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03 Nov 2008 - 02 Nov 2021
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Fundamental information for understanding the state of political reform in Morocco
[Aug 5 9:32am EST]
“The theory is good, but perhaps 20% is useful. The programs are a bit pre-formatted.” This is quote from a Moroccan politician pretty much sums up the dark side democracy assistance these days. Check out Anna Khakee’s new piece for FRIDE for the full assessment of democracy assistance programs in Morocco. Also, here is another critical look by Khakee of the EU approach to reforming the Moroccan Justice system.

[May 20 3:49pm EST]
I’ve been on a different planet for the past few months but I’m back with some great links on patronage and politics (these two words should always go together in Morocco-and most countries, for that matter). Check out Si Maati’s latest piece on the USFP as well as a new report by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy assessing opportunities for engaging political actors for reform in Egypt, Morocco and Iran. Transparency International has a bland yet informative report on good governance in the Middle East. And, if you are thinking of running a country club bar through a made-up NGO receiving local government funds, think again! The Moroccan Cour des Comptes is on your trail!

[Feb 8 2:07pm EST]
The clamor over the closure of Le Journal continues amidst an environment in which the parameters of free speech within the kingdom seem to be shrinking daily. Just days after Le Journal’s offices were shut down, a blogger was arrested for organizing a bloggers’ strike. All of this on the heels of a critical Human Rights Watch report that the Moroccan government has been handicapped to rebut. It is telling that the cover story of Le Journal’s final issue focused on the failure of Moroccan diplomacy to foresee the fallout over the public diplomacy debacle that was the Aminatou Haidar Affair. It concluded that Morocco’s expensive image management could not substitute for diplomacy; that nominal improvements in women’s rights could no longer convince Hillary Clinton to overlook human rights violations in the Western Sahara or mounting attacks against the independent press. This latest chain of events puts a dent in Morocco’s reputation on the world stage, stalling the momentum of Morocco’s most important foreign policy objective (its autonomy plan for the Western Sahara). As one analyst points out, these mounting cases of repression embolden Morocco’s main opponents—the Algeria-backed POLISARIO separatist movement. The fact that Moroccan officials do not recognize that safeguarding gains made in the most basic human rights—freedom of expression and organization—is in their national interest is testament to the growing insecurity and knee-jerk repressive comportment of the makhzen. A new and invigorated image management campaign should be predicated on a commitment to human rights, not constructing Potemkin villages.

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James Liddell, Morocco editor
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Morocco: Crackdown on Media Outlets Expands
[Nov 18] Maati Monjib, a Moroccan political analyst, has a new article in the Carnegie Endowment’s Arab Reform Bulletin on the Moroccan government’s recent crackdown on independent…
“Islamic Feminism and Beyond”
[Nov 15] The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Middle East Program released a new paper (pdf) today, titled “Islamic Feminism and Beyond: The New…
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Political Parties and Participation
Morocco: The Emergence of a New Palace Party
Carnegie Middle East Center, July 2008
Modern Politics or the Politics of Modernity?
Arab Reform Bulletin, December 2008
Morocco: MAD about Renewal or Reform?
Arab Reform Bulletin, June 2008
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Human Rights
Morocco: Narco-Traffic Whistleblower Unfairly Sentenced
Human Rights Watch, June 2009
Human Rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf Refugee Camps
Human Rights Watch, December 2008
Morocco Country Page
Freedom House
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Electoral Reform with Public Relations Value
Arab Reform Bulletin, June 2009
Morocco: Local Elections Bring Victory to Vote-Buyers and a Royal Friend
Brookings Institution, June 2009
Morocco’s Municipal Elections: Some Positive Signs, but Fundamental Concerns Remain
Project on Middle East Democracy, June 2009
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Press Freedom
Journalists interrogated over article on Moroccan king
CPJ, September 2009
Morocco: Drop Criminal Charges Against Rights Defender, Journalist
Human Rights Watch, July 2008
The Moroccan Facade
Committee to Protect Journalists, July 2007
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Political Institutions
Incumbent Regimes and the “King’s Dilemma” in the Arab World: Promise and Threat of Managed Reform
Carnegie Endowment, December 2007
Morocco: Pluralism without Power?
Democracy Digest, May 2007
Rethinking the Moroccan Parliament: The Kingdom's Legislative Development Imperative
Journal of North African Studies, March 2007
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For an overview of U.S. legislation relating to political reform in Morocco, see the Congressional Policy and Foreign Assistance section of the Morocco backgrounder
H.R. 2764 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 (Summary | Full Text | POMED Analysis)
H.R. 2601 [109th]: Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007
(Summary | Full Text)
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Congressional Hearings
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Honorary Co-Hosts Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Co-Chairs, Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press hosted a presentation and discussion by journalist Aboubakr Jamai (POMED Summary)
Assistance Programs

Millenium Challenge Corporation
Morocco Country Page
USAID Democracy and Governance Programs
Morocco Country Page
MEPI in Morocco
The Middle East Partnership Initiative regional website
Public Statements
Morocco: Incoherent Institutions and Systems
Writing at bitterlemons-international.org, Anouar Boukhars argues that Morocco and other Arab nations, “…purposefully perpetuate the political incongruence and economic ‘dissonance’ that is at the root of their failure…”. According to Boukhars, this “incongruence” has manifested itself in the Algerian and Moroccan positions regarding the Western Sahara. “Algeria’s policy has been stuck in perpetual tension between the military and the civilian branches of the government…”, with the civilian branch supporting compromise with Morocco and the military supporting Western Sahara’s claims of independence.  Even Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has changed positions on the issue in recent years. Morocco itself has also sent mixed messages regarding the territory, with Boukhars noting, “One historical figure in the region, who strongly supports the ‘Moroccaness” of Western Sahara, bluntly criticized what he termed the government’s ‘mischievous policy.’  Such actions, he said, only heighten mistrust of Morocco’s intentions and, unfortunately, undermine its credible autonomy proposal.” 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Remarks before meeting with Morocco Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri, 4/09/09: “Well, it’s wonderful to welcome Minister Fihri here today on behalf of Morocco. We are so committed to our relationship and have very high regard for the extraordinary progress that has taken place in Morocco over the last years, and we look forward to deepening and strengthening our relationship.”
U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Riley, Statement on 2007 Human Rights Report, 3/11/08: “The U.S. Government vigorously promotes the cause of human rights as a core component of our foreign policy.  This is based on a belief that a democratic system that includes free and fair elections; accountable and representative government institutions; and vibrant, independent civil society, political parties, NGOS, and free media, is the best guarantor of human rights.  In Morocco, we see progress and a will to promote democratic change and respect for human rights, but Morocco still faces challenges in traveling the path of reform.”
“Morocco took a courageous step in promoting electoral transparency by allowing domestic and international observation of the 2007 parliamentary elections.  In the United Nations and internationally, Morocco is recognized for its promotion of respect for human rights.”
State Department Statement Congratulating Morocco for Free and Fare Elections, 9/10/07:  “Reports indicate the elections met international standards. We see the elections as another step forward for Morocco and we support the Moroccan people as they build a more democratic, representative government.”
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes, Press Conference at Sidi Moumen Sports Complex in Casablanca, Morocco, 6/04/06: Comments on Morocco’s progresss in reforms and the strength of the U.S.-Morocco relationship. “Morocco has been at the forefront of a number of democratic reforms in the region. Whether it be from the reforms that the King is implementing, to reforms in granting greater rights for women, so Morocco I think has a real leadership role to play throughout the Arab and wider Islamic world. Morocco and my country also have a very special partnership. And as I just reminded the young women here, Morocco was the very first country to recognize my country. So I am happy to be here. And to celebrate our long friendship as we continue to learn from each other.”
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Speaking at an Event Marking the Release of Prisoners ofthe Western Sahara Conflict in Tetouan, Morocco, 8/19/05: ”Morocco is a model of reform in the region. The passage last year of the new family code that protects the rights of women was not just a landmark event for Morocco, but a shining example of government-led reform supported by civil society for all countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. The United States looks to Morocco as a reform leader in the region. Reform will secure longterm stability and prosperity in the region and remains a priority for the United States and all of the members of the G-8.”
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POMED Country Backgrounder Series: Morocco
Carnegie Endowment: Baseline Information and Reforms
Freedom House Morocco Country Page
Other Reports and Publications
Capitalizing on the Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement: A Road Map for Success
Peterson Institute for International Economics, September 2009
Reform in the Arab World: The Experience of Morocco
Mediterranean Politics, Volume 14 Issue 2 2009
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI: 10 Years and Counting
The Brookings Institution, August 2009
The United States, Morocco and the Western Sahara Dispute
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2009
Why the Maghreb Matters
Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and SAIS Conflinct Management Program, March 2009
Trade, security and neoliberal politics: whither Arab reform? Evidence from the Moroccan case
Journal of North African Studies, March 2009
Islamist moderation without democratization: the coming of age of the Moroccan Party of Justice and Development?
Democratization, February 2009
Islamism and Family Law Reform in Morocco and Jordan
Mediterranean Politics, November 2008
Pragmatism Rather than Backlash: Moroccan Perceptions of Western Democracy Promotion
EuroMeSCo, November 2008
Party for Justice and Development in Morocco: Participation and Its Discontents
Carnegie Endowment, July 2008
Find Your Voice: A Cross-Cultural Forum on Political Participation and Civic Activism
Project on Middle East Democracy, April 2008
How Serious is the EU About Supporting Democracy and Human Rights in Morocco?
FRIDE, March 2008
Morocco: Negotiating Change with the Makhzen
FRIDE, February 2008
Youth Exclusion in Morocco: Context, Consequences, and Policies
Middle East Youth Initiative, December 2007
Authoritarian King and Democratic Islamists in Morocco
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and USIP, November 2007
The Myth of Moroccan Democracy
The American Prospect, September 2007
Can Morocco’s Islamists check al-Qaida?
Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2007
Challenges to U.S. Democracy Promotion in Morocco: the Credibility Deficit
POMED Newsletter, February 2007
European Neighbourhood Partnership Strategy Paper
Morocco, 2007-2013
Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons From Morocco
Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2006
Between Integration and Repression: Government Responses to Islamism in the Maghreb
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), December 2005
Morocco: Current Issues
Congressional Research Service, January 2005
Official Name: The Kingdom of Morocco
Government: Constitutional Monarchy with Bicameral Legislature (325 seats, lower house; 270 seats, upper house)
Population: 34 million (2008), 99% Arab-Berber Muslim
GDP per capita: $2360
More Basic Info »
Constitution: Morocco Constitution
Political Parties and Organizations
Istiqlal (PI)
Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP)
Constitutional Union (UC)
National Rally of Independents (RNI)
Party for Progress and Socialism (PPS)
Popular Movement (MP)
Justice and Development Party (PJD)
Justice and Charity Movement
Domestic Media
Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) (English, French, Arabic)
Official government press agency
Le Matin (French)
Palace-oriented daily
Al Massae (Arabic)
Leading independent daily
TelQuel (French)
Independent weekly
L'Economiste (French)
Independent daily
La Vie Eco (French)
Independent weekly
Assabah (Arabic)
Independent daily
Al Ahdath Al Maghribiya (Arabic)
Independent daily
Maghrebia (English, French, and Arabic)
News website sponsored by U.S. Africa Command
Le Journal Hebdomadaire (French)
Independent weekly
Human and Civil Rights Organizations
Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH)
Consultative Council on Human Rights (CCDH)
Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (OMDH)
PJD Youth Forum (Arabic)
Islamist blog
Yabiladi (French)
Moroccan Discussion Forum
"Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer" by Larbi (French)
French-Moroccan commentator
Laila Lalami (English)
Moroccan novelist and commentator
Ibn Kafka's Obiter Dicta (English)
Moroccan commentator on Morocco and MENA
Hespress (Arabic)
on-line newspaper blog
USFP Forum (French)
Socialist Party Blog
Al Jamaa (Arabic)
Justice and Charity Movement Blog
Maghreb Politics Review (English)
New regional politics blog
Morocco Board (English)
Moroccan-American news
marocinfos (French)
Morocco news by Hassan
Jillian York (English)
Commentator who frequently writes on Morocco
Global Voices (English)
Morocco page
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