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Editorial Board

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Samir Bennis – Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief

A member of the United Nations community, Samir Bennis is a political analyst. He received a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Provence in France. He also holds a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Toulouse I, a Master’s degree in Iberian studies from the University of Toulouse II, a Master’s degree in diplomatic studies from Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Paris and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish studies from the University of Fez. He pursued a post-doctoral research at the Diplomatic School of Madrid. His areas of academic interest include, relations between Morocco and Spain and between the Muslim world and the West, as well as the global politics of oil. He has published over a 150 articles in Arabic, French, English and Spanish, and authored Les Relations Politiques, Economiques et Culturelles Entre le Maroc et l’Espagne: 1956-2005, which was published in French in 2008. He is the co-founder of Morocco World News. He lives in New York.

Contact [email protected]

Adnane Bennis – Co-Founder/Managing Editor

Adnane Bennis is a national of Morocco, obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Science from East west University in Chicago. He also holds an associate Degree in English literature from the University of Fez. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in international diplomacy from Norwich University.

Mr. Bennis has worked with international companies including IBM and Motorola as a software testing engineer. Adnane’s commitment to international affairs, international public policy, human rights advocacy and diplomacy provided him with experience and determination for positive, sustainable change.  Currently, he volunteers with OPPF Peace foundation as a head of communication and second alternate UN Representative.

Contact [email protected]

Ahmad Azizi – Analysis Editor

A physicist by training, Ahmad’s work experience has been with the United Nations and International Affairs. He has eight years under his belt as a political advisor in New York, over which he has acquired experience in a wide range of diplomatic and political affairs, most notably in connection with the work of the Security Council. His current research interest focuses on the “responsibility to protect” as an emerging global principle. But as a Syrian-American, he has been equally active in the Arab-American and American Muslim community in New York. Having recently become a father, Ahmad’s passion is to work towards a safe, secure and equitable world for this and future generations.


Analysis Editor – Hisham Elkoustaf is an attorney with over a decade of experience at the intersection of law, policy and international development.  Fluent in Arabic and French, he has worked in over fifteen developing countries where he counseled government officials, leaders of NGOs, and members of the private sector on legal and economic reform.  Hisham earned his B.A. in Political Science, Cum Laude, from Columbia University.  He received an M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University.  He earned his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Born and raised in Casablanca, Hisham moved to NYC in 1984 and remains a die-hard fan of Raja Casablanca.

 Benjamin Villanti – Editor

Benjamin Villanti has been part of the United Nations community in New York since 2005, working in both public information and political analysis. He has a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from George Washington University. Along with his experience at the UN, Ben possesses a strong interest in US public policy, the Middle East and Latin America as well as history, journalism and film. He speaks fluent Spanish having lived in Madrid, Spain and has studied Arabic. In addition, he is an avid fan of the New York Giants and Knicks (Email: [email protected]).

Sharanjit Deol – Project Manager/Webmaster

Sharanjit Deol is the Chief web designer and project manager for Morocco World News. She is responsible for management of the development life cycle which includes the conception, design, development, testing, documentation and implementation of our online-based news site. She also provides support to our business operations which includes; reporting for daily analysis, monitoring trends, researching new technologies and aiding in marketing strategies.

Sharanjit Deol graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Business from Northern Illinois University. She has worked in the I.T. industry for 10 years with AT&T as a Senior QA Lead and US Cellular as a Systems Test Strategist; and then providing Consulting Services independently (Email: [email protected]).

Leila Hanafi – Co-Editor/Legal Expert

Leila Hanafi is an international lawyer, currently working as Staff Attorney and Programs Manager at the World Justice Project, in Washington, D.C. She previously held a number of positions at the World Bank. As one of the Bank’s youngest professionals, Leila worked on operations, finance, poverty reduction, and legal reform. She won the highly competitive World Bank Middle East and North Africa Innovation Fund Prize, through which she led a legal empowerment initiative for young Moroccan women. Leila serves on the Board of several organizations in the field of international law and development, including the United Nations Association YPIC and the Moroccan-American Legal Empowerment Network. She has also published several academic papers and articles on the legal systems of North Africa, which have been profiled in national and international media outlets. A strong advocate of the rule of law throughout her life, Leila has organized and presented at several international forums and at high-level World Bank and United Nations meetings, advocating for young people’s legal rights and representing the young face of development. She is an honors graduate of American University’s School of International Service and Georgetown University, and currently a doctoral candidate in international law ([email protected]).

Sarah AlaouiSarah Alaoui graduated from UC San Diego with a B.A. in political science and completed her M.A. in Public Affairs/Action at Sciences Po Lille in France. Her interests include: the integration and civic participation of the Moroccan diaspora in France, the status of women in MENA countries, U.S. foreign policy in the MENA region, and consolidating ties between the West and the Arab world. She lives in Washington, D.C. She is Morocco World News analysis editor.



April Warren – Assistant Editor

April J. Warren was born and raised on Long Island.  She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Stony Brook University. While attending undergrad school, she became the editor in chief of the campus newspaper, The Statesman.  She has also interned for The Southampton Press, CBS and Newsday where she is still a freelance reporter. While attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, April produced a 7,000 word magazine piece analyzing the changing face of Long Island’s East End as a result of an increasing Hispanic population.

She graduated in May 2011. After graduating, April started working as the United Nations correspondent for The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest daily newspaper.  She mainly covers The Security Council.

Anna Jacobs, Morocco World News Contributor in Rabat, Morocco
Anna Jacobs – Assistant Editor

Anna Jacobs graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in Government, Foreign Affairs, and French literature. She did research on race and migration in Morocco and Algeria for her undergraduate thesis entitled, “Sub-Saharan Migration in the Maghreb; the reality of race in Morocco and Algeria,” for which she won the Stevenson Award for best honors thesis. After graduating, she lived in Laval, France as an English teaching assistant to improve her language and teaching skills, and then she won a Fulbright Scholarship to study Arabic and to conduct research on migration, civil society development, and human rights in Morocco. She completed her research project, entitled “Sub-Saharan Irregular Migration in Morocco; the politics of civil society and the state in the struggle for migrants’ rights” in August 2012. Since then she has been teaching English in Rabat, helping with a refugee legal aid project, advising undergraduate researchers on migration related issues in Morocco, and contributing to a book on institutional racism in the Mediterranean region, which is due out in March 2014.  Her work has been published in the Wilson Journal of International Affairs, the Virginia Policy Review, the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter, and Morocco World News. She will be starting a Master of Philosophy program in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford this fall.

Sara Amiri, Morocco World News Business Analyst
Sara Amiri – Business Analyst

Sara Amiri is from Casablanca, Morocco and has moved to the United States when she was 17 years old. She graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelor in Finance & Business Law and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She is currently a candidate for an MBA in Finance and IT Management. While pursuing her bachelor degree, she has been very involved in co-curricular activities. She held different leadership positions, such as President of the International Student Association, and founder & President of the Muslim Student Association in Whitewater, Wisconsin. She worked for The Tranel Financial Group in Chicago after her graduation before returning to complete her MBA program in Wisconsin. She Co-Founded Peer2Connect LLC, a provider of social and academic software solutions for universities to meet the needs of their international students. Sara is currently working as a Financial/Business Analyst at Blackthorne Capital Management.