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Morocco Largest Arab Exporter to Brazil in January

Morocco Largest Arab Exporter to Brazil in January
Morocco Largest Arab Exporter to Brazil in January

Rabat – In January 2021, Morocco exported $100 million of goods to Brazil, making the country the top Arab exporter to the country .

According to data from the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), Morocco had the most sales,  claimed Brazil. 

Morocco’s exports to Brazil were up by 95.5%.

Moroccan exports to Brazil with the most growth  were fertilizers (118.3%), inorganic chemicals (137.9%), and seafood (44.2%).

Morocco and Brazil share good trade cooperation.

In 2020, Moroccan exports to Brazil reached $1.2 billion, making Brazil the third largest customer after France and Spain.

Brazil’s trade with all Arab countries climbed by 17.3% in January compared to the previous year.

Arab countries trade with Brazil totaled $1.22 billion in January, according to data from ABCC.

Brazil’s revenue from exports to the Arab countries also rose to $891.85 million, representing a 7.4% increase.

Brazil’s trade surplus however, dropped 9.2% in comparison to 2019.

The change is due to the increased exports from other Arab countries.

Brazil and Morocco vowed to continue to boost cooperation in different industries.

In 2020, experts from the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX-Brazil), and the Arab Brazilian commerce chamber explored opportunities in Morocco’s health sector.

The experts spoke about Morocco’s assets during a webinar, showing Morocco as among the five leading Arab importers of Brazilian healthcare products.

Brazil has also a remarkable number of Moroccan residents.

Last year, the commerce chamber said that Moroccans represent 6% of the Arab community established in Brazil.

The total number of Moroccans in the country is as many as 696,600 people.

Tebboune: ‘97% of Fake News’ About Algeria Comes From Morocco

Tebboune: ‘97% of Fake News’ About Algeria Comes From Morocco
Algeria’s obsession with passing the blame is a sign of a desperate, impotent government vying for international sympathy.

Rabat – As the rift between Morocco and Algeria keeps growing, Algerian president Abdelmajid Tebboune assured that “97% of fake news” about Algeria comes from Moroccan and Israeli sources.

In an interview with Algerian television on March 1, besides complaining about the alleged Moroccan media campaign, Tebboune proclaimed that he “will not abandon the question of Western Sahara.” As unrest continues to swell at home, instead of pacifying the dissatisfied citizens, Tebboune chooses to intensify the blame game.

“I went through a very critical time and there were those who were spreading rumors about my condition. But we know where it comes from,” he noted. Tebboune stressed that “97% of these fake news [about Algeria] come from abroad”.

”You know where they come from,” the president proclaimed. “It is especially after the two [countries] have reconnected,” referring to Morocco and Israel, that the misinformation campaign has intensified, Tebboune insisted.

The false narratives, media warfare, passing the blame onto outside forces, are all moves of a desperate, impotent government in the throes of collapse, vying for international sympathy.

Read also: Algerian Politician: Maghreb Union Should Not Include Morocco

Tebboune’s speech comes at a time of growing international scrutiny. Algeria’s transparent attempts to challenge Moroccan territorial integrity have all but fallen apart. Despite their take on “fake news,” Morocco continues to come out on top in this optics dispute.

On February 24 Morocco sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the member states of the UN Security Council debunking the false allegations against Morocco that Algeria and the Polisario Front promote.

Beyond the inept attempts at media warfare, on March 1, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council established Algeria’s responsibility for the human rights violations in the Tindouf camps. 

Algerian authorities were questioned over the suppression, torture, and kidnapping of the opposition supporters in the camps.

Despite the scrutiny, the Algerian president still praised the “role of Algeria in the Sahel region,” while also presenting his country as ”a striking power in Africa.”

“Our army is strong, and we will maintain our strategic expansion in Africa or elsewhere,” he continued. “Algeria is currently working to restore its strength and its pioneering role at the regional level while respecting the sovereignty of others without giving up its sovereignty and its positions,” the president concluded.

Moroccan Novelists Among Nominees for International Arabic Fiction Award

Moroccan Novelists Among Nominees for International Arabic Fiction Award
Moroccan Novelists Among Nominees for International Arabic Fiction Award

Rabat – The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) published the 2021 longlist containing16 authors. Among them are two Moroccan novelists, Abdelmeguid Sabata and Youssef Fadel. 

The IPAF 2021 longlist is diverse in both the selection of countries and ages. 

The novels listed cover a multitude of issues relevant to the Arab world. The newly announced longlist includes two Moroccan novels, out of 16 potential winners. 

Youssef Fadel is a 72-year old award-winning Moroccan author, with a career spanning over five decades. Having written many novels and plays with strong political themes, Fadel’s work is considered a major contribution to the Moroccan literary scene. 

Fadel is listed for his novel The life of Butterflies, in which he explores fictitious accounts set in the midst of a major Moroccan historical event, the failed 1972 coup attempt.

Having lived through the years in question, the subject matter is a consistent theme in his previous work. 

Abdelmeguid Sabata is one of the youngest writers on the list at 32 years old. He is a celebrated author, having won the Moroccan Book Award in 2018 for his novel The Zero Hour.

Sabata is listed for his novel File 42, a crime-thriller novel that alternates between two parallel storylines, merging American and Moroccan characters within its plot.

The UAE’s Department of Culture and Tourism is financing the IPAF, which will award a $10,000 to the shortlisted authors and a $50,000 award for the winner. 

In 2020, Moroccan authors were also nominated for the IPAF longlist. 

Hassan Aourid, a politician, writer, and professor of political science at Mohammed V University, was on the longlist for his novel Al-Mutanabbi’s Rabat. A brilliant piece of fiction that dissects the modern ailments of the Arab world by reimagining Al-Mutanabbi in a modern day post Arab Spring Rabat. 

2020’s winner was Abdelouhab Aissaoui, an Algerian writer, for his novel The Spartan Court

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction, delivered by the Booker prize foundation, is the most prestigious accolade in the Arab literary world. 

Cannabis Legalization: Algerian Media Attack Morocco

Cannabis Legalization: Algerian Media Attack Morocco
Cannabis Legalization: Algerian Media Attack Morocco

Rabat – Algeria is using the recent debate on Morocco’s potential legalization of cannabis for therapeutic use to attack Rabat.

Algerian media are heavily reporting on the bill, including Rabat’s internal affair in their hostile campaign against Morocco.

Radio Algerienne published recently a hostile article attacking Morocco and accusing it of attempting to cover up the economic crisis with the cannabis bill.

The radio claimed that Morocco’s cannabis legalization debate is an attempt by the Moroccan political class to distract public attention away from the country’s profound political and socio-economic crises.

“The government has found no way out, apart from adopting a business that it sees to legalize to silence the voices demanding to live in dignity,” the radio reported.

Radio Algerienne also accused Morocco of being the first supplier of cannabis to Algeria.

Morocco’s Council of Ministers discussed a draft bill on the potential legalization of cannabis therapeutic use on Thursday last week.

The government office said that more discussion on the bill will take place in the coming weeks.

The government also said it will approve the bill when discussions are completed.

Read Also: Cannabis Legalization Bill: Morocco to Resume Discussion Thursday

The draft bill proposes to build a legal cannabis industry by organizing cannabis farmers into “cooperatives” which in turn would sell their crop to local or international “processing” companies. 

It remains to be seen whether the government will adopt the bill next week or postpone the approval process.

This is not the first time Algeria accuses Morocco of drug-related crimes.

Former Algerian foreign minister Abdelkader Messahel once accused Morocco of “laundering drug money in sub-Saharan Africa,” dismissing Rabat’s increasing assertiveness in African geopolitics.

“Moroccan banks are being used in laundering the revenues from the sales of hashish [weed]. Everybody knows that,” the former FM claimed.

Meanwhile, Algerian media have hardly ever covered the major seizures of psychotropic pills trafficked from Algeria to Morocco.

In 2017, Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) announced that seizures of psychotropic pills from Algeria had increased notably in recent years.

DGSN said that 808,022 psychotropic pills were confiscated in 2016, compared to 260,152 in 2015 and 293,282 in 2014.

Read Also: Online Community Applauds Morocco for Cannabis Legalization

For years, Algeria has been launching hostile PR campaigns against Morocco, from pro-Polisario lobbying in the EU and the US to unfounded allegations about Morocco’s “mischievous” ambitions in Africa . 

Most recently, the Algerian regime vehemently attacked Morocco for its decision to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

Many Algerian officials attacked Morocco after news broke of Rabat-Tel Aviv rapprochement. 

Algeria’s Minister of Communication and Spokesperson of the Government, Ammar Belhimer, publicly attacked Morocco and Israel by saying that the agreement between the two countries is a threat for the MENA region.

Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad agreed. Commenting on the Morocco-Israel  agreement, Djerad said in December: “The Zionist entity has arrived.” 

Nasser Boukadoum, Algeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister also viciously attacked Morocco for supposedly agreeing to a relationship aimed at colonizing the MENA in general and Algeria in particular.  Algeria  has never been “shaken by colonialism and will not be shaken by zionists and whoever allies with them,” he said.

Amid internal crisis and heavy criticism from the international community, Algeria continues to report on Morocco and its internal affairs.

More Than 10,000 Irregular Moroccan Minors Reside in Spain

More Than 10,000 Irregular Moroccan Minors Reside in Spain
Moroccan children, aged under 19, make up about 7% of the total of 147,000 minors identified in the Iberian Peninsula.(Photo credit: Save The Children)

Rabat – There are more than 10,000 Moroccan irregular migrant minors in Spain, according to the Spanish branch of Save the Children.

The report highlights the difficulties undocumented migrant children and adolescents face in Spain.

Moroccan minors make up more than 50% of all young irregular migrants from Africa, and approximately 7% of all irregular migrant children in Spain.

Irregular Moroccan minors number at 10,000 which is approximately 50% of the 19,000 irregular minors from Africa, and about 7% of the total of 147,000 minors identified in the Iberian Peninsula.

Most of the irregular Moroccan minors in Spain do not have access to stable housing, languish often in poverty, social exclusion, and violence. Similarly, they encounter many difficulties in accessing health care and education.

The NGO also revealed the vulnerability of such minors in Spain, as most do not have access to social protection. The fact that they are often mistreated, also puts them in perpetual danger of human trafficking.

Read also: Moroccans Remain Largest Foreign Community in Spain

One such example circulated on social media in February. The video showed Spain’s Guardia Civil officers beating up young Moroccan children in a reception center for minors in the Canary Islands.

The video showed the young Moroccans begging the Spanish officers to stop hitting them. But the beating did not stop until all the Moroccans fell to the ground, with no energy left to resist.

In another tragic incident, on July 1, 2019, officers at a Spanish juvenile detention center killed Iliass Tahiri, an 18-year-old Moroccan boy.

In general, Spain has faced intense scrutiny over its treatment of irregular migrants. According to Arrels Foundation, a Spanish NGO that advocates for the rights of homeless people, there are currently 1,200 men and women who sleep in the streets of Barcelona, with irregular migrants representing a large part of the homeless community.

UN: Algeria Responsible for Human Rights Violations in Tindouf Camps

UN: Algeria Responsible for Human Rights Violations in Tindouf Camps
UN: Algeria Responsible for Human Rights Violations in Tindouf Camps

Rabat – The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has established Algeria’s responsibility in the human rights violations committed against distressed Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps. 

The UN council met in Geneva on March 1 to discuss the longstanding predicament of the Sahrawis refugees in Tindouf.

Speaking during the meeting under item 2 of the agenda of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council, Sahrawi human rights defender Adnan Braih said “thousands of Sahrawis” have been “condemned to silence in the camps of Tindouf in the southwest of Algeria, where the Polisario and its armed militias are sowing terror.”

Braih added,“I am confident of your commitment to be the voice of the voiceless, and I have come to defend the cause of thousands of Sahrawis condemned to silence in the Tindouf camps in southwestern Algeria, where the Polisario and armed militias sow terror and control with fire and blood, taking advantage of complicity.” 

He mentioned the case of his brother, Ahmed Khalil Braih, who was kidnapped by Algerian intelligence services in January 2009. 

“Indeed, the Algerian state still refuses to reveal the fate of my brother, Ahmed Khalil Braih, kidnapped by its intelligence services in January 2009 in Algiers when he was a human rights adviser to the secretary of the Polisario,” he added. 

Algerian authorities were also questioned over the suppression, torture, and kidnapping of supporters of the opposition in the camps. 

Read Also: Algerian Politician: Maghreb Union Should Not Include Morocco

Sahrawi activist and former Polisario member, Mustafa Salma, has accused Algiers of violating human rights of Sahrawis in Tindouf. 

“Sahrawis’ legal status has been suspended for decades and they are unable to obtain identification documents proving their legal status on Algerian soil. They are not refugees or are foreign immigrants with a residence card, nor are they citizens with [Algerian] nationality,” the activist lamented in one of his many denunciations of Algeria’s responsibility in the continued plight of Tindouf refugees.. 

Despite consistent warnings from the UN secretary general and several NGOs, the rights violations continue and the situation of the Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf camps is far from improving. 

Jordan to Open Consulate in Morocco’s Laayoune Thursday

Jordan to Open Consulate in Morocco’s Laayoune Thursday
Jordan to Open Consulate in Morocco’s Laayoune Thursday

Rabat – Jordan is set to inaugurate on Thursday, March 4, its Consulate General in Laayoune, southern Morocco.

The pending opening of a consulate in Laayoune  comes nearly four months after King Abdullah II informed King Mohammed VI of his country’s decision to open the consulate in the region.

In November, King Mohammed VI welcomed the decision during a phone call with King Abdullah II.

At the time, the monarch expressed his appreciation for Jordan’s decision, reflecting the country’s unwavering recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The Jordanian monarch also reaffirmed his country’s steadfast support for Morocco’s territorial integrity.

The Jordanian decision to open a consulate comes in response to Polisario’s maneuvers in Guerguerat, near the Mauritanian-Moroccan border.

During the call with the Moroccan monarch, King Abdullah II stressed Jordan’s full support for Morocco’s decision to secure the Guerguerat border crossing after a three-week blockade by the militant Polisario Front.

The Jordanian sovereign also congratulated King Mohammed VI on the successful response that restored the free movement of people and goods without causing any injuries or casualties. . 

The two leaders also discussed means to improve bilateral ties between Morocco and Jordan and reviewed regional developments of mutual concern.

A set of Arab countries joined a lengthy list of countries that have chosen to open consulates in Laayoune and Dakhla.

Dakhla hosts the consulates general of the Gambia, Guinea, Djibouti, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti as well as the Demorcatic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Meanwhile, Laayoune hosts the diplomatic representations of the Comoros, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Eswatini, Zambia, the UAE, and Bahrain.

Hajj 2021: Saudi Arabia Sets COVID-19 Vaccination as Requirement

Hajj 2021: Saudi Arabia Sets COVID-19 Vaccination as Requirement
Hajj 2021: Saudi Arabia Sets COVID-19 Vaccination as Requirement

Rabat – Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister, Tawfig Al-Rabiah, announced on March 1 that COVID-19 vaccination will be a requirement for performing Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) this year.

The Saudi minister Al-Rabiah ordered the formation of a COVID-19 vaccination committee for hajj pilgrims, stressing that only those vaccinated against the corona virus will be allowed to participate in the 2021 Islamic pilgrimage  season.

Tawfig Al-Rabiah also called for early preparation to secure the manpower required to operate health facilities in Makkah, Madinah and the ports of entry for pilgrims for the Hajj season.

Al-Rabiah did not specify the number of pilgrims that Saudi Arabia will receive this year, nor did he mention whether the number will be limited as it was in the 2020 Hajj season.

Saudi Arabia has put together an unprecedented plan to conduct the 2021 Hajj season, which involves both the formation of regiments in secure distances and the intensification of sterilization and disinfection operations.

Read Also: Morocco’s COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Outpaces Major Global Powers

Saudi authorities prepared for the start of the procedures by administering coronavirus tests to pilgrims before placing them in a ten-day quarantine. 

Taking into account the pandemic, the Hajj season in 2020 was exceptional; the number of pilgrims was limited to around 10,000 from Saudi Arabia alone, compared to around 700,00 locals in 2019.

Morocco-Germany Tensions, Western Sahara Tip of the Iceberg

Morocco-Germany Tensions, Western Sahara Tip of the Iceberg
Morocco-Germany Tensions, Western Sahara Tip of the Iceberg. Photo: Angela Merkel and King Mohammed VI in Paris

Rabat – In the past few hours, the internet and the news cycle have been abuzz with questions and analysis about the meaning, reasons, and implications of Morocco’s decision to suspend contact with Germany’s embassy in Rabat.

While questions are numerous and sometimes contradictory, some primary, helpful answers can be found in Morocco’s recent message to the European Union.

Last week, the country’s top diplomat sent  the European Union a clear message about what Morocco now considers as a genuine partnership. With recent developments on multiple fronts economic cooperation is no longer enough to cement lasting ties and partnership, the message suggested.

Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita, who delivered Rabat’s message, was even more emphatic about what Rabat expects from its allies on the Western Sahara question. He called on the EU to come out of its neutrality comfort zone and adopt the “international trend” on the  Sahara conflict.

Bourita made the remarks in response to the ambiguous position of some countries with regards to the four-decade conflict.

Despite the widespread international support for Morocco’s “credible and serious” Autonomy Plan, some countries in the EU continue to promote Polisario’s self-determination claims. 

Sidelining both Polisario’s well-documented link to terrorist groups in the Sahel and its illegitimate claims of being the “sole representative of the Sahrawis,” the EU’s pro-Polisario click is out against Morocco’s “claims” over Western Sahara.

Germany, like most global actors, is ostensibly “committed” to the UN-led political process in Western Sahara. 

Judging by recent developments, however, especially Berlin’s reported dissatisfaction with the US’ unequivocal support for Morocco, Germany’s alleged behind-the-scenes maneuverings belie its professed commitment to the UN process. So much so that Morocco, finally angered by what it perceives as suspicious neutrality, has decided to take the hard line on Berlin.   

On Monday, Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Ministry declared its unprecedented decision to suspend all contacts with Germany’s Embassy in Rabat.

The ministry explained its decision by citing “deep misunderstandings” that fall against fundamental questions of the Kingdom of Morocco.

Despite the recent development in the Western Sahara conflict, Germany has given no signs it is willing to follow in the footsteps of the United States.

The US has recently recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the region and expressed support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as a serious and credible solution to end the conflict over Western Sahara.

Some observers suspect Germany of being behind the latest attempt to push the European Court of Justice to issue yet another ruling on the legality of Morocco’s agriculture exports to the EU. 

The traditional, pro-Polisario talking point in such matters is that resources originating from Western Sahara, in southern Morocco, should be excluded from EU-Morocco agreements. 

While the European commission has repeatedly repelled that narrative, it is understood that some countries, including Germany, are still pushing for Europe to go hard on Morocco regarding Western Sahara.

The European Court of Justice will be reviewing the Western Sahara file in two hearings scheduled March 1 and March 2.

The two hearings will take place before the Ninth Chamber of the European Court of Justice

Some pro-Polisario groups, naturally including Algeria and South Africa, have been challenging the legality of agricultural exports and fisheries agreements between Morocco and the EU.

Aware of the importance of the agreements, the EU has recently stunned Polisario, identifying products from Western Sahara as not subject to any ban.

The European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius said in a recent written note that the imports of products from Western Sahara to the European Union should not be “subject to an import prohibition.”

The European Commission considers Western Sahara as a territory “whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government.”

“As the EU vessels activities in the relevant fishing zone are governed by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which is the object of still pending Court proceedings, the Commission refrains from providing further comments on this issue,” Sinkevicius added.

Germany is also planning to stand against the EU state members who support the US’ decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty in Western Sahara, according to Moroccan professor Khalid Yamout.

The Moroccan academic also called on Germany to stop its pressure on European countries and leave them to enjoy freedom to express their desire to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the region.

“If Germany wants common interests with Morocco, then it must understand that its very negative stance on the developments of the Sahara issue must change,” Yamout said.

Following the US’ decision to support Morocco’s cause in Western Sahara, Germany called for a Security Council meeting to discuss the issue.

Not a new tension

Some observers believe that the tension between Morocco and Germany is not a new development and has been brewing for over a year.

The first sign of the rift between the two countries became apparent after Germany snubbed Morocco when organizing the 2020 Berlin Conference on the Libyan crisis. 

Hosting what it hoped would be an eventful conference to end Libya’s political impasse,  Germany excluded Morocco from the global and MENA actors whose voice Berlin deemed essential for the Libyan political process and MENA stability in general. 

That Germany invited Algeria, a country that has historically undermined Moroccan interests and unrelentingly challenged its territorial integrity, struck Rabat as particularly offensive and disdainful.   

In a scathing statement about its exclusion from the Berlin conference, Morocco questioned Germany’s legitimacy and motive in hosting a conference to supposedly end the Libyan crisis without bothering to even fleetingly acknowledge the earlier, Morocco-brokered Skhirat Agreements. 

“Rabat played a decisive role in the conclusion of the Skhirat agreements, which are, to date, the only political framework – supported by the Security Council and accepted by all Libyan parties – for the resolution of the crisis in this brotherly Maghreb country,” read the statement of Morocco’s foreign ministry. 

It went on to express the country’s “deep astonishment at its exclusion from the Berlin conference.”

For Rabat, Germany should have at least acknowledged the central role Morocco played in facilitating the UN-led political process. 

By the time Germany organized its mostly failed Berlin Conference on Libya, Morocco had already hosted several rounds of discussion between Libyan factions in the coastal city Skhirat. This led to the signing of the Skhirat Agreement, which became the basis of the UN-led political process in Libya. 

Despite not being invited to the Berlin Conference, Morocco regained relevance in the Libyan conflict. Between September and December 2020, the country hosted several meetings with Libya’s warring factions. This helped pave the way for the signing of the now celebrated ceasefire agreement and  the formation of the new interim government. 

Both the German embassy in Morocco and the Moroccan government are yet to  provide more detailed comments regarding the situation. For now, however, it is increasingly clear that Rabat is looking to be more assertive in engaging countries on “central” questions, especially Western Sahara .

OCP, Nigeria Sign Agreements to Advance Fertilizer Production Partnership

OCP, Nigeria Sign Agreements to Advance Fertilizer Production Partnership
OCP, Nigeria Sign Agreements to Advance Fertilizer Production Partnership

Rabat – Morocco’s state-owned phosphate and fertilizer group OCP is moving forward with its commitment to assist the Nigerian government to achieve its goal of developing its agricultural industry.

Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources Timpire Martin Sylva is leading his country’s delegation for a working trip that will run until March 6th as part of the partnership between OCP and Nigeria’s government.

During the visit, the Nigerian delegation and OCP will discuss the “next steps” regarding the multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria.

The Moroccan fertilizer group wants to see the ammonia plant in Nigeria operational by 2024.

As part of the project, OCP and Nigeria seek to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and one million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.

On Monday, OCP and the Nigerian delegation signed a set of agreements to boost cooperation in the fertilizer sector. 

The  signing ceremony took place at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UMP6).

The agreements include a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between OCP Africa, the Fertilizer Producers & Suppliers Association of Nigeria ((FEPSAN), and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

The agreement seeks to “commit the second phase of the Nigerian Presidential Fertilize Initiative,” OCP said in a statement.

The initiative was established following the visit of King Mohammed VI to Nigeria in December 2016.

The principal aim is to allow Nigerian farmers to access high-quality fertilizer at affordable prices to improve the agriculture industry.

NSIA and OCP Africa signed a second agreement to create a Joint Venture Company (JVC), which will be tasked to oversee the development of an industrial platform.

Read Also: UM6P, IPM and OCP Foundation Mobilize Against Emerging Viral Diseases

The platform will produce ammonia and fertilizers in Nigeria.

The third cooperation agreement is a MoU between OCP, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and NSIA.

The agreement seeks to evaluate the opportunity of equity investment by both the NNPC in the JVC and for its support on gas.

The fourth agreement links OCP, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the NNPC, the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN), and the NSIA.

The agreement will be on gas supply for the industrial platform.

The fifth agreement covers a memorandum of understanding between OCP Africa, the Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and the NSIA on land acquisition, administrative facilitation, and common agricultural development projects in the Akwa Ibom State.

The agreements seek to allow Nigerian farmers to access quality fertilizers in line with their needs at competitive prices.

“They also aim to strengthen the solid partnership between OCP Group and the different institutions in the gas industry in Nigeria.”

 The agreements reaffirm OCP’s“unwavering support” for the agricultural development initiatives in Nigeria, the Moroccan company said in its statement.

The group expressed satisfaction with its partnership with Nigeria, saying it first partnered with the Fertilizer Producer Producers & Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FESPAN) under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative

(PFI) in 2016.

The OCP expanded the cooperation to the entire agricultural value chain.

The collaboration also covers farmer support initiatives and  supply chain development


Read Also: US Sides With Phosphate Giant Mosaic, Against OCP and US Farmers

OCP’s investments and projects in Nigeria have increased local production capacity to over 5 million tonnes per year.

In recent years, the Moroccan company expanded its projects across Africa. The company has considerably contributed to continental efforts in the field of  smart and sustainable agriculture.

Some of OCP Africa’s recent initiatives include the launch of a platform to ensure expertise sharing between African researchers and partners on soil mapping.

The project is part of OCP’s actions to promote the creation of decision-support tools in agriculture across Africa.

Morocco Expects More Heavy Thunderstorms from Today

Morocco Expects More Heavy Thunderstorms from Today

Rabat – Morocco’s General Directorate of Meteorology (DMN) announced today that heavy thunderstorms are set to continue until late Wednesday afternoon.

Orange level warnings of heavy thunderstorms expected from today until Wednesday at 3 p.m in the provinces of Al Hoceima, Driouc, and Nador, the DMN said in a new weather forecast.

The rainfall during thunderstorms will range from40 to 70 millimeters.

The same weather will affect the provinces of Chefchaouen and Tetouan.

Rainfall will also hit the provinces of Berkane, Guercif, Jerada, Oujda-Angad, Taourirt, Taza, Boulemane, Figuig, and Midelet until Wednesday at 11 p.m.

Local moderate thunderstorms will hit the provinces of El Hajeb, Fez, Ifrane, Moulay Yacoub, Sefrou, and Tetouan from Tuesday to Wednesday, with an expected rainfall of  15 to 25 millimeters .

The DMN has been sharing orange-level weather notices since last week.

The updates seek to warn citizens of the approaching weather conditions to avoid painful tragedies, including flooding related events.

On Monday, heavy floods hit the northern region of Morocco.

Photos and footage have gone viral of the severe floods in Tetouan.

Some of the photos show cars submerged, unearthing how desperately infrastructure changes are needed in the region.

The region recorded heavy rainfall estimated at 100 millimeters in just X hours.

The flooding damaged at least 275 houses, but authorities said they recorded no casualties.

Floods also hit the city of Casablanca in January, causing the collapse of several houses.

In Tangier, floods caused a short circuit in an illegal textile unit in February, 

 an incident which claimed the lives of at least 28 victims.

2 Moroccan Women Win L’Oreal-UNESCO ‘For Women in Science’ Award

2 Moroccan Women Win L'Oreal UNESCO For Women in Science Award
2 Moroccan Women Win L'Oreal UNESCO For Women in Science Award

Rabat – The 2020 L’Oreal-UNESCO Maghreb fellowship program awarded two Moroccan researchers, Jihane Ouchrif and Najlaa Fathi for their outstanding research in STEM.

Both Ouchrif and Fathi are praised for their research that contributes to STEM fields and were each granted a scholarship of 10 000 € ($12040) to finance their post-PhD projects.

Ouchrif is a PhD student at Hassan II University in Casablanca, majoring in electrical engineering and telecommunications. Her research focuses on designing prototypes of the optical detector based on the optical transistor of fiber optic communication systems.

Fathi is also a PhD student majoring in environmental science at Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech. Fathi’s research emphasizes the impact of urban warming and the effect on surface temperature, and the reduction of carbon absorption due to non-permeable surfaces.

The fellowship program aims to encourage female participation from North Africa in the STEMfield.

The award was also presented to three other prominent women.

Aida Lahmer from Tunisia was recognized for her research about creating dermatological alternatives based on collagen and medicinal plants. Her fellow Tunisian, Roha Dziri, was chosen for her research on the rapid and persistent change of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, with a focus on  treatments like antibiotics which are becoming increasingly  ineffective. 

Algerian Sarah Benkhalifa was acknowledged for research in identifying new biomarkers that enable targeted therapeutic treatment increasing efficacy, focusing on colorectal cancer .

Following the global precautionary health measures, the official prize ceremony has been postponed until further notice.

Since 1998, the L’Oreal foundation alongside UNESCO, have organized the “for Women in Science” program to highlight the achievements of young women in science and to encourage them to pursue a career in life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and computer science.

Ouchrif and Fathi join the list of Moroccan women with great accomplishments, enhancing the image of women across the Arab world.

Floods Submerge 275 Houses in Tetouan, Northern Morocco

Floods Submerge 275 Houses in Tetouan, Northern Morocco
Floods Submerge 275 Houses in Tetouan, Northern Morocco. Photo: 2m

Rabat – On Monday, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m Tetouan recorded heavy rainfall reaching 100 millimeters.

The overflow of water in the city’s drainage system caused disastrous flooding in some areas and severe property damage according to local authorities in the city.

The flooding submerged 275 houses around the city and swept away 11 vehicles.

Authorities did not record any casualties.

The services in the region said that they mobilized the necessary resources to take control of the situation and keep the damage to a minimum, reducing the impact of the floods and ensuring the safety of its citizens.

Residents of Tetouan shared their dismay and shock by uploading images and videos of the flooding on social media. 

Some of the videos depict submerged vehicles with civilians trapped inside.

A stream of complaints poured into social media.

Read Also: Viral Videos Show Heavy Floods in Northern Morocco

One of the comments said, “Bad evacuation, no drainage system, nothing. It’s normal that a little bit of rain turns into a waterfall. What a shame!”

Other comments suggested that the situation was shameful and were questioning how many languages people should speak before the government would understand that the region’s infrastructure is inadequate.

The silence before the storm was broken by the notice of heavy thunderstorms and rainfall in various parts of the country from Morocco’s General Directorate of Meteorology (DMN) last week.

The Tetouan floods followed similar natural disasters in Casablanca and Tangier.

Causing the collapse of several houses, flooding in Casablanca from January 6 to 11, recorded a record rainfall of  250 mm accounting for 69% of the annual rainfall.

In Tangier, floods triggered a short circuit in an illicit cloth factory in February. The event took the lives of at least 28 victims.

Social media was flooded with calls from Moroccan’s for an official investigation to determine the culprit(s) behind the Tangier tragedy.

Remittances From Moroccans Abroad Reached $660 Million In January

Remittances From Moroccans Abroad Reached $660 Million In January
Compared to five years ago, money transfers from Moroccans residing abroad have increased by approximately 28.3%.(Photo credit: Mufid Majnun)

Rabat – Remittances from Moroccans residing abroad (MREs) have grown to nearly $660 million (MAD 5.9 billion) in January 2021.

According to the Moroccan Foreign Exchange Office, the fund transfers for January 2021 increased by 8.8% compared to those of January 2020, which reached $604 million (MAD 5.4 billion). Since remittances began to be recorded, they have shown a general upwards growth. Compared to January 2016, when Morocco received $514 million (MAD 4.6 billion), remittances have increased by approximately 28.3%.

Projections published by the Central Bank, remittances from MREs will increase by 6.3% in 2021 and by 2% in 2022.

According to Mohamed Benchaaboun, minister of economy, finance and administrative reform, approximately 10% of all money transfers from Moroccans abroad in 2020 were directed towards investment. Of this sum, nearly 75% went into property and real estate.

Read also: Morocco’s Justice Ministry Vows to Improve Legal Services for MREs

Speaking at the “Economic recovery of Morocco” seminar in February, Benchaaboun noted that MREs should utilize their “network of connections, trade and technology,” for the benefit of the country.

The minister also noted the government’s efforts to encourage investment, citing the reform of the Regional Investment Centers as one of the success stories. The reforms reduced the processing time of investment projects to no more than one month, according to Benchaaboun.

Considering that 17% of the Moroccan expatriates hold graduate degrees or have received higher-level training, investment from MREs could be utilized in a much more efficient way, especially in the context of post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

In November 2020, the minister delegate in charge of Moroccans Residing Abroad (MREs), Nezha El Ouafi presented a program that seeks to mobilize 10,000 Moroccan executives residing abroad by 2030, for the benefit of the North African country.

Polisario Challenges Morocco in the European Court of Justice

Polisario Challenges Morocco in the European Court of Justice
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita declared that Rabat is looking forward to defending the "legitimacy of its commercial partnership" with the EU.

Rabat – As the separatist group Polisario continues to challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity, the European Court of Justice will be reviewing the Western Sahara file in two hearings scheduled March 2 and 3.

The two hearings will take place before the Ninth Chamber of the European Court of Justice. The Polisario Front is challenging the legality of agricultural exports and fisheries agreements between Morocco and the European Union.

A spokesperson for the European Court of Justice explained to Agence France-Presse that the court’s decision can be expected to be published “within months.”

For the separatist group, the issue at hand comes from the “plunder of natural resources” in Western Sahara, “especially export crops, phosphates, fishing, and tourism,” explained French lawyer Gilles Duffer, speaking with the international news agency.

Read also: Morocco Exposes Polisario, Algeria’s Propaganda in Letter to UN

The Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita declared that Rabat is looking forward to defending the “legitimacy of its commercial partnership” with the EU.

According to a study published by the European Commission in December 2020, Morocco’s Sahara exports to the European Union reached a total of €435 million (MAD 4.7 billion), in 2019.

As Morocco’s Autonomy Plan has begun to see growing support on the international stage, the Algerian-backed Polisario Front vies for international recognition, with little success. Out of the 84 United Nations member states that have previously recognized the Polisario’s self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), 45 countries to date have withdrawn, frozen, or suspended their recognition of the Polisario state.

Polisario can expect to receive another setback from one of its former allies, as the Mauritanian government reconsiders recognition of SADR, a Mauritanian news outlet Anbaa recently reported.

Speaking anonymously, the source said that Mauritania’s government plans to withdraw recognition of the self-proclaimed SADR before the end of Mauritania’s current presidential term.

Read also: Mauritania to Withdraw Recognition of Polisario’s Self-Proclaimed SADR

Even as Polisario continues to accuse the UN of supporting Morocco in perpetuating the political stalemate in Western Sahara, the separatist group has found itself backed in the corner. With rapidly decreasing support, Polisario scrambles for international sympathy, engaging in a desperate media war with Morocco.

In a recent letter to the UN Secretary-General, the separatist front requested that the UN reconvene to solve the decades-long political deadlock in Western Sahara.

Western Sahara: UN Denies Polisario’s Fake War Allegations

Western Sahara: UN Denies Polisario’s Fake War Allegations
Western Sahara: UN Denies Polisario’s Fake War Allegations

Rabat – Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, has denied Polisario’s fake war claims against Morocco’s military personnel in Guerguerat, near the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.

Despite reliable sources reporting calm and stability in Guerguerat and other regions in Western Sahara, Polisario and its supporter Algeria continue to share their engineered fake news of an “ongoing war in the Sahara.” 

Polisario has continued to claim that its “military” are launching attacks against Morocco’s army in the region.

The group’s war announcements followed international applause for Morocco for restoring stability, civil, and goods traffic in the region.

Read Also: Fake War: Algeria Continues Campaign Against Morocco’s Territorial Integrity

The Moroccan government sent the military to the region to lift a blockade Polisario’s militias imposed.

Since November 2020, Polisario has continued to update its “fake war” section in its news agency. Algeria, which continues to support, arm, and finance the separatist group, has reshared Polisario’s fake war statements in its official news agency APS.

To Polisario and Algeria’s dismay, the UN publicly announced that the peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara MINURSO continues to monitor the situation in the region.

Dujarric said the UN continues to receive “unconfirmed” reports of shooting in Western Sahara.

 “The Mission continues to monitor the situation throughout the Territory, including in Guerguerat, to the extent possible given its capabilities,” he said.

The statement came to refute all claims Polisario and Algeria have been promoting regarding a war attack against “Morocco’s military.”

The UN made a similar statement regarding the situation in the region on February 26.

“We have not received any information in Guerguerat that has changed in any way,” the spokesperson said.

The statement comes in response to a question about Polisario’s announcement on the collapse of the ceasefire agreement signed with Morocco in 1991.

Morocco Suspends Flights With Belgium, Italy

Morocco Suspends Flights With Belgium, Italy
The COVID-19 safety measures will affect 56 flights between Brussels Airport and Morocco.

Rabat – The Moroccan government has added Italy and Belgium to the list of countries with which to suspend air links, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Air Arabia confirmed the news in a tweet on Monday, March 1, which explained that “As per the latest Moroccan guidelines, flights from/to Italy and Belgium are suspended starting from midnight until further notice.”

Both embassies confirmed the suspensions. The Belgian embassy also indicated that “trips to Morocco via a third country are [also] banned for this period.”

The COVID-19 safety measures affect 56 flights from Air Arabia, Royal Air Maroc, and TUI at Brussels Airport, reports the Belga news agency. Meanwhile, the suspension of air traffic between Morocco and Italy will disrupt the flights of Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair, Air Arabia Maroc, American Airlines, Iberia, Transavia France, easyJet, and KLM.

Morocco had already suspended maritime links with Italy on February 3.

Read also: Morocco to Have At Least 20 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines by End of April

The news comes following the latest suspension of flights starting midnight, February 22, with Switzerland, Turkey, The Netherlands, Germany, and Austria. The North African country had already suspended flights with several other countries, including the UK, South Africa, Denmark, Australia, Brazil, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

Despite Morocco’s steadily decreasing infection rate, the government has proceeded with caution. On March 1, Morocco extended the night curfew by two more weeks.

“This decision is made on the basis of the recommendations of the Scientific and Technical Commission concerning the need to maintain the necessary measures to fight against the coronavirus,” the government’s statement said.

As of March 1, Morocco has confirmed a total of 483,766 COVID-19 infections, with 5,784 active cases. On the same day, Morocco announced 14 COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total to 8,637.

Under Morocco’s national vaccination campaign 3,568,670 people have received the first dose, with 232,980 having received the second dose.

Morocco Announces $1 Million Humanitarian Aid for Yemen

Morocco Announces $1 Million Humanitarian Aid for Yemen
Morocco Announces $1 Million Humanitarian Aid for Yemen. Photo: UNHCR

Rabat – Morocco’s government has announced a $1 million donation to help tackle the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

King Mohammed VI ordered the donation of $1 million for the Yemeni people, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita announced on Monday.

Morocco’s foreign minister announced the news while he was attending a high-level meeting on the Humanitarian Plan in Yemen.

During the meeting, Bourita said that Morocco has always insisted on the need to attach great importance to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

“The humanitarian crisis in that country can only be solved through a comprehensive and lasting political solution that prevents the unit and sovereignty of Yemen, according to the references in force,” including the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, Bouirta argued.

The official warned against the absence of a policy, saying that a lack of strategy to solve the crisis would “inevitably worsen the humanitarian situation in this country.”

The Moroccan FM described the situation in the region as an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Morocco also urged international communities to increase efforts to avoid the specter of famine that threatens some 16 million Yemenis in 2021.

Bourita shared forecasts saying that another 22 million Yemenis will need humanitarian aid or 75% of the population.

Morocco expressed support for the UN agencies for their continuous solidarity and for the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed disappointment over the outcome of Monday’s meeting.

“The outcome of today’s pledging event for Yemen is disappointing.”

He thanked those who “pledged generously” and asked other countries to “consider what they can do to help stave off the worst famine the world has seen in decades.”

The UN chief also expressed firm support for the Yemeni people.

Morocco’s government has long expressed support for the Yemeni people.

In January, Moroccan FM held a talk with his Yemeni counterpart Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak.

During the virtual meeting, Bourita confirmedMorocco’s support for the new government in Yemen.

Morocco also expressed wishes that the new government can carry out its missions under “the best possible conditions” to serve the interests of the Yemeni people and alleviate their suffering.

The North African country also expressed concerns regarding the situation in Yemen, where thousands of people have died since 2014.

The intensified humanitarian crisis in 2019 forced Morocco to withdraw its military personnel from the Saudi-led coalition forces.

Yemeni officials expressed satisfaction with Rabat’s decision and its respect for the non-interference principle when it comes to other countries’ domestic affairs.

Regional Council of Dakhla Meet to Discuss Development

Regional Council of Dakhla Meet to Discuss Development
The council meets as part of the 2020-2022 regional development program.

Rabat – The monthly ordinary session of the Regional Council of Dakhla Oued Eddahab in El Guerguerat ran on Monday, March 1, to discuss development and investment in the region.

The council examined different draft conventions and regional development programs, particularly relating to the social, economic and cultural sectors. The regional council approved 14 projects totaling $64 million (MAD 574 million).

Central to the discussion were the program contracts between the government and the region of Dakhla Oued Eddahab. The working contracts relate to the implementation of projects within the framework of the 2020-2022 regional development program, the creation of a center for trades and education, and the construction of two health centers in Dakhla.

Within the context of opening a “City of Trades and Skills”, the council examined the draft of a partnership agreement between the Regional Council and the Office for Vocational Training and Work Promotion (OFPPT).

Read also: Dakhla Crowned Dream Destination 2021

Furthermore, the council examined the draft of a partnership agreement concerning the financing of a permanent supply of electricity for the Aousserd Center. This would be achieved through a solar energy production station, as well as financing from the government.

Within the cultural sector, the council looked at the agreement between the Regional Council and the National Institute of Archaeological and Heritage Sciences. Under the same agenda, they will also consider the opening of an interpretation center for the region’s cultural heritage.

The last few months have seen a flurry of investment and development in the southern provinces. The Moroccan Minister of Energy, Mines, and the Environment Aziz Rabbah explained that Dakhla will become a strategic, international hub and an essential axis for the African continent.

Rabbah said the country’s investments in renewable energy has exceeded MAD 52 billion ($5.65 billion) over the past 10 years.

Morocco is ramping up efforts to revitalize the tourism sector amid the COVID-19 crisis. The country’s southern regions and their international appeal can help boost the vital sector.

Rabat to Host the Visa for Music Festival in November

Rabat to Host the Visa for Music Festival in November
Rabat to Host the Visa for Music Festival in November. Photo: Visa For Music

Rabat – The eighth year of Visa for Music festival, featuring a professional market and African and Middle Eastern music, will take place in Rabat from 17 to 20 November.

According to the official press release, applications are now open for artists who want to take part in this year’s event Applicants can submit entries electronically by April 15, 2021 on the Visa for Music website.

In partnership with Hiba foundation and Atlas Azawan Association, the festival brings together the Moroccan and international music industry.

The theme of the eighth annual event will be  “Arts, culture and heritage: a lever to build the Africa we want,” said the organizers.

The 2021 Visa for Music festival will offer a new experience, providing both live concerts and digital sessions,  building on the live experiences of previous editions since 2014 and the all-digital format of 2020.

A panel consisting of celebrities from the cultural and music industries will pick approximately thirty artists and groups from Africa and the Middle East this year, added the organizers.

The Visa for Music festival is a professional platform for Moroccan, African, and Middle Eastern music, aimed at promoting the growth of the region’s music markets.

The first edition of the event was held in Rabat from 12 to 15 November, 2014.

A number of prominent artists attended the first festival including Dj Van, Alif Ensemble, and the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila.

Former Moroccan Terrorism Convict Discredits Ex Cellmate’s Torture Claims

Former Moroccan Terrorism Convict Discredits Ex Cellmate’s Torture Claims
Former Moroccan Terrorism Convict Discredits Ex Cellmate’s Torture Claims

Rabat – An ongoing internet dispute between two former terrorism convicts continues to garner widespread attention and mixed reactions on Moroccan social networks. 

In the case’s latest twist, Hassan Al Khatab, an ex salafi convict who was the Emir of a little-known Shiite cult of Ansar al-Mahdi (Helpers of the Expected One) that was dismantled in 2006, joined former terrorism convict Bouchta Charef in his public campaign to “expose the lies” of Mohamed Hajib.

Hajib was arrested in 2010 and convicted of seven years in prison over charges of training with terrorist groups. He was jailed following his deportation from Pakistan. 

After leaving prison and moving to Germany, Hajib started uploading videos to YouTube, accusing Moroccan security services of torture.

His claims did not go unnoticed and caught the attention of Al Khatab, who was also detained for terrorism charges. 

In a video response, Al Khatab argued that whoever has a smartphone inside his cell can not in any way be subject to torture.

“How is it possible for someone who is tortured to have a phone and be able to record videos and take pictures from inside the prison?” Al Khatab asked.

For the Emir of the Ansar al-Mahdi community, Hajib’s torture claims are “only falsehood.”

Al Khatab, who was in the same block as Hajib, challenged him to prove the torture claims and accused him of pushing agendas and receiving foreign financing to smear Morocco.

“We are not waiting for any party to pay us to stab our country in the back. You did not only betray an institution but 40 million Moroccans,” he said.

Al Khatab then praised Morocco’s notable progress in many fields, especially highlighting that the country’s achievements annoy many in the region. He suggested that Morocco’s regional foes reach out to people like Hajib to spread lies and give a distorted image of the country.

He went on to evoke an instance where Hajib wanted to self-mutilate by using the “Siwak” to wound his back. He asked Al Khatab and his friends to testify for him, but they refused to do so, according to Al Khatab.

Torture allegations against Morocco have been surfacing every now and then with activists, former convicts, and NGOs accusing Moroccan security services of torturing a certain category inmates. 

But Moroccan public institutions have strenuously declined the claims, declaring them as unfounded and politically motivated.

Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts

Morocco is a regional and global leader in the fields of counterterrorism and de-radicalization. The North African country enjoys many counter-terrorism partnerships with important global actors, such as the United States and the European Union. 

Morocco has dismantled 2,009 terrorism cells since 2002 as part of its counterterrorism approach, according to data from the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ).

As well as arresting 3,535 people for their alleged involvement in terror activities, Moroccan intelligence and security services have in recent years aborted around 500 potentially “bloody” terrorism plots, Mohamed Nifaoui revealed.

Morocco Suspends Contact with Germany’s Embassy in Rabat

Morocco Suspends Contact with Germany’s Embassy in Rabat

Rabat – Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the suspension of all contact with Germany’s embassy in Rabat.

The foreign ministry’s statement, which went viral online, argued that the decision is due to “deep misunderstandings with the Federal Republic of Germany on fundamental questions of the Kingdom of Morocco”

The ministry called on all ministerial departments and all the bodies which come under their supervision to suspend all contact, interaction or cooperative action “in any way, shape or form.”

“Any derogation from this suspension can only be done on the basis of an explicit prior agreement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad.”

The Moroccan ministry concluded its statement, saying that it has taken the decision to suspend all contact or approach with the German Embassy in Morocco.

Major news outlets published the same statement, but the state agency and Morocco’s government have yet to confirm the news.

Morocco and Germany have long maintained good relations. 

In December 2020, Germany provided Morocco with  €1.387 billion in financial support to help Morocco face its domestic COVID-19 crisis, boost the national economy, and advance development initiatives. 

In December, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita held a phone call with his German counterpart Gerd Muller to deepen cooperation between Morocco and Germany in different fields, including efforts to fight COVID-19.

The two ministers welcomed the conclusions of the latest intergovernmental development cooperation negotiations.

The same month witnessed discussion between Morocco and Germany on green energy development.

The European country expressed determination to support green energy development in the North African country.

It remains to be seen whether the decision has links with Germany’s position over Morocco’s stance in sovereign dossiers, including Western Sahara.

Some observers acquainted with Morocco-Germany relationship believe the cause of the rift is Germany’s refusal to extradite  Mohamed Habjib a former Morocco terrorism convict who lives in Germany. Hajib has been living in Germany since 2017 after he spent seven years in a Moroccan prison for terrorism charges. 

Since he moved to Germany with his Irish wife, Hajib has published a series of videos in YouTube where he accuses Moroccan security services of having subjected him to torture, charges that many of his cellmates deny. 

Other observers pointed that the main reason behind this bout of tension between two countries is the Transparency International’s recent report about Morocco. The German NGO released a report that was very critical of the country’s track -record in fighting corruption.

Dismissing the efforts the country has made over the past year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its social and economic impact, and also launching country-wide vaccination campaign, the report painted a very dark picture of Morocco’s economic outlook, blaming it on corruption and the “failure” of the state to tackle it.

For many observers who spoke to MWN, the report smacks of being politically motivated. A money-laundering and anti-corruption expert, who spoke to MWN on the condition of anonymity, wonders why Transparency International never questions the level of corruption raging in any reputable German multinationals or Germany’s money-laundering deficiencies.

“In the meantime, Germany is being sued by the EU commission for its Anti-money laundering deficiencies. It has been called “a money laundering paradise” by the commission,” the expert told MWN.

In fact, as recently as late last month, the EU launched legal proceedings against Germany over money-laundering claims. The move was praised by German MP who said his country is “a money laundering paradise.” These legal proceedings have not been reported by TI, nor did the German-based and funded NGO express its concerns about the country’s money-laundering deficiencies.

“At the same time Germany has been heavily criticized for not punishing its companies that commit bribery abroad. For example, Siemens was punished by the US. Freesenius was happily bribing Morocco, and also punished by the US. However, TI never issued a repot about them,” the expert added.

A report issued by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in 2018 said German’s real estate market had become a magnet for money-laundering and dirty money. The report was based on Transparency International Report that is no longer accessible.

Churchill’s Painting of the Koutoubia Mosque Auctioned for €2.8 Million

Churchill's Painting of the Koutoubia Mosque Auctioned for €2.8 Million
Churchill's Painting of the Koutoubia Mosque Auctioned for €2.8 Million

Rabat – “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” will be presented March 1, 2021 in Christie’s auction house. The bidding starts at €1.7 million. 

Churchill gifted this painting to US President Franklin Roosevelt before one of his sons sold it in the 1950s. It was then resold several times before arriving in the hands of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie in 2011. 

The painting shows the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, a  symbol of Almohad architecture from the 12th century. In the background, the Atlas Mountains add a touch of majesticness. 

Having visited Marrakech six times in 23 years, Churchill immortalized and captured the beauty of this monument in a painting. 

The painting was Churchill’s only artwork during WWII. 

“Here, in the vast oases of palm trees that emanate from the desert, the traveler is sure to enjoy endless sun (…) and the landscapes of the majestic Atlas mountains covered with snow,” he wrote in the Daily Mail in 1936, describing the captivating beauty of the scenery.  

According to the auction guide, the painting is considered “Churchill’s most important work, given its close connection to 20th century history.” 

The painting is considered “historically significant” because of Churchill’s position and because of his relevance to the time of WWII. 

The auction house also stated that Winston Churchill “created around 45 paintings depicting Moroccan landscapes after he was encouraged to visit the country by his art tutor Sir John Lavery.” 

He was also inspired by the ochre city and painted “Scene at Marrakech, circa 1935.” Which is also put up for auction. 

New Flights to Connect Fez Morocco and Bastia Corsica, Starting July

New Flights to Connect Fez Morocco and Bastia Corsica, Starting July
The low-cost French air company will be the first to connect the two destinations.

Rabat – The low-cost subsidiary of the Air France-KLM group, Transavia, has announced its plans to connect Bastia in the island of Corsica, with Fez, the old royal capital of Morocco, starting this summer.

Starting from July 3, 2021, Transavia will offer weekly Saturday flights, between Bastia-Poretta, located on the French island off the coast of Italy, and the Fez-Saiss airport, in Morocco. 

The route will be operated by the Boeing 737-800 airplane, with 189 seats available. Departures are scheduled at 3:25 p.m. to arrive at 4:55 p.m., while return flights will leave Morocco at 5:40 p.m. and land at 9:10 p.m. in Bastia.

The Moroccan-bound flights will start from €54, and Transavia will be the only carrier connecting the two destinations.

Despite Morocco’s recent decision to suspend flights with several European and non-European countries, French-Moroccan borders remain open.

Read also: ASL Airlines France’s Summer Program Includes Flights to Morocco

At midnight on February 22, Morocco suspended flights with Switzerland, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Germany. Morocco had already suspended flights with several countries, including the UK, South Africa, Denmark, Australia, Brazil, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

The decision to suspend flights will be reviewed in 15 days.

The suspensions came in response to the emergence of new strains of COVID-19. Despite various proactive measures, and UK flights being suspended since 20 December, Morocco has reported at least 24 cases of the UK strain.

The airline is “expanding its offer from Corsica with the opening of the Bastia-Fez line, to allow travelers to find their relatives in Morocco,” read a statement from the subsidiary.

The route is still subject to the changing epidemiological situation in Morocco and abroad. Considering the North African country’s success with its national vaccination campaign, the launch of the route could be more dependent on outside factors, rather than the domestic situation.

COVID-19: Morocco Records 112 New Infections, 299 Recoveries

Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health has recorded 112 new cases of COVID-19 in the country during the last 24 hours.
Morocco’s active COVID-19 cases reach 5,784.

Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health has recorded 112 new cases of COVID-19 in the country during the last 24 hours.

As of March 1, Morocco has had a total of 483,766 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Morocco’s health authorities announced 299 recoveries, adding to a total of 469,345 recoveries since the outbreak began.

In the past 24 hours, there have been 14 COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total to 8,637.

Morocco currently counts 5,784  active COVID-19 cases, including 394 patients in severe or critical condition. Severely-ill patients include 28 who are under intubation and 225 under non-invasive ventilation.

Casablanca-Settat remains the most affected region in the country. In the past 24 hours, it recorded 50 new COVID-19 cases and five coronavirus-related deaths.

Read Also: COVID-19: Morocco Extends Night Curfew By Two Weeks

Rabat-Sale-Kenitra comes second, with 38 new cases with three deaths, followed by the Oriental region with 10 new cases, and two deaths.

Marrakech-Safi  recorded seven infections and one death, while the Beni Mellal-Khenifra region recorded nine new cases, and two deaths.

Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima , Souss-Massa Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra, Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab, Draa-Tafilalet, Guelmim-Oued Noun, and Fes-Meknes have all recorded under 10 new cases, with only three deaths between them.

Under Morocco’s national vaccination campaign 3,568,670 people have received the first dose, while 232,980 have already received the second dose.

Morocco has so far received 7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

To date, Morocco has carried out 5,177,088 COVID-19 tests.

Meanwhile, the national recovery rate maintains a steady 97%, while the rate of death is still at 1.8%.