, regarding the training in Morocco of Ivorian imams and preachers,” said a statement of the King's office on Friday.

    Given its expertise in religious education, "the Kingdom will also support the modernization and reform of Medersas in Côte d'Ivoire, notably regarding programs, training of trainers, and textbooks," the same source added.

    To this end, "the Sovereign has given his instructions to the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs to ensure the implementation of the royal instructions in consultation with the relevant Ivorian authorities," the statement said.

    This royal initiative reflects the historical and spiritual ties linking the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa to King Mohammed VI, and the religious impact of the Kingdom and its commitment to the precepts of moderate, open and tolerant Islam.

    The request of the Higher Council of Imams in Côte d'Ivoire comes after similar requests from Mali, Guinea, Tunisia and Libya.


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    John Kerry Congratulates King Mohamed VI on the occasion of the Throne Day

    Rabat- Just a few weeks after Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders released negative reports on journalistic freedom in Morocco, the U.S. Department of State has submitted a new report that reveals many civil liberties violations in the kingdom.

    Unlike the HRW and RWB reports, the US State Department’s latest report of Human Rights Practices uses a more positive language; however, it reports a negative record of human rights practices in Morocco.

    The report began by hailing Morocco’s improvement in terms of protecting immigrants and refugees, stating that “the government encouraged the return of Sahrawi refugees if they acknowledged the government’s authority over Western Sahara...The government continued to make travel documents available to Sahrawis, and there were no reported cases of Sahrawis being prevented from traveling.”

    Still, it found corruption in all branches of government. More specifically, “Corruption was a serious problem in the executive branch, including police, as well as the legislative and judicial branches of government,” according to the report.

    The report said that Morocco’s laws grant freedom of speech to citizens, yet, “the government abridged civil liberties by infringing on freedom of speech and press, by limiting freedom of assembly,”

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, Minister of Communication Mustapha El Khalfi said that the US report was “selective.”  But a number of Moroccan NGO’s such as l”Oganisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (Moroccan Organization of Human Rights ONDH) and La Fédération internationale des droits de l'Homme (the International Federation of Human Rights FIDH) described the American report as “balanced.”

     Mhammed Grine, vice president of the OMDH, said that the report of the State Department is "broadly balanced. It highlights the advanced made while it shows the shortcomings that need to be fixed. The report shows, however, that not everything has gone wrong.”

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Casablanca- On Monday, February 24, an armed gang attacked an armored bank truck in Tangier, robbing MAD 7.5 million from it. A video of the robbery has recently gone viral on the web. After shooting two guards, four suspects flew away in a fast car after they had stolen MAD 7.5 million from a bank […]

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    two fishing boats collide, 20 people unaccounted for

     Taroudant, Morocco- According to Moroccan TV channel 2M, a ship commanded by a Norwegian captain collided with a Moroccan fishing boat in the waters of Dakhla, in southern Morocco.

    “15 people were rescued so far, while 20 people are accounted for,” the same source said.

    The same source added that the Moroccan fishing boat, carrying 35 seamen, was hit by another fishing boat on its way back to the Dakhla seaport, and split it into two parts early this morning at around 4 am.

    According to the initial available data, people onboard the ship are believed to be all Moroccan seamen.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Saad Dine El Otmani

    Taroudant, Morocco- The former Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Eddine Otmani proposed Friday in the southern Moroccan city of Dakhla that the Sahara be called the “Moroccan Western Sahara”.

    The former Minister wrote on his Facebook account that “many of the people in the region have shown special interest and some of them commended my proposal to call it: the Moroccan Western Sahara”

    At a meeting on the first regional forum of the youth of the Justice and Development Party of the region of Oued Ed-Dahab & Lagouira, the former minister engaged in an “animated debate on national issues with more focus on the Sahara issue.

    “We have the Eastern Sahara, and the Western Sahara, and both are Moroccans” Otmani said on his twitter account.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    King Mohammmed VI au Mali

    Rabat- Two casual pictures of King Mohammed VI, which were posted on social media on Saturday, are going viral with several thousands of Moroccans sharing them on Facebook and twitter. The two pictures show the Moroccan monarch wearing casual clothes away from any royal protocol. The pictures are believed to be taken during King Mohammed VI’s recent to Cote D’Ivoire where he started an official visit earlier this week. King Mohammed VI in casual attire in MaliThe first picture shows King Mohammed VI surrounded by two Moroccan citizens, with one of them putting his hand around the King’s neck.  In the second picture, the Moroccan monarch appears with another Moroccan citizen in a music store.


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    Morocco-Cote D’Ivoire- King Mohammed VI launch projects of over 8,000 low-cost housing units

    Washington- The commitment of King Mohammed VI to the development efforts in Africa shows how "the Moroccan talent is committed through an exemplary approach" in the continent, said Friday in Washington, Michael A. Battle, Ambassador and Senior Advisor to the Organization of US- African Leaders Summit, slated for next August in the U.S. capital.

    "In fact, Morocco is Africa and Africa is Morocco," stressed the former U.S. ambassador to the African Union, at a conference at the National Press Club on "regional solutions to Africa's challenges", noting that the Kingdom "shows the way" through an "approach that hardly recognizes the artificial differences between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa."

    The senior U.S. official regretted that "Algeria has invested so much capital in European banks. If just some of these funds were allocated to projects of the African Development Bank, it would be able to finance almost every African project related to infrastructure development."

    "It is for this reason that Morocco sets the example by demonstrating how successful African countries are involved in the development efforts of other African countries," welcomed the U.S. official, "commending" the Kingdom for its commitment to solidarity in the continent.

    Michael A. Battle also noted that the efforts of the African Development Bank, the African Union, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa", combined with Morocco's clout in the continent are likely to provide a clear demonstration that Africa is able to make its own solutions "to various development issues."


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    Atijari

    Rabat- Attijariwafa Bank and Visa officials announced that Attijari has been named the FIFA World Cup 2014’s ™ Official Bank in Morocco.

    Attijariwafa Bank’s executive director, Driss Maghraoui and Mohamed Touhami El Ouazzani, Visa’s Regional manager in Morocco, announced  Attijari’s exclusive status as the Official Bank in Morocco of FIFA World cup Brazil 2014, in partnership with Visa, at a press conference on Friday.

    Marking FIFA World Club’s 20th session, Attijariwafa bank launched exclusively two mass-produced debit Visa cards limited under the names «NOUJOUM " and "ABTAL".

    According to Morocco’s Almassaa newspaper, Attijariwafa Bank is the only bank in Morocco that enables its customers to personalize their Visa card with the World cup’s trophy.

    Soccer enthusiasts will have the opportunity to customize their bank cards with a picture of their choosing.

    According to the same source, Attijariwafa bank will organize a series of quizzes for its customers. The lucky winners will attend the biggest soccer event worldwide and enjoy a unique experience.

    This partnership aims at strengthening Attijariwafa Bank’s leading position in electronic banking activities. The company holds 16% of all cards in the market and about 19% of the Banking Automatic Teller Machines in Morocco.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    King Mohammed VI Launches in Abidjan Construction of Factory for Cement

    Casablanca- The late King Hassan II compared his kingdom with a tree with African roots and its branches in Europe, but this never happened. Hassan II ruled Morocco for 28 years and his death left the country in limbo. The roots are not really African and the branches are not particularly European.

    Hassan II died with limited relations between Morocco and the rest of Africa, as official economic figures testify. The only exception is the personal relationships that the King had built up with many leaders on the African continent, including Omar Bongo, Mobutu Sese Seko and Abdou Diouf. Besides these friendships, Morocco had no African foreign policy, apart from the policy of defense against Algerian attacks in the Sahara dispute.

    But today things have changed, and King Mohammed VI began his second trip in Africa in less than six months. In Mali, Gabon, Guinea and Ivory Coast. No one would have ever thought that Hassan II would travel within Africa twice in one year. The eyes of our mainly French-speaking diplomatic relations, were turned to Paris and Brussels, as if they were the only capitals in the world.

    No one in Hassan II’s time had thought of Morocco as African first, and able to do its best and prosper the most within its own region. No one had believed that working within the region, would give Morocco the means to talk to the great world powers. Morocco would have power nor influence on the world stage without this regional involvement in this tumultuous world where only the powerful countries are heard.

    Let’s look at the Moroccan trade scale with the few African countries that have economic relations with Rabat: the surplus always favors Morocco, exporting more to them than it imports. In 2013 Maroc Telecom recorded a 27% leap in its revenue in Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, even though it decreased by 17% internally. The same can be said for Attijariwafa Bank, which operates in 11 African countries and saw its performance soar in these countries, its profits increasing faster in sub-Saharan Africa than in Casablanca. Meanwhile, BMCE Bank, is becoming ever more established in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Morocco has an important role to play in Africa, which needs friends during difficult times. Despite the crises, the problems and the instability, Africa remains a very promising continent, especially for Morocco, which is a medium-caliber power because it is neither industrial nor agricultural nor oil-producing, but a service-based economy and, most importantly, the point of passage to Europe. Also, and in parallel to royal diplomacy, we are in need of institutional diplomacy that works year-round. However, this diplomacy doesn’t exist today, and this is why the King works to fill the gap left by the official diplomatic machine, which is panting and staggering without significant strategic vision.

    Last year, France set up a committee experts composed of five prominent figures led by former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. The committee’s mission was to review and revise French policy in Africa after Paris noticed a decrease in influence on the continent. The committee advised the French government to "lean on Morocco, which has its footholds in several African countries and companies with large and important holdings on the continent, in order to not leave the field open to the Chinese and Americans who are currently investing in it."

    So, do you understand now why the King visited Sub-Saharan Africa twice in less than six months?

    Translated by Nahla Landolsi. Edited by Jessica Rohan


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    Map of the Moroccan Sahara

    New York- As I was reading an article about the question of the Sahara entitled "The Tindouf Refugee Camps: A Moroccan’s Reflections", I was struck by the amount of factual mistakes and misrepresentation made by the editors of the article, as well as by the shallowness of the arguments its author makes in defending the Polisairo and slamming Morocco.

    In the first part of this article, which was published in Jadaliyya, I will first refute the allegations contained in the editor’s note. In the second part, which will be published next week, I will refute the allegations made by the author of the article,

    Before I embark on refuting the arguments and misrepresentation contained in this “analysis”, I should point out that this is not the first time that news portal has published articles ridden with factual mistakes about the conflict with the clear idea of serving a specific agenda, which presents Morocco as a country that occupies the Sahara and prevents Saharawis from practicing their right to self-determination.

    The editors of this publication are fully aware of the lack of information that prevails among Americans and in the West in general, for the narrative has been monopolized in recent years by the supporters of the Poliasrio. Therefore, they seize the opportunity to present their audience with the version of facts that serves their political agenda, no matter how this version departs from reality.

    Spanish census was held in 1974

    The first misrepresentation contained in the article refers to the census conducted by Spain in the mid 1970’s at the request of the United Nations with the view to organizing a referendum on self-determination in the Sahara. Here, the editors say that Spain conducted the census in 1973, when every official record of the UN and the literature written on the conflict show that the census was conducted in 1974. To help the editor of that publication get their facts straight, I should point out that exact number of population polled at the time was 73,497 people.

    In this regard, the editor forgets to add that the census conducted by Spain did not include the Saharawis who left the territory following Spain's scorched earth policy against the Saharawis following the war waged against it by the Army of the Liberation of the Sahara in early 1958. This war, which was tacitly supported by Rabat, led Spain to sign with the Moroccan government the Cintra accord by which it returned Tarfaya to Morocco.

    Before that agreement was reached, Spain aided by France launched Operation Ecouvillon to tame the uprising that was spreading in the whole Saharan territory, including Sidi Ifni, which was returned to Morocco in 1969, and the present day disputed Saharan territory. As a consequence of this scorched earth policy, thousands of Saharawis were forced to leave the territory and relocate in other parts in northern Morocco. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 were forced to leave the territory as a consequence of Spanish punitive policy.

    The UN calls for self-determination in 1966

    While talking about the census, the editors make another factual mistake, when they say that Spain was requested to conduct a referendum of self-determination in the territory in 1965.

    A quick look at the UN website will show anybody that the first time when the General Assembly called on Spain to make the necessary arrangement for such a referendum was in December 1966.  In 1965, and following heavy pressure from Morocco at the United Nations, the General Assembly called on Madrid, for the first time, to decolonize the territory.

    Hadn’t Morocco pressured Spain since 1957, the General Assembly would have never called on Spain to decolonize the territory, nor urge it to organize a referendum of self-determination under UN auspices. It is only thanks to the efforts made by Morocco since its independence that the question of the Sahara was brought to the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly, in charge of decolonization.

    The Sahara is not part of an imagined pre-colonial nation

    The other misrepresentation of facts is when the editors of the article claim that “(…) Morocco asserted pressure, claiming the land as part of an imagined pre-colonial nation.”

    Morocco’s sovereignty claims over the Sahara don’t stem from the idea of an “imagined pre-colonial nation.” It is rather based on the historical and legal ties that existed between Morocco and the Saharan territory before the coming of Spain and France to the region. 

    Here I ought to highlight a fact that the editors of this publication systematically ignore in their narrative. As Moroccan Professor of comparative politics at Duke University, Abdeslam Maghraoui, once pointed out, Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara is based on three distinct categories: (1) historical ties of sovereignty between Moroccan sultans and Saharan tribes; (2) treaties and colonial records recognizing Morocco’s territorial integrity and its control over the Saharan provinces; and (3) Morocco’s efforts to help liberate the southern provinces from Spanish colonial rule after 1956." 

    What those who support the Polosario and Algeria’s political agenda want to hide, or maybe they themselves ignore, is that even the commonly used phrase “Spanish Sahara”, was baseless from a legal point of view.

    After the end of the 1859 Tetouan war, which tilted in favor of Spain, Morocco came under heavy pressure from Spain to cede part of its sovereignty in the south and the north to Madrid.

    As part of the concessions it obtained from the Moroccan government, Spain was granted the permission to establish a trading station in southern Morocco. Since 1860 until the end the 1870’s, the two countries were negotiating over the location of that trading station. Many locations were under consideration, including Agadir and Cap Juby, present day Sidi Ifni. But the spark that would push Spain to lay claim to sovereignty in southern Morocco was when in 1879 an Englishman called Donald McKenzie established a trading station in Cap Juby.

    Immediately after this British attempt to have a foothold in southern Morocco, Spain moved to establish multiple trading stations south of Cap Juby, in present day disputed Saharan territories. To give a legal cover to its presence there, Spain started signing treaties with tribal leaders. In January 1885, at the Berlin Conference, Spain informed European powers that it had acquired sovereignty over the region extending from the Oued Draa to Cab Bojador. European powers acquiesced to Spanish claims of sovereignty based on the assumption that the territory claimed by Madrid was Terra Nullis.

    Meanwhile, immediately after the establishment of the British trading station in Cap Juby, Morocco showed its rejection of such a fact accompli in a part of its territory. After over a decade of negotiations, the two countries signed an agreement in March 1895, in which London recognized Morocco’s sovereignty not only over Cap Juby, but also over the region that was nominally occupied by Spain.

    The agreement signed between Morocco and the UK in 1895 recognized that the territory between Cap Juby (the area near Tarfaya) and Cap Bojador (present day disputed Sahara), belonged to Morocco. From then until 1904, when the UK signed an agreement with France, the British, as well the French and Spaniards recognized that this territory was under Moroccan sovereignty.

    In April 1904, France and the United Kingdom signed an agreement in virtue of which Paris was given free hand in Morocco, in exchange of the renunciation of its claims over Egypt. According to American scholar Frank E. Trout, in his book Moroccan Saharan frontiers the agreement consisted of a public and secret accord. When the UK accepted the principle of French and Spanish protectorate over Morocco, it clearly insisted in article 3 of the secret accord that Spain “could not undertake any action that would alienate the territory of its sphere of influence,” on the understanding that Spain was to be given a sphere of influence in Moroccan’s Saharan territory, rather than full possession of the territory.

    In October 1904, France and Spain singed a convention on the division of their spheres of influence in Morocco. By virtue of the French-Spanish convention of October 1904, Spain was given possession, not sphere of influence, of the disputed territory, without informing Morocco or seeking the approval of the British, who had signed an agreement recognizing its sovereignty over the territory.

    As Professor Frank E. Trout showed, it was unlikely that the Britain gave any formal approval of the recognition that Seguia El Hamra and Oued Eddahab was to become Spanish territory outside of the limits of Spanish sphere of influence in Southern Morocco.

    The author points out that even in the event that Britain have given its formal approval of the 1904 French-Spanish accords, it would have meant a unilateral- and presumably secret- renunciation of the agreement signed with Morocco in 1859, which have been meaningless since Morocco was not informed of the renunciation. This is in itself constituted a blatant violation of international law at the time.

    The French-Spanish agreement of October 1904, by virtue of which Spain was given full possession of the present days so-called Western Sahara, was even contrary to the 1906 Algeciras Conference.The signatories of the Act of Algeciras, including Britain, France, Spain, the United States Belgium, Germany and other European powers, all committed to preserving Moroccan territorial integrity. 

    In this regard, one should bear in mind that European powers were splitting Morocco’s spoils without obtaining its approval or informing it of their colonial designs. This itself proves that the limits of the Moroccan territory were de facto rather than de jure limits, since they were imposed on Morocco. In this regard the Sahara was not any different from the other Spanish protectorate in the kingdom in that it was part of a de facto sphere of influence granted by France, without signing any legal accord with the Moroccan government of the time.

    As Frank E. Trout points out: “To put the matter in its proper focus, it is necessary to view the de jure boundaries as they were originally conceived and at the same time to recognize that these boundaries, or perhaps preferably delimitations lines, were French and Spanish conceptions. Their legal validity stems solely from their acceptance by the Moroccan Government during the protectorate period.”

    But all these facts are overlooked by the editors in their quest to lash out at Morocco and represent it as a colonial power. The intention to distort the facts appears more clearly in the way the editors present the ruling of the International Court of Justice of October 16, 1975, on which the Polisario supporters base their claim on the necessity of organizing a referendum of self-determination in the Sahara.

    Here also, they give an incomplete picture of the facts. To prove that Morocco has no sovereignty over the Sahara, the editors say: “Despite an International Court of Justice ruling stating unequivocally that '… the Court has not found legal ties of such nature as might affect the application of resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization (sic) of Western Sahara,' Morocco entered the territory in 1975.”

    There is no doubt that the ICJ made this pronouncement, but for the sake of objectivity and intellectual honesty, an editor has to present the reader with the whole information regarding the ruling. Yet the court also ruled that the Sahara was not terra nillus and acknowledged the existence of legal ties of allegiance between the Moroccans sultans and some tribes of the Sahara:

    “The materials and information presented to the Court show the existence, at the time of Spanish colonization, of legal ties of allegiance between the Sultan of Morocco and some of the tribes living in the territory of Western Sahara. They equally show the existence of rights, including some rights relating to the land, which constituted legal ties between the Mauritanian entity, as understood by the Court, and the territory of Western Sahara.”

    Based on the facts that I mentioned it appears clearly that the editors’ note is based rather in hearsay and their political convictions rather than on a well documented and painstaking research. What matters to those who defend the Polisario and Algeria’s political agenda is not to present the whole spectrum of historical, political and legal facts of the dispute as much as to present the facts that can help them in their attempts to tarnish Morocco’s image at the international level and portray the Polisario as a legitimate entity. They are fully aware of the lack of information available on this issue and the quasi-absence of an efficient and fact-based Moroccan counter-narrative, and they try to make the best out of it.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    bank robber in Tangier

    Casablanca- Since the bank truck robbery took place in Tangier, the police have multiplied their efforts to capture the suspects who ran away with a huge sum of money after injuring two guards. 

    According to daily Al Massae, the local Police have recently found fingerprints of members representing an international Mafia network, mainly active in Spain, left by the suspects of the truck robbery.

    The same source said that some members of the criminal network were Moroccans. Their work was to smuggle drugs between Morocco and Spain.

    The group is also seemingly involved in a number of robberies and murders both in and outside Morocco.

    According to Al Massae, all police departments in Tangier have now joined efforts in hopes to get their hands on the dispersed suspects.


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