September 12, 2016
John Oliver may have dibs on “Last Week Tonight,” but “Post-Weekend Roundup” is up for grabs, and we’re taking it! Here’s a look at Morocco happenings since last week:
- Weighing in on Gabon: Late last month, citizens of Gabon went to the polls for what has become a hotly contested, and now violent, presidential election. USA Today reported that more than a thousand people were arrested during election-related protests, and the State Department expressed “concern regarding the election.” Through a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Morocco has, too, calling on September 9 for “restraint and wisdom” in Gabon. “The Moroccan and Gabonese peoples are linked by historical ties of brotherhood, cooperation and solidarity,” read the statement. “In this context, the Kingdom of Morocco is strongly committed to the stability of the Gabonese Republic.” More on Morocco’s Africa engagement here.
- Prepping for Elections: Speaking of elections, Morocco’s legislative elections are slated for early October, and campaigning is underway. Middle East Monitor reported last week that “some 4,000 observers from 37 international and local organizations will oversee the Moroccan elections,” “[supervising] the management of polling stations and campaigns as well as the counting of ballots and declaration of results.”
- Friends Help Friends Fight Terrorism: On September 7, Morocco and the US launched a new initiative, the “Group of Friends on Countering and Preventing Violent Extremism,” according to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mohamed Aujjar and Ambassador Keith Harper, US Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, were present. Of course, this is just one of many ways that the US and Morocco cooperate on this issue; and in fact this year Morocco is co-chair of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, originally founded by the US.
- The Strength of Soft Power: Part of Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy is to win the rhetorical battle against extremists, and renowned French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy explained in The Globe and Mail how King Mohammed VI’s recent speech did just that. “On the day of his speech, he is not content to declare war on the jihadis,” said Lévy. “He tells them that the war will be waged on Earth and in heaven. He places them outside the law, not only of men, but also of God.”
- Running and Riding: It’s not all politics and terror-busting in Morocco! The Washington Post’s Jacqueline Kantor profiled Mohamad Ahansal, Morocco’s renowned ultra-marathon runner, and his belief that “When you walk, you enter a country, you become part of the country.” And if you thought you knew everything there was to know about horses in Morocco, you probably thought wrong, as National Geographic “Young Explorers” Grantee Gwyneth Talley blogs us through a whole new game on horseback.
- How to Get There: If you’re in the DC area and suddenly feel the urge to run an ultra-marathon in the Atlas Mountains, you’re in luck! Royal Air Maroc, Morocco’s national airline, just last week launched thrice-weekly direct flights from DC to Casablanca. As former US Ambassador to Morocco Ed Gabriel said, “This direct connection has been centuries in the making.” For all the details, check out our press release.