Archive for the ‘Morocco’ Category

CRS — Morocco: Current Issues

June 26, 2012 Comments off

Morocco: Current Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

King Mohammed VI retains supreme political power in Morocco, but has taken some liberalizing steps with uncertain effects. In 2011, following popular demonstrations that echoed unrest elsewhere in the region, the king proposed a new constitution that may provide greater independence to the Prime Minister, the legislature, and the judiciary. It was overwhelmingly approved in a public referendum. The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) is leading the government for the first time after winning a plurality of seats in November 2011 legislative elections. While the party has been legally recognized for two decades, its leaders continue to grapple with their transition from outsider opposition status to the day-to-day responsibilities of running the government amid an economic downturn and responding to vast and divided expectations. The PJD’s campaign promises to crack down on corruption and cronyism may also place it on a collision course with pro-palace elites. Protests have dwindled since their apogee in early 2011, but sporadic demonstrations continue over economic grievances, and some activists continue to call for deeper changes to the political system.

The U.S. government views Morocco as an important ally against terrorism and as a free trade partner. Congress appropriates foreign assistance funding for Morocco for counterterrorism and socioeconomic development, including in support of a five-year, $697.5 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact agreed to in 2007. Congress also reviews and authorizes Moroccan purchases of U.S. defense articles. U.S. officials have expressed support for Morocco’s political reform efforts while reiterating strong support for the monarchy.

Morocco’s approach to countering terrorism involves security measures, economic reforms, education, international cooperation, and control of religious outlets. Morocco experienced devastating terrorist attacks in 2003, and Moroccan nationals have been implicated in attacks and plots overseas. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a regional criminal-terrorist network, has not mounted a successful attack in Morocco. However, individual Moroccans have joined AQIM outside of the country and the group has reportedly attempted to use Moroccan territory as a transit point for regional smuggling operations.

Morocco’s human rights record is uneven. A number of abuses have been documented along with constraints on freedom of expression. At the same time, the 2004 Family Code is a significant initiative that could improve the socioeconomic rights of women if fully implemented. The king has also sought to provide a public record of abuses perpetrated before he ascended the throne in 1999 and to enhance the rights of ethnic Berbers (Amazigh/Imazighen), the original inhabitants of the region. In 2010, questions about religious freedom arose when foreign Christians were expelled for illegal proselytizing, sparking criticism by some Members of Congress.

Morocco’s foreign policy focuses largely on France, Spain, and the United States. The country is currently serving a two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Relations with Algeria are troubled by the unresolved dispute over the Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco largely occupies and views as an integral part of its national territory. Algeria supports the POLISARIO Front in its quest for the region’s self-determination. Relations between Morocco and Israel are strained, though some 600,000 Moroccan Jews are citizens of Israel. Morocco severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2009, and was invited to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in May 2011. See also CRS Report RS20962, Western Sahara, by Alexis Arieff.

The Rise of Diabetes Prevalence in the Arab Region

May 31, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Open Journal of Epidemiology
Arab populations have many similarities and dissimilarities. They share culture, language and religion but they are also subject to economic, political and social differences. The purpose of this study is to understand the causes of the rising trend of diabetes prevalence in order to suggest efficient actions susceptible to reduce the burden of diabetes in the Arab world.
We use principal component analysis to illustrate similarities and differences between Arab countries according to four variables: 1) the prevalence of diabetes, 2) impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), 3) diabetes related deaths and 4) diabetes related expenditure per person. A linear regression is also used to study the correlation between human development index and diabetes prevalence.
Arab countries are mainly classified into three groups according to the diabetes comparative prevalence (high, medium and low) but other differences are seen in terms of diabetes-related mortality and diabetes related expenditure per person. We also investigate the correlation between the human development index (HDI) and diabetes comparative prevalence (R = 0.81).
The alarming rising trend of diabetes prevalence in the Arab region constitutes a real challenge for heath decision makers. In order to alleviate the burden of diabetes, preventive strategies are needed, based essentially on sensitization for a more healthy diet with regular exercise but health authorities are also asked to provide populations with heath- care and early diagnosis to avoid the high burden caused by complications of diabetes.

Unveiling the Revolutionaries: Cyberactivism and Women’s Role in the Arab Uprisings

May 24, 2012 Comments off
Source: James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy (Rice University)

This research introduces several of the key figures leading the revolutionary convulsions in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen, and explores how young women used social media and cyberactivism to help shape the “Arab Spring” and its aftermath. The engagement of women with social media has coincided with a shift in the political landscape of the Middle East, and it is unlikely that they will ever retreat from the new arenas they have carved out for themselves. Throughout the region, women have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers, translating digital advocacy and organization into physical mobilization and occupation of public spaces in a dialectic of online and offline activism that is particular to this era. They have used citizen journalism and social networking to counter the state-dominated media in their countries and influence mainstream media around the world. In the process, they are reconfiguring the public sphere in their countries, as well as the expectations of the public about the role women can and should play in the political lives of their countries.

Country Specific Information: Morocco

May 29, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Morocco
Source: U.S. Department of State

May 25, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament and independent judiciary; however, ultimate authority rests with the king. The population is estimated to be almost 34 million. While Morocco has a developing economy, modern tourist facilities and means of transportation are widely available, though the quality may vary depending on price and location. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Morocco for additional information.


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