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Morocco News meets the World

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    Marrakech- At the Morocco Oil and Gas Summit press conference held in Marrakech  an event hosted by the Moroccan office for Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) and the international Research Netweork (IRN)— on May7-8tAmina Benkhadra, director of the Moroccan office for Hydrocarbons and Mines, strongly defended ONHYM’s record in supporting the growth of oil and gas exploration and investment in Morocco.

    She said that exploration companies had a 75% share of revenues from oil and gas, and ONHYM as their partner took a 25% share. Benkhadra was joined at the Press Conference by Carl Attallah Vice President and Country Manager of Chevron Morocco Exploration, Mehdi Sajjad President and CEO Gulfsands Corporation and Gerald Lane Finance Director Kosmos Energy.

    It is worth contrasting this with Algeria, which includes a 51% share in Sonatrach’s favor; Libya, under EPSA IV, contributes 80-90% of production. On a global scale, Morocco has the most favorable oil and gas exploration terms. The proof of this liberal policy’s success can be seen in the fact that 34 international oil and gas companies (IOC’s) are now operating in Morocco with 131 exploration licensing permits. The investment growth in the oil and gas sector in 2013 and 2014 has reached 7.4 billion dirhams. This is the fruit of a great deal of work by Amina Benkhadra and ONHYM to spread the word internationally about Morocco’s oil and gas potential. The emergence of new 2-D and 3-D seismic surveys have helped to narrow down exploration fields and highlight promising geographical signs of hydrocarbon systems.

    Mehdi Sajjad was very excited to have signed the agreement for the Moulay Bouchta permit on 28 April 2014; it was part of the Res and Rharb concession. He stressed that Morocco is under-explored and that Gulfsands is in Morocco for the long term. He added that Gulfsands would be drilling three wells as part of the Moulay Bouchta and Fes permits. Moroccan geology exploration is extremely challenging. Gulfsands has had to stop their very successful operations in Syria because of sanctions and the ongoing security situation there. Sajjad and Carl Attallah stressed that exploration is a long-term business and can take years before a discovery becomes commercially successful. Attallah observed that there were no pessimistic explorers, the exploration required time patience, and a lot depends on the capital markets because oil companies are driven by their shareholders. Morocco is the only relatively unexplored region in North Africa.  Oil companies are working in Morocco as part of diversifying their portfolios and spreading the risk worldwide. The Kingdom is attractive because of its stability and good security situation.

    Moroccan journalists questioned—if everyone in the conference was so optimistic—why were there no successful oil discoveries, and why had wells been plugged at Taryfaya and Foum Asaka. Benkhadra explained that these were not withdrawals from Morocco, and that both companies were continuing with their drilling at these locations as per their contracts; indeed, Cairn is already working on another well. Drilling is naturally exploratory, she explained to the Moroccan journalists. She observed that no one had said that exploration would be an easy task, and she reminded the journalists that it took Chevron four years of dry wells before they struck oil in Dammam in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The Ekofisk field in the North Sea was only discovered after 200 wells had been drilled, she pointed out.

    Attallah stressed that all the information gathered during drilling operations was of use in providing more information in helping to narrow down and identify further drilling sites. He and his colleagues also pointed out that in the deep offshore drilling some years ago, 90 feet was considered deep; but now, drilling is going on at 2,000 and 3,000 ft. Before these developments, deep-water drilling was considered irrelevant; now, however, it is the most important exploratory activity. This has changed the possibilities for oil and gas exploration in Morocco, but it remains a challenging business and discoveries are hardly ever made on the first exploratory drilling. The more data acquired, the more it helps to guide the exploration effort.

    Benkhadra said there was no deadline on the exploration efforts, and that discoveries could happen at any time. ONHYM will continue work to encourage more oil and gas companies to invest in Morocco. She urged Moroccan journalists to understand the reality of the long-term exploration process. It is understandable that the journalists were asking about positive results, but this will take time, investment, and effort by the international oil and gas exploration companies.

    Benkhadra also confirmed that Morocco had potential for 50 billion barrels of unconventional oil, including shale oil and gas. But this exploration is just beginning. She stressed how attractive Morocco is for foreign direct investment due to political and social stability, as well as excellent infrastructure and the favorable legislative and fiscal environment.

    Edited by Katrina Bushko

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

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    Paris  - The council of ministers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member states adopted, during its meeting held this week in Paris, the OECD's cooperation program with Morocco.

     In its final statement following the meeting on May 6-7, the ministers welcomed the decision of the OECD to set up programs with the countries of Kazakhstan, Morocco, Peru and Thailand to support their reform efforts, and commended the OECD's regional approach mainly towards the MENA region, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Euro-Asia and south-east Europe.

     This program will enable Morocco to adhere to some legal tools of the OECD and benefit from counseling to support its national reform program, in addition to sharing expertize.

     The Kingdom will also benefit from the multi-dimensional exam which will allow to evaluate Morocco's performances and priorities in terms of growth, sustainability and equality while taking account not only of the achieved results, but also of the influence of the national economy's underlying dynamics.

     The first session of the OECD ministerial meeting was attended by economy minister Mohamed Boussaid and Morocco's ambassador to France Chakib Benmoussa.

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    Moroccan banks

    Taroudant, Morocco- American business magazine Forbes published on Wednesday a new ranking in which it included three Moroccan banks among the most powerful companies in the world.

    Dominated by Chinese and American firms, "Forbes Global 2000" listed three of the most successful Moroccan banks: Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Centrale Populaire and BMCE Bank respectively. The ranking was based on indicators of revenues, profits, assets and market value in the financial market.

    Founded in 1911, Attijariwafa Bank ranks on the top of the three Moroccan banks with $2.79 Billion in sales and 1064th at the global level.

    According to Forbes, Attijariwafa Bank, which employs 7,443 people and generated $2.79 billion in sales, ranks 1176th in terms of profit, 532nd in terms of assets and 1336th in market value.

    Banque Centrale Populaire comes in second position at the Moroccan level, ranking 1840 in the “Global 2000” and 666th position in terms of assets.

    The company, which employs 11,878 people, generated $2.16 billion in sales. BCP was founded on February 2, 1961 and is headquartered in Casablanca.

    The bank of Othman BenJelloun, BMCE, ranked 1998th and 847th in terms of assets. BMCE employs 4,894 people and generated $1.53 billion in sales.


    This year, the Global 2000 is dominated by Asia and China is “home, for the first time, to the world’s three biggest public companies and five of the top 10”.

    The African continent “still has the least Global 2000 members,” with only 26 company listed in the global ranking.

    The Frobes “Global 2000” is a comprehensive list of the world’s largest, most powerful public companies, as measured by revenues, profits, assets and market value.

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

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    Rabat  - The development of bilateral cooperation in the fields of health, occupational health and social security were at the center of a meeting, on Thursday in Rabat, between Minister of employment and social affairs Abdeslam Seddiki and British ambassador to Morocco Clive Alderton.

    During this meeting, Seddiki reviewed efforts made by his department in the field of employment and social security, and the large-scale projects undertaken to improve the quality of social security, the generalization of medical coverage, the promotion of professional relations and the amelioration of working conditions, said on Friday a statement by the ministry.

    The British diplomat hailed the Moroccan achievements in different areas, mainly investment, supporting SMEs and young entrepreneurs and social security.

    Alderton voiced his country's readiness to set up training programs for young entrepreneurs and support their projects.

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    elgium ambasador to morocco

    Rabat  - Morocco has a significant experience in renewable energy, notably the ambitious energy strategy launched in 2009, said, on Friday in Rabat, Belgian Ambassador in Morocco Frank Carruet.

    Morocco is continuing its efforts to reform the energy sector with the setting up of a regulator for the electricity market, the existence of decrees to have access to medium tension and the revision of the compensation mechanism, Carruet said at the opening of a seminar on "the Belgian experience in renewable energy".

    He also welcomed the national legal framework, namely the law 13-09, which allows the producers of renewable source-based electricity to sell directly to clients, who are connected to high and medium tension, and have access to the national electric network.

    Regarding to the Belgian experience in this field, the Belgian ambassador noted that Belgium has an important place on the international scene in the promotion of renewable energy.

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    Female athletes run the streets of Rabat for Women's Victory Race

    Fez- Female runners from around Morocco will head to the capital of Rabat this weekend to participate in the 7th edition of the Women’s Victory Race. The 7-kilometer race will begin at the Avenue of Victory in Rabat and take runners on a course around the city.

    The theme of this year’s race, “Sport is good citizenship,” encourages young women to become involved in their communities and become active citizens through sporting activities.  The annual race is organized by the women’s association called Women, Achievements and Values, founded by Moroccan athlete Nezha Bidouane.

    "Civility is the basis of this serene and peaceful life we all seek, and it belongs to all to work in this direction. It is in everyone's future, " Nezha Bidouane, president of the Women, Achievements and Values association, said at a press conference in Rabat earlier this week.

    The running event aims to raise the awareness of Moroccan women about the importance of sport as a tool for social inclusion and professional development. “It is only in good citizenship and collective intelligence that we can live peacefully and enjoy life, " Bidouane said. The event seeks to motivate girls and women to take part in the national sports movement and contribute to the development of women's sports in Morocco.

    The race has seen an increase in the number of participants every year since the initial event in 2005. More than 20,000 women reportedly took part in last year's race.

    The course is open to women of all athletic levels; participants can choose to run, walk or alternate running and walking depending on their physical means. The event will take place this Sunday, May 11, starting at Bab Tamesna near Avenue Annasr in Rabat at 9:30 am.

    Picture credit: Nezha Bidouane

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

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    SAMIR fire

    Mohammedia - One person died and two others were injured in a fire that broke out on Friday in Morocco's biggest oil refinery SAMIR, which was caused by a gas leak, said local authorities. During a liquefied propane filling operation performed in Samir by two tankers, gas leakage occurred followed by a fire which caused serious burns to a Samir driver and operator who intervened to contain the blaze, the same source, adding that the driver of a parked truck, who tried to rescue his colleague, suffered severe burns that led to his death.

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    Dakhla - The first Africa Women's Forum kicked off Friday in Dakhla with the participation of high-level women leaders from 35 African countries.

    The meeting, organized at the initiative of the Council of the Moroccan Expatriate Community (CCME) and the International Institute for Security and Development, in partnership with the Wilaya of the region of Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira, brings together women ministers, MPs, and councilors from, among others, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritania, Libya, Mali, Madagascar, Senegal, Tanzania and Sierra Leone.

    The event provides an opportunity to discuss leadership issues of women and their contribution to the development of the African continent.

    In a statement to MAP, president of the International Institute for Security and Development, also president of the Foundation of Africa Women's Forum, Naima Korchi, said the Forum will help discuss the experiences of participating countries in terms of women's leadership and their role in the development of the continent, adding that the first edition seeks to look for ways to promote female African leadership in the economic, political and legal fields.

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    foreign ministers

    Rabat - The foreign ministers of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) highlighted, Friday in Rabat, the need to get the Union out of the current impasse, and move forward to fulfill the aspirations the peoples of the region and face the geopolitical, social, economic and security challenges.

    The foreign ministers, meeting as part of the 32th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of AMU, called for ending the deadlock and double efforts to face the current challenges of security and stability, particularly in light of the changes taking place in the countries of the Union.

    Libyan foreign minister, Ahmed Mohamed Abdelaziz, whose country chairs the AMU board, said the profound changes that the region has witnessed are a "glimmer of hope" despite the political and security challenges, expressing his conviction that the aspirations of the peoples of the region to stability and progress will be achieved despite the difficulties. Holding the Maghreb summit before the end of this year will be the realization of a political commitment in order to move towards the revitalization of the Maghreb Union and give an impetus to the democratization process in the region.

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    A Moroccan parliamentarian was arrested January 2nd for allegedly taking a bribe. AFP-Abdelhak Senna

    Taroudant, Morocco - In a stark contradiction with the fiscal austerity advocated by Benkirane’s government, the PJD-led government gave the green light for a monthly MAD 4000 rise in the allowances of 395 MPs, according the Arabic daily Al Akhbar.

    Following the meager increases in the minimum wage, announced by the government before the International Workers Day, the government decided to increase the salary of MPs by allotting a monthly allowance of MAD 4000 for each MP.

    This increase is expected to cost the budget of the House of Representatives nearly MAD 18 million a year.

    The House of Representatives justified  this amount as a means to encourage MPs to attend regularly the Chamber sessions, especially during weekly sessions of oral questions and monthly meetings with the Head of Government.

    The former President of the House of Representative Karim Ghellab had previously proposed an increase in the allowances of the MPs, but the PJD members strongly opposed it. However, now that the Istiqlal member is no longer chairing the House of Representatives, the PJD MPs gave full support to this increase in compensation.

    Absenteeism is very common in Moroccan parliament, and this phenomenon has been denounced in several occasions by the electorate and the public opinion in general, since it hinders seriously the legislative process.

    "It is disheartening to see the Head of the Government increase the allowances of MPs instead of toughening measures to fight against the scourge of absenteeism," Mohammed Benfadil, a Moroccan journalist based in Washington DC told MWN. 

    "What the Moroccan people expect from the government is to alleviate the sufferings of indigent families in remote areas and improve the conditions of the working class, rather than making the rich richer," he added. 

    For his part, Aissam El Hani, an English professor from Al Houceima, in norther Morocco, said that this measure comes to remind Moroccans that the PJD is not different from the other political parties. 

    "I am not surprised to see Benkirane increase the salary of the MPs instead of caring for the poor and the working class. This is a blow to the PJD's credibility and I have always firmly believed that the Islamist party is no different from the other parties," he told MWN. 

    In April 2012, while the RNI, which is now member of the coalition government, was in the ranks of the opposition, as little as 15 of its members out of a total of 50 attended a parliamentary session devoted to the discussion to the government finance bill.

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

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    Tom Hanks Gets Lost in Moroccan Desert (Photo courtesy Aujourd'hui le Maroc)

    Casablanca- Tom Hanks had come to Morocco to shoot scenes for the film “A Hologram for the King”, but the Oscar-winning actor ended up having an unprecedented adventure in the Moroccan desert that he is not likely to forget anytime soon.

    According to Aujourd’hui le Maroc, Hanks recently experienced a real-life version of his “Cast Away.” Hanks got lost in the Moroccan desert, roaming around aimlessly with two of his friends.

    The American actor and his companions then decided to walk to the nearest place where they could make a call. Once there, the three friends realized that there was no network coverage.

    Luckily, the Cast Away star came across a peasant with mules carrying merchandise. Without hesitation, Hanks offered to buy three mules from the peasant. Then the three friends had to go several miles before they were finally in a zone with network coverage.

    The mules Hanks bought may have saved him and his two friends, but once back in the village, Tom Hanks sold his “saviors” to a merchant in exchange for cold drinks.  Could the Cast Away star ever hope for a better adventure than that?

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    king and bouteflika

    New York- As I was reading the news on Saturday morning, I came across an article published by a Moroccan analyst. Mr. Manar Slimi, author of the article, put forth many arguments regarding the question of the "Western Sahara" and relations between Morocco and Algeria. While I have much respect towards Mr. Slimi at the personal level and I often agree with his analyses, this time around I don't agree with his arguments.

    Among the questions raised by Mr. Slimi was an issue that is of critical importance. He said that the Algerians intend to annex the Western Sahara, which remains under dispute between Morocco and the Polisario, and to declare a war on Morocco.

    He also argued that the advance copy of the report of the United Nations Secretary General on the Sahara was more emotional than based on facts, adding that he is deviating from the core mission of the United Nations, which is finding a political solution to the conflict based, according to him, on the Autonomy Plan presented by Morocco to the Security Council in April 2007. In addition, and without providing any evidence he claimed that Algeria spent $300 billion to support the Polisario.

    Why There won’t be a war between Morocco and Algeria

    There are many reasons why I think a direct war won't break out between Morocco and Algeria.

    Firstly, for international geostrategic and security reasons, none of the Western powers would venture to let such a war take a place. In this regard, one has to take into account the strategic importance of the Mediterranean and the Straight of Gibraltar not only for Europe, but also for the rest of the world.

    The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the most important international maritime routes for the transportation of global goods, such as oil, gas and others items. It ranks second in the world after the Strait of Malacca, in Singapore, in terms of the density of maritime traffic, with more than 100,000 vessels a year. One can simply imagine the adverse effects on the global economy of such a war over a matter of limited national and regional scope.

    In addition to this, one has also to take into account the interests of European powers in both Morocco and Algeria. The Europeans, which are dependent on Algerian oil, would not let such war break out between the two countries. Such a scenario would mean a disruption of the supply of gas, which would have serious consequences on the European economy, in addition to the losses that a war would cause to the European companies established in both counties. Moreover, a war between Morocco and Algeria would also exacerbate the issue of Sub-Saharan illegal immigration, and we may witness an avalanche of clandestine embarkations arriving in Europe.

    On the other hand, the era when conflicts were resolved through direct armed fighting between states is a bygone era. Now we are in the era of proxy wars. Even if we admit that Algerians are ready to declare war on Morocco (which would mean the destruction of the two countries), they would most likely opt for a proxy war. In this regard, one has to admit that Algeria has been already in a proxy war against Morocco for the past 40 years.

    The only difference that we would witness if Algerians sought an escalation of the conflict is that they would give the green light to the Polisario to resume their guerrilla war against Morocco. Even this prospect is unlikely, because it would mean that the Polisario would need to disregard the terms of reference of the ceasefire signed between the two countries more than 20 years ago and would put itself at odds with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, which call for the achievement of a political and mutually acceptable solution based on the spirit of compromise.

    The second argument Slimi puts forth, which I don't agree with for objective reasons, is that the Secretary-General of the United Nations deviates from his core mandate of helping Morocco and the Polisario to reach a political solution to the conflict based on the Moroccan autonomy plan.

    While it is true that since 2007 the Security Council has been calling on the parties to negotiate the terms of a political and mutually acceptable solution, it has never said that the Moroccan autonomy plan forms the basis for such a political solution to the “Western Sahara” conflict. This statement by Slimi is a far cry from reality. If this were the case, we would see progress in the negotiations process between the two parties and the Polisario would be obliged to abide by a solution based on this proposal.

    All Security Council resolutions adopted since 2007 describe the Moroccan autonomy plan as "serious" and “realistic" and could provide a basis for a possible political solution. The latest resolution adopted by the Security Council last April 29 (Res. 2152, 2014)) only takes "note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcomes serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution” while “also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General.”

    A researcher or analyst has the moral responsibility to present the readers with the correct facts and make sure not to mislead them, especially when it comes to questions of such strategic importance for the country.

    Another argument that I don't agree with is when the author mentions the cases of Liberia and South Sudan as unstable countries to advance the argument that the UN should not establish a human rights mechanism in the Sahara, because Morocco is a stable country as opposed to those countries.

    These two missions (The United Nations Mission in Liberia and the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan) are among UN mission that do not include a human rights monitoring mechanism. Rather than using the argument of stability versus instability, one should use the argument of the absence of such a mechanism in Liberia and South Sudan to counter the argument of those who claim that the MINURSO is the only UN mission that is not provided with such a human rights mechanism.

    The other argument that I disagree with is when the author said that the Polisario is preparing to annex the Sahara to Algeria. I don't know on what basis one can arrive to such a conclusion, and for objective reasons, such a scenario is highly unlikely.

    In the event Algerians ventured to annex the Sahara, that would not only constitute a casus belli with Morocco, but also push the Security Council to be seized of the matter. The action of Algeria would threaten the territorial integrity of a UN member state, constituting a violation of the UN Charter. In this scenario, Algeria would be exposed to sanctions under chapter VII of the United Nations.

    Need to elevate the debate and come up with useful solution

    I believe that these kinds of arguments won't advance the position of Morocco at the international level nor help it convince the international public opinion of the righteousness of its position. These sort of arguments are meant simply to quench the thirst of a certain category of readers who want only to hear that everything is going well for Morocco and the situation with regards to the “Western Sahara” is favorable to its interests.

    What Moroccans need to know once and for all, is that there is sizable proportion of the international public that is hostile to Morocco's position regarding the “Western Sahara.” Most people who favor the Polisario don't do it because they necessarily are convinced of the Polisario’s legitimacy, but because Moroccans have not been doing their job at the grassroots level to garner support for their country's position.

    What Morocco is in dire need of are strategies that would counter the narrative of the Polisario, win back the support of international public opinion, and switch the debate over the conflict from the politicized question of human rights to the necessity of putting an end to the conflict based on the spirit of give-and-take.

    In order to be able to come up with the right recipe to achieve progress towards solving the conflict on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy proposal, Moroccan officials have to take the bull by the horns and admit that so far the strategies they have adopted have not succeeded in convincing the international community of the seriousness of its proposal. One should not be lured by Morocco’s success in avoiding the inclusion of human rights in the mandate of the MINURSO, for this question will be used over and over again by the Polisario and Algeria in the coming months.

    Once Moroccan officials admit that they need to reconsider their strategy, they would be able to identify what has gone wrong and put in place the needed measures to fix it.

    On the other hand, we can't keep placing the blame on others. The Secretary General is not to blame for his report. His job is to report to the Security Council on the situation on the ground from the perspective of the UN team in charge of drafting the report. Furthermore, the UN perspective is also influenced by the perspective of the most influential human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which give a dark picture of the situation of human rights in the Western Sahara and Morocco in general.

    As Mr. Hassan Massiki, a former spokesman for Amnesty International in the USA, puts it in one of his articles: "Moroccan diplomats’ inability to reach-out to NGO’s interested in human rights in the Western Sahara remains a weakness. Moroccan embassies’ lack of officers familiar with human rights organizations, international humanitarian law and local civic bodies is hurting Rabat efforts to explain the ‘Local Autonomy Plan for the Sahara’”.

    As stated by Massiki, what Morocco needs are strategists and skilled diplomats who know the jargon of these organizations and a "solid public relations strategy to counter and mend its bad image among international rights group."

    Putting the right people in the right positions and devising a winning strategy that would tilt the equation in favor of Morocco would do more good to Morocco than any unfounded prophecy destined for domestic use. In this regard, the appointment of Ambassador Omar Hilal as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York is a move in the right direction.

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

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    Moroccan Court

    Casablanca- The Royal Gendarmerie in El Ksiba, in the Ben Slimane region, recently arrested a man 51 years after he had murdered his wife.

    According to daily Aujourd’hui Le Maroc, the fugitive was on the run for 51 years after killing his wife in 1963.

    The fugitive allegedly murdered his wife because she had refused to share the same bed with him. He then vanished without leaving the slightest trace behind him.

    He was 21 when he committed the crime in Mzoura village, according to Aujourd’hui Le Maroc. He subsequently left Mzoura village to take refuge in different villages in Zerhoune and El Hajeb before finally settling in the city of Beni Mellal.

    The suspect returned to his birth village after 51 years of self-exile. No one suspected him as he had left the village as a young man. However, his crime resurfaced when he attempted to renew his administrative documents. He is 72 years old now.

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

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    moroccan soldiers

    Brussels - An official tribute was paid on Sunday to Moroccan soldiers who died while fighting for the liberation of Belgium in 1940, on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Gembloux battle.

    Ceremonies were held in the "Aymex memorial" in Gembloux (40 km south of Brussels) and at the Chastres necropolis where were buried hundreds of Moroccan soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for the liberation of Europe from the yoke of Nazism.

    ''It is our duty to acknowledge the sacrifice of these heroes who came from far away to defend a nation that is not theirs", said speaker of the Belgian House of Representatives Andre Flahaut.

    "The duty of memory is necessary if we are to confront the emergence of extremism and nationalist ideas everywhere in Europe and worldwide", said the Belgian official.

    ''If we are today paying a moved, official and earnest tribute to these soldiers who lost their life in the fight against Nazi invaders, it is because we are feeling, as free men, eternal recognition for their sacrifice", said the mayor of Gembloux, Benoit Dispa.

    For Morocco's high commissioner of former resisters and members of the liberation army, El Mostafa El Ktiri, this commemoration is an opportunity to highlight the duty of memory toward these Moroccan solders who sacrificed their life for the ideals of dignity, freedom and the right to existence, transmit these lofty values to young generations and disseminate this shared memory between Morocco and other nations.

    Some 233 Moroccan soldiers have died in the battle of Gembloux-Chastre, where the French army took its only victory in the campaign of May 1940 and the first battle of tanks in the world military history.

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    LH Aviation, Christophe Rémy

    Paris  - Morocco is an " interesting destination to settle in," said president of French aircraft manufacturer LH Aviation, Christophe Rémy, noting that the combination of a number of factors have led to the establishment of a factory in the Kingdom.

    These factors include the development of an industrial and aerospace base, and the establishment of a training school for skilled technicians and mechanics, he said in an interview published Monday on the website of French weekly "L'Usine Nouvelle".

    Rémy said the aircraft manufacturer has "received excellent welcome by the Moroccan government," which has at its disposal the necessary resources to manage the establishment of the factory, including tax exemptions.

    The plant, which will be located near the airport of Casablanca, will cover an area of ??5000 m², he noted.

    The production capacity of the first phase, within 3 to 4 years, will reach 80 aircrafts per year, and is expected to double in the second phase

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    Sahara Conflict

    Bogota  - The Colombian Senate did not adopt any resolution on the “Western Sahara” issue, said a Colombian parliamentary source, according to Maghreb Arab Press.

    The agenda of the Senate did not include any point on this issue, said the same source, adding that it was rather a proposal, which did not lead to any action, and which was introduced to the Senate office by a group of leftist pro-separatist Senators.

    This clarification seeks to refute the information circulated by several pro-separatist media outlets which claimed that the Colombian Senate adopted a resolution asking the Colombian president and government to recognize the so-called 'SADR'.

    The same source noted that no "Colombian-Sahrawi friendship group" has been created within the Colombian Senate.

    MWN with MAP

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    Fatima Khouchoua, a Moroccan civil society activist was nominated for the humanitarian of the year

    London- Moroccan grassroots activist, Fatima Khouchoua won the humanitarian of the year award in Africa given by British NGO "Women 4 Africa".

    Khouchoua, founder of "Giving Chances", an NGO which supports education projects in Morocco, was nominated along with three other African activists (two from Nigeria and one from Sierra Leone).

    According to "Women 4 Africa", the Moroccan candidate has led significant projects and efforts to increase enrollment and reading in schools in disadvantaged areas

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    King Mohammed VI launches building works of Institute for Religious Scholars Training

    Rabat- King Mohammed VI launched, on Monday in Rabat, the building works of the Mohammed VI Institute for Imams, Murshidines and Murshidates (preachers) Training.

    Worth 140 million dirhams, the future facility, meant to welcome Moroccan, African and Arab students, is part of the implementation of a strategy seeking to instill Islam's values into next generations of Imams (religious scholars), Murshidines and Murshidates (preachers) in order to shield Morocco against extremism, safeguard its identity marked by balance, openness and tolerance and reinforce its religious influence.

    This integrated, comprehensive and multidimensional strategy relies on three bases namely the institutional pillar which concerns efficient supervision, healthy Islamic education and modern scientific training.

    The new institute will contribute, through training programs, to strengthening the Kingdom's spiritual and religious immutable values, mainly the Ashaarit dogma, the Malekite rite and the Sunni Sufism which are shared Islamic precepts in several Western African countries.

    The Mohammed VI Institute for Imams, Murshidines and Murshidates Training, to be built over a surface area of 28,687 square meters, will comprise a pedagogical and administrative department, a housing and catering department and a socio-sports department.

    In addition to its role in preserving Morocco's spiritual security and the Malekite rite's unity, the future institute will foster Morocco's partnership with Western African countries following HM the King's decision to respond favorably to demands of providing training in Morocco for imams and preachers from these countries.

    Thanks to its pedagogical and administrative staff, the facility will also provide training for Arab and African imams mainly from Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Guinea, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire and the Maldives.

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    Algerian officer explains why he decided to seek political asylum in Morocco

    By Majid Morceli

    San Francisco- On the surface, we are brothers and sisters: we have a common culture, language, traditions, religion, history of colonization, and sooner or later, a common future. We are so similar that anyone examining our two countries would think that Morocco and Algeria are one nation.

    But sadly, that is sadly not the case. We are very separate, and impressions are deceiving. As far as I know, Algerians have an extreme hate for Moroccans. It is not something you can detect immediately when Moroccans and Algerians meet in person, but as soon as we find ourselves reading what Algerians write about Moroccans, they show their true color. Their comments and writings about Moroccans are so heinous, hateful, and hurtful that the reader would think that the intended receivers of their insults are the Jews that Algerians love to hate.

    As a matter of fact, Algerians never shied away from comparing Morocco to the state of Israel; there is not a day that goes by that the Algerian media takes a break from bashing Moroccans. Algerian media outlets have never written or said a good (or simply truthful) thing about Moroccans, and the so-called independent media in Algeria is just as horrific when it comes to attacking Morocco. 

    They feed Algerian readers lies and fallacies about Moroccans, and their favorite propaganda is that Morocco is an expansionist neighbor and will not hesitate to invade Algeria. They also say that Morocco is at the command of France and Israel, that we are drug dealers, that Moroccan women are prostitutes, that our country thrives on sex tourism, and that the latest freeing of a Spanish pedophile is a just one example of the many things that they say are wrong with Moroccans.

    On the other hand, Moroccans are not sitting with their arms crossed at the receiving end of the vicious attacks by Algerians: they respond as viciously, but rarely attack Algerian citizens and their dignity. Their main targets are the invisible generals running Algeria behind the scenes. They have figured out that these generals are the ones fueling the cold war between Morocco and Algeria. After all, they are the ones who are controlling every aspect of Algerian life, feeding their people lies, and giving them false sense of pride.

    Right when we lose hope and witness that the majority of Algerians in online forums insult everything is Moroccan, there is always a ray of hope when you see a very small minority of Algerians trying to educate their compatriots. They preach about not hiding their own misery by going after Moroccans and pointing to all the ills of Algeria—a police state run by a ruthless military regime who has not hesitated to return to power a president who will unconsciously run the country from his wheelchair.

    Unlike our neighbors, Moroccans will not be hurtful toward the everyday Algerian and do not hold grudges. The majority of Algerians who have visited Morocco will attest to this fact. Unfortunately, we cannot claim the same thing when describing our brothers in Algeria. Let us remember that it is Algeria who went as far as expelling Moroccans and taking away their property—a fact that Algeria continue to deny to this day, and Morocco does not like to talk about.

    Glancing at some of the comments from Algerians in their media regarding the latest meeting of the Maghreb Arab Union (UMA) that took place in Morocco, the extreme majority of Algerian commentators could not help themselves with name-calling, insulting, and even giving advice to their government on how to deal with Morocco. According to many of them, the obvious advice is to never open the border, expel Morocco from the UMA, and replace it with the Western Sahara.

    Many try to disregard these comments and treat them as harmless nonsense, but we should not. If anything, it clearly shows the Algerian psych, who we are dealing with, and to what extreme Algerians are willing to go to defeat their number one obsession: Morocco.

    A fifty-year old conflict with no end in sight and incessant hate is not something Moroccans should simply discard: it is something to at least keep in mind. Next time you hear an Algerian—or a Moroccan, for that matter—say that we are brothers and sisters, just think about it for a moment: are we?

    Edited by Katrina Bushko

    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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    Unemployment in Morocco

    Casablanca- The alarming statistics revealed by the High Commission for Planning (HCP) last week on the rate of unemployment in Morocco have incited Moroccans’ pessimism about the future of employment in the kingdom.

    Nearly 114,000 Moroccans have joined the camp of jobless citizens and around 10,000 jobs were lost, according to the HCP. A report recently revealed by the same institution has shown Moroccans’ impressions of this rise in unemployment rate.

    The bulk of Moroccan families have pessimistic speculations for the future of employment in the country. More than 77 percent of Moroccan families now predict that the unemployment rate will rise further in the next 12 months, compared to 75 percent last quarter.

    Based on HCP’s statistics, Moroccans have also expressed an increasing pessimism toward the development of living conditions in the kingdom. Compared to 2013, Moroccans are 6.4 percent less optimistic about the development of living standards in Morocco.

    Moroccans’ negative view about the future is also clear in their predictions for the development of financial conditions. Only 57 percent of Moroccan families say that their incomes entirely cover their expenses, whereas more than 37 percent say that they mostly spend their incomes and eventually have to borrow money to cover their expenses. Only 5.8 percent of Moroccan families say they are able to save a portion of their incomes.

    As for the purchasing of durable goods, the majority of Moroccans (54 percent) said that current financial conditions did not allow them to purchase durable goods, whereas 22.4 percent said they could.

    Former governmental decisions to raise the prices of some vital goods possibly played a part in amplifying Moroccans’ pessimism about the development of living standards in the kingdom. More than 90 percent of Moroccan families said the price of vital products increased significantly.

    Edited by Liz Yaslik

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