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National Leadership and Cabinet

King: Mohammed VI

Prime Minister: el-Fassi, Abbas

Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries: Akhennouch, Aziz

Minister of Communication & Government Spokesman: Naciri, Khalid

Minister of Culture: Jabrane, Touriya, Ms

Minister of Economy & Finance: Mezouar, Salah Eddine

Minister of Employment & Vocational Training: Aghmani, Jamal

Minister of Energy, Mines, Water & Environment: Benkhadra, Amina, Ms

Minister of Equipment & Transport: Ghellab, Karim

Minister of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation: Fassi al-Fihri, Taïeb

Minister of Foreign Trade: Maâzouz, Abdellatif

Minister of Habous & Islamic Affairs: Taoufiq, Ahmed

Minister of Health: Baddou, Yasmina, Ms

Minister of Housing, Town Planning & Development: Hejira, Ahmed Taoufiq

Minister of Industry, Trade & New Technologies: Chami, Ahmed

Minister of Interior: Benmoussa, Chakib

Minister of Justice: Radi, Adbelwahed

Minister of National Education, Higher Education, Staff Training & Scientific Research: Akhchichine, Ahmed

Minister for Relations with Parliament: Alami, Mohamed Saâd

Minister of Social Development, Family & Solidarity: Skalli, Nouzha, Ms

Minister of State (w/o portfolio): el-Yazghi, Mohamed

Minister of Tourism & Craft Industry: Boussaid, Mohamed

Minister of Youth & Sports: el-Moutawakil, Nawal, Ms

Secretary General of the Government: Rabiah Abdessadek

Delegate Minister to the Prime Minister for National Defense: Sbaï, Abderrahmane

Delegate Minister to the Prime Minister for Economic & General Affairs: Baraka, Nizar

Delegate Minister to the Prime Minister for Public Sectors Modernization: Abbou, Mohamed

Delegate Minister to the Prime Minister for Moroccan Expatriates: Ameur, Mohamed

Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mining, Water and Environment, for Water & Environment: Zahoud, Abdelkébir

Secretary of State to the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Cooperation: Lakhrif, Ahmed

Secretary of State to the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Cooperation: Akherbach, Latifa, Ms

Secretary of State to the Minister of Housing, Town Planning & Development, for Territorial Development: al-Mesbahi, Abdeslam

Secretary of State to the Minister of Interior: Hassar, Saâd

Secretary of State to the Minister of National Education, Higher Education, Staff Training, & Scientific Research, for Primary & Secondary

Education: Labida. Latifa, Ms

Secretary of State to the Minister of Tourism & Craft Industry, for Craft Industry: Birou, Anis

Governor, Central Bank: Jouahri, Abdellatif

1. History

Morocco, on the north-western coast of Africa, dominates the southern shore of the Straits of Gibraltar with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, making it strategically important.

Carthaginian colonies were scattered along the Moroccan coast in ancient times, while the population of the interior was largely Berber-speaking. The territory was added to the Roman Empire after the fall of Carthage. In the 7th and 8th Centuries AD, it was conquered by Arab armies and converted to Islam; gradually, Arabic replaced Berber as the spoken language, although a minority still speak Berber dialects.

In 788 AD, Idris I broke with the Caliphate in Baghdad, and Morocco began its independent history; in fact it has rarely been part of larger empires except when those empires were Moroccan-based, as with the Almoravid state which included Spain.

By the 16th Century, Morocco had become an important Sultanate, confronting Spanish expansion and carrying on diplomatic ties with other European states. Gradually, however, European colonial expansion threatened Moroccan independence. By 1912, the country was partitioned by the European powers, with Tangier forming an international city and Spain and France dividing the country.

French Morocco gained independence under King Mohammed V in 1956. The contiguous Spanish territories were soon incorporated into Morocco, except, initially, for Spanish Sahara, which was retained by Madrid until 1975 — when it was ceded by Spain to Morocco — and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla opposite Gibraltar, which remained under Spanish control.

The country is a constitutional monarchy and has a multi-party system. Real power lies with the Throne, now occupied by King Mohammed VI.

Morocco is staunchly pro-Western, with close ties to the United States and France. It is also increasingly active in inter-Arab and Pan-Islamic movements.

Since 1974, the war for the Western Sahara has occupied Moroccan attention, and led to strained relations with neighboring Algeria, which has consistently sponsored the POLISARIO movement which, although not in control of any Saharan territory, claimed to be the government of an independent Western Sahara which it called the “Sahrawi Republic” (SADR). The issue led, for a period, to some difficulties with the US, which did not recognize Morocco’s annexation of the Western Sahara; but, in 1980, US arms sales to Morocco were resumed. Under the Reagan Administration, arms sales to Morocco were stepped up and restrictions on their use in Western Sahara were tacitly dropped. The success of the “useful triangle” defense system eased the burden of the war, and Morocco’s offer, at the Nairobi Organization for African Unity (OAU) summit in 1981, to hold a referendum on the territory eased diplomatic pressure against the Kingdom. When the self-styled SADR was admitted — without an actual territory under its control, despite a guerilla war it was waging in the territory — to the OAU in early 1982, the organization split along pro-Moroccan and pro-SADR/POLISARIO (Popular Front for the Liberation of Rio de Oro and Saguietal-Hamra) lines. Morocco withdrew from the Organization for African Unity (OAU) in 1984 as a result of the recognition accorded by some OAU states to the SADR.

US-Moroccan ties were strengthened by a 1982 agreement to allow US forces facilities at Moroccan air bases in case of emergency.

In June 1981, labor unrest led to a general strike in urban areas. The strike was suppressed by Government forces, with heavy casualties and widespread arrests. Leaders of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and the Trade Union Confederation (CDT) were arrested. By 1982, some of these leaders had been released.

In January 1983, the second most powerful leader in the country, Gen. Ahmed Dlimi, who was simultaneously in charge of the war in the Sahara, the Royal Aides-de-Camp and the powerful Directorate General of Studies and Documentation (DGED) intelligence service, died in what was officially described as an automobile accident. Extensive purges were reported (unofficially) in the Royal Guard, the Gendarmerie, and the military services, and there was speculation that Dlimi had been eliminated for plotting against the King, although officially his death was accidental.

Soon after Dlimi’s death, in February, King Hassan met with Algerian President Chadli Benjedid in a major step toward rapprochement with Algeria. A broader all-Maghreb summit was anticipated later in 1983. Discussions were said to be under way to seek a compromise on the Sahara. Moroccan officials secretly met with POLISARIO Front leaders, though they denied these meetings had occurred.

Parliamentary elections had been scheduled by September 1983, and when communal and municipal elections were held in June, a number of new political parties participated. A new party led by Prime Minister Maati Bouabid, the Constitutional Union, polled more votes than the Istiqlal, the traditional winner.

But the King suddenly postponed the parliamentary elections, saying they would be held only after the proposed referendum on the Western Sahara, which had been promised by the end of 1983. It was not, however, held.

The King established a multi-party cabinet under technocrat Karim Lamrani in December 1983, partly because it was constitutionally difficult to come up with a budget acceptable to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the absence of a sitting Parliament. The new Cabinet included the leaders of all the major parties, including the socialist USFP.

Before the parliamentary elections were due again in early 1984, they were once more postponed due to serious internal troubles. In January, shortly after food riots broke out in Tunisia, serious rioting shook several Moroccan cities, especially in the north but also in Rabat and Agadir. The King blamed the rioting on “Communists, Khomeiniites, and Zionists”, but many of those arrested belonged to Islamic fundamentalist movements.

As the rescheduled elections neared in September 1984 the King issued amnesties to some political prisoners, though other political opponents staged protest hunger strikes.

In August 1984, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi and King Hassan signed an agreement on an “Arab-African Union”, the exact nature of which was not clearly spelled out. In the aftermath, however, a less pro-Algerian Government took over in Mauritania in December 1984, and while Morocco and Libya pursued very different foreign policies, Moroccans gained some concessions: they were, for example, exempt from the massive expulsions of 1985 as Libya began ousting foreign workers.

Having chaired the previous Arab Summit at Fez, King Hassan was technically the leader of the Arab League. After considerable efforts by Jordan and its friends to call a summit to approve, or at least give a green light to, the Hussein–Arafat/Arab–Israeli peace initiative (see Jordan chapter), King Hassan suddenly called an emergency Summit in Casablanca for August 1985, without full consultation with other Arab states. Syria, South Yemen and Lebanon refused to attend, as did Algeria, presumably for Maghreb power balance reasons. Given the fact that many other states did not send their head-of-state, the summit was inconclusive, but did not openly oppose the Hussein–Arafat initiative.

Domestically, opposition forces remained active through 1985-86, especially by carrying out hunger strikes and other visible efforts to embarrass the Government. But with Prince Sidi Muhammad, the heir apparent, now of age and showing some skill at diplomacy and politics, immediate threats to the Throne seemed somewhat lessened. Hassan II, however, remained very much the central, perhaps sole, political force in the executive, and thus much depended on his health and political security.

The main international development was the visit in July 1986 of Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to Morocco, where he held talks with the King. Whether because clandestine Israeli/Moroccan contacts are known to have gone on for years, or because of a generally-changed attitude in the Arab world following Egypt’s de facto “re-entry”, the Peres visit produced little uproar, especially compared to that evoked in 1977 by Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem. Syria and Libya were the main objectors. Libya broke off its “union” with Morocco under the Oujda Accords, a break welcomed by the US, which had never been comfortable with the Rabat-Tripoli connection. The Peres/Hassan talks were dramatic but produced no concrete results.

In 1987, things heated up. POLISARIO reported that a “sixth wall”, to enclose the southern part of Western Sahara, was under construction. On February 23, POLISARIO launched an attack in the Guelta Zemmour area of the wall, followed two days later by its biggest attack since late 1984, which included the use of armor. Both sides claimed success, but the Moroccans admitted the size of the attack. The new intensity of raids continued for some time and Morocco sought more anti-tank weapons by June. In July, the US Government notified Congress of a Letter of Offer to Morocco for the purchase of 100 M-48A5 tanks, a type Morocco already had in its inventory and so could bring into service quickly.

In retrospect, this was the high water-mark for POLISARIO. It was attempting to stop construction of the sixth wall, and failed. Thereafter, the Moroccan defensive task was easier. In 1987 also, Morocco had a budget surplus for the first time since 1973. The price of its main import, oil, was down and the price of its main export, phosphates, was up, so there was little chance of the economy being strained by the war. From then to the end of 1988, POLISARIO attacks seemed more designed to provide a hook on which a heavy load of propaganda could be hung than a serious military effort.

In May 1988, President Chadli Bendjedid of Algeria, whose economy was in a downswing, met King Hassan at the same point on the border that they had met in 1983, in a Saudi-backed effort to end the Sahara war. POLISARIO was not present. Things moved slowly and quietly, but relations between the two countries improved steadily through 1988, increasingly focused on the idea of the Greater Maghreb. This was a long-held dream of some form of union for the Arab states cut off from the Middle East by the North African desert.

Early in 1989, the plans came together in a scheme for an Arab Maghreb Union, a Common Market-like economic association of Morocco and Algeria with Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya which left the potentially more explosive issues of political union to a later date. The Treaty of the Arab Maghreb Union was signed by the five heads-of-state on February 17, 1989.

POLISARIO, in danger of becoming irrelevant, began a series of talks with Morocco on January 4, 1989. Hassan had previously rejected direct talks with them, but now he felt he was negotiating from strength. At first talks went well and plans were discussed for a referendum in the Western Sahara territory. It was thought this would lead to a solution. POLISARIO announced a military truce to run through February. Then Hassan postponed indefinitely a second meeting due in mid-February. After a period of testing to see if this was a negotiating ploy, POLISARIO announced on March 12, 1989, that fighting would resume.

In 1990 King Hassan made several attempts to introduce political liberalization measures. Critics of the King, such as Muhammad Douiri of the opposition Istiqlal Party, charged that the reforms were not extensive enough. Amnesty International criticized Morocco for human rights violations.

In mid-1990, Morocco’s economy struggled as it attempted to cope with an austerity program laid down and enforced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Also in mid-1990, the nation’s international debt reached $22-billion, and servicing the debt imposed severe strains on the nation’s economy. The national budget deficit and trade deficit both increased; the unemployment rate hovered around 30 percent; the import bill rose; and income from phosphates, the primary import, declined.

Observers cautioned that under prevailing circumstances, if Morocco opened up the political process too rapidly, the main beneficiaries would be the extreme Islamic parties, who had become increasingly active in recent years.

In May 1990, in the largest demonstration ever staged by Islamic fundamentalists in Rabat, some 2,000 demonstrators were detained by the police, with many of the marchers beaten by the security personnel covering the demonstration. Six leaders of Al Adl Wal Ihssane, the outlawed fundamentalist Islamic movement that had been ordered dissolved, were scheduled to appear at the rally.

Faced with a general strike and riots that claimed the lives of 30 people, Prime Minister Azeddine Laraki on December 17, 1990, pledged to raise salaries and improve social welfare programs.

By then popular concern was shifting to disquiet at King Hassan’s support for the coalition against Iraq and the prospect of military action to evict it from Kuwait. In the long-term however, the move was generally agreed to have been politically sound. It was also economically advantageous. In recognition of Morocco’s support, Saudi Arabia wiped out Moroccan debts of over $3-billion after the Gulf War.

France and Morocco signed an agreement on scientific and technical cooperation in the field of nuclear energy on April 19, 1991.

King Hassan’s declared intention to join, or at least closely associate with, the European Community, was hindered by the perceived lack of democracy in the Moroccan political system. On August 11, 1992, the King dismissed the seven-year old Government of Prime Minister Azeddine Laraki and appointed Mohammed Karim Lamrani as Prime Minister of a new 28-man Government. Although all 29 appointments were decided by King Hassan, a reminder of one way the system fell short of western ideas of democracy, the new Government’s purpose was to supervise forthcoming elections. The King said that the country was on the eve of important developments, including a referendum on a new constitution, to be followed by three sets of elections.

Constitutional reforms were endorsed by an overwhelming majority in a referendum on September 1992. However, the exact nature of the majority seemed a little too good to be true: 99.6 percent overall, rising to 100 percent in the cities and three of the four Western Sahara provinces. The figures served rather as a reminder of the electoral manipulation which was supposed to be in the past, especially as the main opposition parties urged their supporters to abstain and the two main trade unions called for a “no” vote.

Even so, local elections held in October were generally agreed to have been fairer than usual. Local Government officials put less pressure on the electorate. When some candidates spent spectacular amounts of money in the campaign, the public outcry forced the Government to bar them. This was especially embarrassing for a combination of three factors. Most of the barred candidates were from the Constitutional Union (UC) and National Assembly of Independents (RNI), the two parties which provide the Government with its majority in Parliament. The money was believed to be the proceeds of cannabis exports, a trade estimated to bring in up to $2-billion a year in the otherwise impoverished north of the country. At the time, the Moroccan Government was seeking European Community aid to develop the north and eradicate cannabis production.

Improvements in free speech and human rights continued. The press was still controlled, but less so than in most Arab countries. In April 1993, a report by Amnesty International said that the Moroccan situation had shown “positive changes in recent years”, but hundreds who had disappeared over 10 years before were still unaccounted for. The majority came from Western Sahara, which was one of the two topics still barred to criticism. The other was the Monarchy.

The first round of the first general election for nine years was held on June 25, 1993. It was hoped that they would be more verifiably democratic than those in the past. In any case, the biggest problem was expected to be voter apathy, intensified here by lack of real choice. All 11 parties promised improvements in health, education and employment and a reduction in corruption. The two main opposition parties, the Istiqlal Party (PI) and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), fought a combined campaign.

In the event, neutral observers reported that the first round of voting was unusually fair. After the poor showing of the “government” parties, the second round reverted to the old style of corruption, but this could not stop large PI and USFP gains.

In September 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Rabat on his way home from the Washington meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief Yasir Arafat. It was a reminder that under King Hassan, Morocco had called the shots correctly on relations with Israel, support for Kuwait in the Gulf War and implementation of UN sanctions against Libya. However, hopes that diplomatic relations with Morocco could be opened immediately were not realized. Moroccan policy remains to work slowly and carry mass opinion along with, or at least not too far behind, any moves.

The results of the indirect parliamentary elections to elect the remaining third of the House of Representatives were announced on September 17, 1993, as follows: 27 Constitutional Union, 18 Popular Movement, 13 National Rally of independents, 11 National Popular Movement, 10 National Democratic Party, 7 Istiqlal, 6 Party of Choura and Istiqlal, 4 Socialist Union of Popular Forces, 4 Party of Progress and Socialism, 4 Democratic Labour Confederation, 3 Moroccan Labour Union, 2 General Union of Moroccan Workers, 2 independents.

This along with the results of the June 25, 1993, election complete the voting for the House of Representatives and gives the results (according to blocs): 154 National Accord parties, 122 Democratic Bloc parties, 41 National Rally of Independents, 9 Party of Choura and Istiqlal, 3 Moroccan Labour Union, 2 Action Party, 2 independents.

King Hassan dismissed the Cabinet on November 9, 1993, and appointed Mohamed Khan Lamrani Prime Minister and entrusted him to form a new Cabinet as soon as possible.

In January 1994, King Hassan set up the Comité de Suivi et d’Impulsion des Investissements (CISI), to help foreign investors who encounter problems establishing businesses in Morocco. It was a further stage in the policy of encouraging foreign investment, already spurred by the privatization program. Both foreign investment and privatization were helping to cover the budget deficit

King Hassan II dismissed Prime Minister Lamrani on May 25, 1994, and appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Abdellatif Filali as his successor. The new Prime Minister would propose a new cabinet to the King.

During March, April and May 1995, the European Union (EU) and Morocco failed to extend a 1992 fishing agreement, which expired on April 30, 1995, allowing Spanish and Portuguese fishing vessels to use Moroccan waters. By mid-June Morocco had banned the fishing vessels of both countries.

The end of June 1995 found King Hassan walking a thin line trying to accommodate the growing Islamist movement while nurturing an emerging capital market. The economic worlds of the two were vastly apart. King Hassan had been unable to translate the fruits of the economic reforms, which had brought tall mirrored buildings, to the average Moroccan.

The breakdown in talks over an EU fishing accord with Morocco on August 28, 1995, brought the relationship between Rabat and Brussels to one of its lowest points ever. Although European fishing rights in Moroccan waters were at the center of the dispute, it reflected tensions on a wider issue: the attempts to negotiate an association agreement encompassing an enhanced aid package and the eventual creation of a free trade agreement. The EU sought a new three-year pact to replace an agreement that expired at the end of April 1995, to let mainly Spanish boats return to Morocco’s rich Atlantic fishing grounds. Morocco had demanded drastic fishing cuts to protect stocks. After renewed attempts, the EU and Morocco initialed a new four-year fisheries agreement on November 13, 1995, that would allow mainly Spanish vessels to return to Moroccan fishing grounds. The EU undertook to reduce fishing in Moroccan waters and land part of its catch in Moroccan ports.

Morocco, alongside 23 other countries, signed an agreement on December 4, 1995, on fishing in the high seas at the United Nations headquarters in New York. According to the agreement, the regional fishing organizations will assume responsibility for rationalizing fishing in the areas under the countries’ sovereignty.

In Morocco, 14 people, four of them Algerian, were charged with arms trafficking for the Algerian Islamists, on December 9, 1995.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs, Mr Robert Pelletreau, on a visit to Morocco on December 11, 1995, discussed developments in the Western Sahara.

King Hassan received the Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Morocco on December 13, 1995.

The Prime Minister, Abdellatif Filali, promised 1,200 Moroccan soldiers for the Bosnian peace force, on December 14, 1995.

Opposition leader Abdessalem Yacine was placed under house arrest on December 17, 1995.

Morocco and Poland signed a joint declaration in Warsaw on January 15, 1996, which stressed interest in a free trade agreement once Morocco joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Moroccan Prime Minister, Abdellatif Filali, reiterated Morocco’s readiness to continue its cooperation with the United Nations on the holding of the referendum in Western Sahara, when he conferred with Mr Chinmaya Gharekhan, UN Undersecretary-General on January 3, 1996. The Moroccan authorities wished to see the referendum held as soon as possible.

The Spanish Prime Minister, Filipe Gonzalez, on a visit to Morocco reaffirmed on February 5, 1996, Spain’s support for the UN and its efforts to organize the referendum in Western Sahara. Spain also granted Morocco the first installment of a loan to study the first stage of construction of the railway tunnel which could link Morocco and Spain under the Strait of Gibraltar.

A commission to investigate drug trafficking and money laundering was set up in Morocco on February 12, 1996. The commission will include 20 members from a cross-section of political parties in the Parliament which will be proportionally represented.

Moroccans voted in constitutional reforms on September 12, 1996. Under the existing system the directly elected opposition in the 333-seat unicameral legislature were overwhelmed by indirectly elected members occupying a third of the seats. Under the new system members of the Chamber of Representatives were all directly elected, and their term cut from six years to five. A new upper house, the Chamber of Councilors, was created, its members chosen by electoral colleges, mostly represented local councils, with the remainder coming from professional associations and unions.

A system of checks and balances enabled the upper house to initiate legislation, to issue “warning” motions to the Government — by a two-thirds majority vote — to force its resignation.

Moroccan officials denied the new chamber was designed to neutralize the lower house. They said the reform was continuing a gradual process of liberalization. The monarch retained the power to dissolve Parliament, appoint and sack governments, and call referendums.

However, the authorities concerned about the growing influence of Islamist organizations were not yet prepared to let them stand as political parties. Police clashed with students trying to celebrate weekly prayers at a university in Casablanca on February 16, 1997, as the Government sought to quell Muslim fundamentalists protests. The police moved to break up the group when it tried to conduct prayers at the School of Juridical and Economic Sciences at the University of Casablanca.

The Government had recently begun to crack down on growing protests and violence by Muslim fundamentalist students.

In trials in January 1997, 32 students were convicted and sentenced to between three months and two years in prison, sparking new protests.

While the protesters demanded better housing and transportation, a wider agenda was seen as the students were supporters of Abdessalam Yacine’s banned Islamic group Al Adl Wal Ihssane.

In a separate spate of violence, a Moroccan national was killed by Algerian soldiers on the common border between the two countries on June 5, 1997. An opposition member was arrested on the eve of local elections on June 12. Four people were killed in skirmishes after the elections. On June 19, a new group of “Moroccan Saharawi” fled from a POLISARIO stronghold in Algeria to Morocco.

Morocco and the POLISARIO had agreed in 1992 to a UN plan to hold a referendum among the Saharawi (ethnic-Saharans) to choose between integration and independence. Intractable differences delayed the referendum for six years. Former US Secretary of State, James Baker, appointed a UN special envoy, embarked on a fact-finding mission in late April 1997 to prevent the renewal of the war threatened by the POLISARIO. Mr Baker held talks with King Hassan of Morocco and Algerian leaders. The UN gave both sides a deadline of May 31, 1997, to hold the poll. On May 3, 1997, UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan asked for an extension of the UN Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a further four months. Mr Baker visited the area again in June and Morocco and the POLISARIO held direct talks in Lisbon on June 23. A UN commission said on July 27, 1998, that it had so far identified more than 140,000 would-be voters for a ballot on the future of disputed Western Sahara. The plebiscite was now due to take place on December 7, 1998. The UN Security Council voted on July 20, 1998, to extend for two months — until September 21 — its operation in the Western Sahara.

Morocco’s independent human rights association (AMDH) on July 17, 1997, criticized the Government’s human rights record, saying it had failed to resolve the issue of disappearances and rising unemployment. Also, the London-based Amnesty International said in a report in June that the fate was still unknown of some 500 people, mainly Western Saharans who disappeared between 1964 and 1987. The Government dismissed the charges, saying the report lacked impartiality.

King Hassan II on August 14, 1997, reshuffled the country’s Cabinet, appointing technocrats to head several ministries and bringing in four women. The reshuffle followed the King’s dismissal of 19 of the 36 ministers to allow them to focus on their electoral campaign in the run-up to legislative elections expected by October. Among the departing ministers was Finance Minister Mohamed Kabbaj.

Legislative elections went ahead on November 14, 1997. No political bloc won a clear majority in the 325-seat lower house. The opposition emerged with a total of 102 seats against 100 seats for the pro-Government parties and 97 for the center-right, with the rest going to smaller parties.

Officials of the main opposition USFP, which emerged as the largest party, said Government promises of a free and fair election were not respected and widespread vote-buying by pro-Government parties was tolerated at polling stations.

Islamist candidates running on the ticket of an old inactive party won nine seats in the elections, but claimed the Government had stripped them of an additional three seats. Still, this meant there was a token Islamist representation in Parliament for the first time. The larger Islamist movement, Al Adl Wal Ihssane, was barred from forming a political party.

King Hassan II appointed Abderrahmane Youssoufi, leader of the USFP, as Prime Minister on February 4, 1998, bringing an opposition figure to the head of the Government for the first time in his 37-year reign. With the Parliament split almost equally three ways, a coalition was inevitable and was not formed until March 1998. The King needed a stable government in the run-up to the politically crucial referendum in the Western Sahara to decide whether the former Spanish colony should be formally incorporated into Morocco or if it should be independent. It made sense to install a government more committed to social issues and employment given the recent unrest among students and labour.

For the first time in Moroccan history, a civilian was appointed Head of the Defense Ministry to replace outgoing four-star army General Mohamed Achahbar. A handover ceremony was presided over by the Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed.

AMDH called for the release of all political prisoners, including Sheikh Abdessalam Yacine, leader of the outlawed Muslim fundamentalist Al Adl Wal Ihssane (Justice and Charity) group, under house arrest since 1990. Some 50 political prisoners, mostly Muslim fundamentalists, were being held in the country’s jails, human rights groups said. AMDH also urged the authorities to allow the return of marxist-leninist leader Abraham Serfaty from exile in France. Morocco’s Supreme Court had on July 16, 1998, turned down Serfaty’s demand to return, his latest in a nearly seven-year campaign since he was expelled to France in 1991 on his release from 17 years in jail for plotting to overthrow King Hassan. AMDH also criticized the deteriorating economic situation and rising unemployment. Unemployment was officially estimated at 17 percent of the five-million urban workforce. The rights group also called for quick action to reform Morocco’s legal procedures against political opponents. It said many prisoners covered by a general amnesty announced by King Hassan in 1994 had not been able finally to settle their status, while others had been banned from traveling abroad by being unable to get passports.

Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi on July 16, 1998, said Morocco sought to boost bilateral ties with other Maghreb countries to revive their frozen grouping. Youssoufi had just completed a three-day visit to Tunisia during which he co-chaired with Tunisian Prime Minister Hamed Karoui the sixth meeting of the two countries’ higher joint commission. The five-nation Arab Maghreb Union had not held any of its annual summits since 1994 because of a dispute between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara issue.

Youssoufi and Karoui said they hoped a Moroccan and Tunisian employers’ associations initiative, announced during the visit to set up a joint business council, would boost investment and trade between the two countries. They also expressed readiness to coordinate their positions in talks with the EU for the implementation of the free trade zone accords they had both signed with the EU. Trade exchanges between the two countries totaled only 90.2-million dinars ($78.1-million) in 1997, down from 93.6-million dinars in 1996. Youssoufi left Tunis after handing Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali a message from King Hassan II.

Prime Minister El Youssoufi on July 24, 1998, called for his country’s frontier with Algeria to be opened and visa requirements to be scrapped. Bilateral relations were burdened by Morocco’s objections to Algeria’s support for the POLISARIO Front. The two countries’ frontier was closed in 1994 after a Moroccan-Algerian gang carried out an attack on an hotel in the southern Moroccan city of Marrakesh in which two Spaniards were killed.

Hundreds of unemployed graduates protesting for jobs were injured and arrested by riot police October 27, 1998. It was the first demonstration against the Government of Socialist Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi since it was appointed in March 1998.

King Hassan II, 70, died of a heart attack on July 23, 1999, after entering hospital to be treated for pneumonia. King Hassan, 17th in the Alawite dynasty which had ruled Morocco for 400 years, was immediately succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed, 36, who took the title of King Mohammed VI. King Hassan's health had been fragile for some years, and Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed had been increasingly groomed to be prepared to take office. He had represented his father at the funeral of King Hussein, of Jordan, in February 1999. As Crown Prince, Sidi Mohammed had been Coordinator of Bureau and Services of the Royal Armed Forces, and thus had maintained good links with the Armed Forces.

King Mohammed VI granted royal pardons to over 700 inmates August 1, 1999, soon after he took office.

Interior Minister Driss Basri was dismissed by King Mohammed VI according to reports on November 9, 1999.  He was replaced by Ahmed Midaoui, the former head of national security.

The Royal Family issued a statement on December 19, 1999, saying that the family was no longer linked to Fouad Filali and adding that his problems fell within the scope of justice. Filali, former chief of the ONA and ex-husband to Princess Lalla Meriem, was alleged to have been involved in a large-scale money laundering operation.

Humanitarian assistance was sent to Venezuela on December 19, 1999, following massive floods and landslides there. 

The Government expressed its shock and disappointment on January 18, 2000, that the Sahrawis tribe was not admitted as voters in the UN-planned referendum in the Sahara. The Government said the action only confirmed the worries and fears it had repeatedly expressed to the UN Secretary General and security council regarding the misuse of oral testimonies.

Two earthquakes hit Morocco in the week of January 16, 2000, near the north-eastern city of Nador. Local authorities said that the earthquakes measured 3.2 and 3.4 degrees on the Richter scale. There were no casualties or serious material damage. There were several earthquakes of the same magnitude throughout the area over a short time span.

A Moroccan citizen, Youssef Karroum, was detained by Canadian officials on January 30, 2000, for suspected involvement in terrorist plots in Seattle during the 1999-2000 New Years celebration. The US Justice Department claimed Karroum had relations with Ahmed Ressam who was found with a car full of explosives in Los Angeles on December 14, 1999.

US Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, agreed to increased Moroccan-US joint military maneuvers on February 13, 2000. A high ranking-Moroccan military delegation was to travel to Washington to explore opportunities of an enlarged dialogue to improve joint maneuvers and consider other multilateral initiatives with countries involved in the Mediterranean initiative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

On March 15, 2000, the Government voiced its wish to conclude free trade accords with Latin American countries.

A drought began in April 2000 which caused the Government to spend 3.44-billion dirhams  in relief effort in order to safeguard livestock, drinking water supplies, crops and rural communities. The US contributed US$25,000 along with the Catholic Relief Services' US$11,165 towards the purchase of water tanks and jerrycans for drinking water. 

UN special envoy for the Western Sahara James Baker began talks with Moroccan leaders on Monday, April 10, 2000, as the Government and the Algerian-backed POLISARIO rejected self-rule as a possible solution to the long-standing dispute. The former US Secretary of State met King Mohammed VI and was expected to meet Socialist Prime Minister Abderrahmane El Youssoufi later, officials said. Mr Baker arrived in Rabat, Morocco, on April 9, 2000, after talks with Algerian officials and leaders of the POLISARIO Front at their headquarters in the Algerian town of Tindouf. “We want to see if there is a way to unlock the logjam, either by resolving the differences that the parties now have over the settlement plan or perhaps even see some other approaches that finally, fairly and fully resolve the dispute over the Western Sahara,” Baker said in Algiers.

A referendum over whether the former Spanish colony would be incorporated into Morocco, which controls most of the territory, or become independent as called for by the POLISARIO, had been repeatedly delayed since 1992. The ballot was to have taken place a year after a UN-brokered peace plan in 1991 ended a 15-year guerilla war over the territory. The delay had been blamed on differences between the two sides over who should be allowed to vote.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had said the ballot might never be held and asked Mr Baker, his special envoy for the territory, to make a new attempt to break the deadlock.

Former head of staff at the Communication Ministry Mohamed Alili, committed suicide May 3, 2000, after several complaints  forced him to leave his job in January 2000. He was summoned to appear before a disciplinary committee May 10, 2000, to answer charges of misuse of documents, mishandling of administrative files and other wrongdoing.

The Moroccan Supreme Court blocked the sentence of Captain Mustapha Adib on June 9, 2000. Adib was sentenced in February 2000 by the military court to a five-year jail term for "violation of military orders" and "slander to the army". The Supreme Court also decided to return the case to the military court.

King Mohammed VI called for a Morocco-US strategic partnership on June 20, 2000. He requested cooperation in a range of ongoing reforms to accelerate economic growth and offer foreign investors the best conditions of security and profit. The sovereign also stressed the special ties between Washington and Rabat and highlighted Morocco's dedication to human rights and democracy. During his visit to the US on June 20, 2000, he voiced his determination to contribute to reactivating the Middle East peace process and carry on the work initiated by his late father. US President Bill Clinton agreed that solid ties with Morocco should be consolidated, and complimented the country's contribution to peace efforts in both the Middle-East and in eastern Europe.

Abdelouahed Belqziz was unanimously elected Secretary General to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) on June 30, 2000. Belqziz would replace Azeddine Laraki whose four-year term ended in December 2000.

Archeologists discovered on July 8, 2000, a necropolis near the northern town of Larache dating to the Mauritanian era, from the end of the Sixth Century to the Third Century BCE.

Five Moroccans were killed on July 16, 2000, in a ferry boat collision off the southern port of Algeciras.  The Moroccan Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Taieb Fassi Fihri, demanded that Spain give clarification of the circumstances.  A meeting was planned for July 17, 2000, in Rabat with Spain's ambassador to Morocco, Jorge Dezcallar.

A Moroccan independent commission for human rights abuses reported on July 17, 2000, that 68 cases had been settled. More than 140-million dirhams of compensation was extended to victims of arbitrary detention and to families of missing loved ones.

After numerous disagreements and negative rhetoric between Morocco and Qatar, the Government officially recalled its ambassador to Qatar, Mohamed Ben Larbi Dilai, on July 18, 2000. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation stated that the Government "had been lately noting with amazement and regret the various stands and attitudes adopted by the brotherly country of Qatar, both at the political and at the media levels". 

Government officials applauded Nicaragua's decision on July 23, 2000, to freeze recognition of the puppet Sahrawi republic "SADR" during an official visit by the Vice President. In an attempt to consolidate Morocco-Nicaragua relations and promote a rapprochement, the Moroccan Government suppressed the visa requirement for Nicaraguans visiting Morocco.

The first anniversary of King Mohammed VI's enthronement was celebrated on July 31, 2000.  The King used the occasion to promote his brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, to the rank of brigadier along with other generals. He also announced that the supreme council of Ulema and the regional councils of Ulema would be restructured to better fullfil their tasks.

The World Bank reported on August 5, 2000, that Morocco was the largest recipient of loans among Middle East and North African countries receiving nearly US$8-million in loans for the year 2000.

Moroccan officials met with Administrator of the US space agency NASA, Daniel Goldin, on August 22, 2000, to discuss bilateral cooperation. NASA was interested in Morocco's specialized infrastructure which could help service future space trips. Cooperation agreements were signed for scientific research, desert encroachment and rainfalls and sea eco-system.

By September 2000, the white fly had damaged an estimated 200,000 tons of tomato crops in Agadir greatly effecting the agricultural economy. The white fly, which appeared in the 1950s in the Middle East, Turkey and Greece, moved in the 1980s to Spain and then to Morocco after contaminated tomato seeds were bought by Moroccan farmers.

King Mohammed VI appointed a new cabinet during an official ceremony on September 6, 2000, downsizing the number of ministerial positions from 43 to 33.

Parliamentary elections were held on September 15, 2000, in which 620 candidates ran for election to renew one third of the 270 members of the Chamber of Advisors. The National Rally of Independents center party won the elections by renewing 14 seats in the upper chamber. The National Popular Movement came in second with 12 seats and the National Democrat Party ranked third with 10 seats.

Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi attended the eighth session of the Moroccan-Tunisian high joint commission in Tunisia on September 22, 2000. The two countries signed nine cooperation agreements dealing with security, civil protection, local communities, housing, environment, and women promotion. That same week Youssoufi renewed a wish to see relations between Morocco and Algeria normalized saying he would like to meet with the new Algerian Prime Minister, Ali Ben Flis, to discuss opening borders.

A Moroccan delegation led by Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Mohamed Benaissa and Interior Minister Ahmedn El Midaoui attended a Meeting on the Sahara issue in Berlin on September 28, 2000.

Morocco increased its financial support of Palestinians in October 2000, as fighting intensified in the region and peace talks broke down. Some Moroccan associations called for people to donate one day's salary for the Palestinian cause. A Moroccan military aircraft landed October 4, 2000, in Gaza with a cargo of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the area in response to the recent violence. Medical staff, 12.3 tonnes of medical equipment and drugs, as well as two tonnes of blankets were on board the C-130 aircraft.

Rabat police dismantled a syndicate which specialized in forging dollars bills on October 7, 2000. In September, the Kenitra police thwarted an attempt to put into circulation about one-million dollars in forged banknotes. Security officials had already arrested 18 persons for similar offences.

King Mohammed left Libya on January 16, 2001, after a 24-hour visit ostensibly designed to boost economic cooperation and political dialogue between the two states. It was the King’s first trip to Libya since he succeeded his father, King Hassan, in July 1999. King Mohammed then left for Cameroon, where he was to attend the Franco-African summit on January 17, 2001.

The King was accompanied by a delegation including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Agriculture, Trade and Transport. Libya and Morocco were members of the five-nation Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) but their bilateral trade remained below potential at around 1.46-billion Moroccan dirhams ($138-million) per year.

The Moroccan economy was expected to achieve a 6.1 percent growth rate in 2002, according to forecasts made public on August 13, 2001, by le Centre Marocain de Conjoncture (CMC) in Rabat. According to the Center, 2002 could mark a turning point and the start of a sustained growth cycle in case a genuine revival policy was initiated to match the favorable economic juncture expected during the year. CMC experts said that the revival would be made possible mainly thanks to a $650-million program to combat drought, and to a program meant to give momentum to the economy and which was financed by the Hassan II fund. That program was worth 7-billion DH (appr. $608-million). The CMC also said the trade deficit which seriously worsened in 2001 would be curbed in 2002 thanks to the improvement of exports of agricultural products and of phosphates and phosphates by-products. In 2002, exports were expected to score a 7.8 percent increase while imports would progress by six percent.

Moroccan Minister of Interior Driss Jettou on March 28, 2002, acknowledged that economic regionalization was an inevitable path towards competitiveness. Minister Jettou told the opening session of a meeting in Casablanca on regionalization and local development that Morocco had embarked on a vast movement of reforms which touched all political, economic, social and cultural realms. Regional investment centers were designed to contribute to the creation of enterprises, backing investments and regional economy and competitiveness. The Government was currently studying a series of measures, the prime objective being to create a renovated and modern territorial, economic and social management, he said, calling on the private sector to contribute to the drive.

On April 2, 2002, two new political parties — Al-Ahd, and “Initiative, Development and Citizenship” — announced their establishment. Chairman of Al-Ahd Congress preparatory committee, Najib Ouazzani told Morocco’s first TV channel that the party would endeavor to moralize political life. President of the party Initiative, Development and Citizenship, Mohamed Benhammou, said his party, a democratic, social and ecological movement, aimed to defend Morocco’s territorial integrity, and foster citizen awareness as to development, environment protection, and participation in politics and public affairs.

Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mohamed Benaissa, on April 12, 2002, briefed the Government on the latest developments of Moroccan-Spanish relations in light of recent contacts between the two countries’ officials. Moroccan-Spanish relations strained in early 2002 because of Spain’s handling of bilateral ties and of Moroccan issues, especially the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. To protest Spain’s stands, Morocco called back its ambassador to Madrid for consultation in October 2001.

Moroccan Education Minister Abdellah Saaf was in New Dehli on April 16, 2002, seeking a means to upgrade cooperation with India in matters of training, particularly in English teaching and information technologies. He reviewed, with Indian Minister of Human Resources Development, Murli Manohar Joshi, various aspects related to bilateral cooperation, which was given a new impetus following the visit King Mohammed VI paid to India in February 2001. The Moroccan educational system, which was being reformed, could benefit from the Indian experience, especially in terms of sciences and information technology, Saaf told Joshi. The Indian official invited Morocco to benefit from the Asian sub-continent’s IT breakthroughs and proposed to consider the possibility to make, under license, the Indian computer, Simputer, in Morocco.

The Indian Simputer, a simple computer costing $200, was developed in 2001 by engineers in Bangalore, India. The inhabitants of a village, without electricity, could use the Simputer, available in English and in three local languages. Icons, replacing characters, figures and functions, allowed access to illiterates who could use the Simputer to learn to write, read and count. Saaf and Joshi agreed to set an exchange program that would provide for sending Indian trainers to Moroccan universities and institutes and the creation of network links between the most prestigious Moroccan and Indian institutions. On July 3, 2002, Morocco and Japan also signed an accord for cooperation on information technology (IT) exchanges.

The Morrocan Government, in June 2002, arrested a 10-member group which it said was linked with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist organization. Zuhair Hilal Mohamed al-Tabiti, a Saudi Arabian national, was the main suspect of the group arrested for allegedly planning attacks on US and British warships in the Strait of Gibraltar. The Saudi Government appointed a lawyer to defend al-Tabiti — who headed an “Islamist rights group” — and two other Saudis, Hilal Jaber Aouad al Assiri and Abdullah M’Sfer Ali al-Ghamdi, arrested in the group. The lawyer for al-Tabiti said that his client was in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was based, before the September 11, 2002, terrorist attacks on the US for “purely humanitarian purposes”. Moroccan security officials had said that the three Saudi nationals had confessed that bin Laden had ordered them to attack Moroccan and Western interests, including those in the Strait of Gibraltar which separates Morocco from Spain.

Recent Developments

It was announced on June 28, 2002, that Parliamentary elections, which had been planned to take place in late September 2002, could be delayed by a few weeks until October 2002 to allow independent candidates to run. The Constitutional Council, which oversees constitutional changes and elections, had instructed the Government to reform a law which prevented independent candidates from running for Parliament. Decisions by the council, which also advises the King, cannot be appealed.

Morocco was to hold the delayed official celebrations of King Mohammed’s wedding on July 12, 2002. The two days of public festivities of the wedding planned for April 2002 in the tourist city of Marrakesh were cancelled due to the situation in the Middle East. The King married computer engineer Salma Bennani in March 2002 in a private religious ceremony, and later in a public ceremony in July 2002. This was the first public marriage ceremony for a Moroccan King.

King Mohammed on November 8, 2002, announced the line-up of the new coalition Government, but allocated no posts to the Islamic party, Justice and Development, which had tripled its vote in the September 2002 elections, winning 42 seats to become the third-larges party in Parliament. The 31-strong cabinet, under Prime Minister Driss Jettou, maintained a similar balance to previous governments, with the Socialist Union of Forces for Progress sharing power with the nationalist Istiqlal Party. Three key ministers from the previous Government kept their posts: Mohamed Benaissa remains Minister for Foreign Affairs; Fatallah Oualalou continued as Finance Minister and Mohamed El-Yazghi retained the post responsible for territorial development. The most significant change was the replacement of Justice Minister Omar Azziman with another Socialist, lawyer Mohamed Bouzoubaa. In the election of September 27, 2002, the Socialist Union narrowly won 50 seats; Istiqlal won 48. Businessman and former Interior Minister in the previous Government, Driss Jettou, 57, was named Prime Minister in October 2002, replacing the Socialist Abderrahmane Youssoufi.

A Casablanca court in February 2003 jailed three Saudi members of al-Qaida for 10 years after they were accused of plotting to attack US and British warships in the Straits of Gibraltar in 2002.

A major earthquake — 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale — devastated parts of the northern coast of Morocco on February 24, 2004, leaving more than 500 people killed and hundreds more injured. The earthquake destroyed rural communities near the coastal city of al-Hoceima, a tourist destination on the Mediterranean

A series of suicide bombings struck the commercial capital, Casablanca, on May 16, 2003. They were the deadliest terrorist attacks in that country’s history, and targeted the city’s Jewish area. The attacks were carried out by 14 members — most between 20 and 24 years of age — of the North African terrorist group Salafiya Jihadiya. In the most significant attack, bombers wearing explosives knifed a guard at the Casa de España restaurant, and then blew themselves up inside the building, killing 20 people, many of them dining and playing bingo. The five-star Hotel Farah was bombed next, killing a guard and a porter. Another bomber killed three passersby as he attempted to bomb a Jewish cemetery. Two additional bombers attacked a Jewish community center, but killed no-one because the building was closed and empty. Another bomber attacked a Jewish-owned Italian restaurant, and another blew up near the Belgian consulate, located meters away from the restaurant, killing two police officers. Twelve bombers and 32 civilians died in the attacks. Two bombers were arrested before they could carry out attacks. More than 100 people were injured. Eight of the dead were Europeans (three Spaniards among them) and the rest were Moroccan.

King Mohammed IV of Morocco said on July 30, 2003, that religiously-, ethnically- or regionally-based political parties in the country would be banned. In essence, however, the ban applied to Islamist parties, those political groupings using Islam as a vehicle for politics. The King, a sharif — a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed — has a strong spiritual as well as temporal leadership rôle in Morocco, which has a population which is 99 percent Muslim. He was speaking on the fourth anniversary of his accession to the throne, but significantly he was speaking just more than two months after bomb blasts in Casablanca killed 44 people. Trials resumed in Morocco on July 31, 2003, of hundreds of suspected Islamist terrorists, including many not linked with the attacks. On August 4, 2003, the Moroccan court sentenced four of the accused — one organizer of the attacks, and three other suicide bombers who backed out of the attacks at the last minute — to death.

The King said that parties with a “religious, ethnic or regional base” would be outlawed, adding: “No one can use Islam as a trampoline to power in the name of religion, or to perpetrate terrorist acts.” The King said that he would immediately push a law through parliament to ban “parties or groups claiming to monopolize Islam”.

The King’s measure would close down the Justice and Development Party, a moderate Islamic party opposed to violence, which has become the country’s third strongest party. The King said that he would not permit the spread of “religious doctrines alien to Moroccan traditions”. This was seen as a reference to the influence of Saudi Arabia, whose radical Wahhabist interpretations of Sunni Islam were said to have stirred up fundamentalism in Morocco’s poor areas and unofficial mosques. The King blamed local authorities for allowing slums to proliferate.

Meanwhile, on July 29, 2003, Algeria offered to re-establish links with Morocco. Algerian Pres. Abdelaziz Bouteflika told Morocco that he wanted “to close ranks and strengthen relations ... between our two countries”. Algeria also suffers from a major terrorist problem caused by Islamists, but the two countries remain opposed over the question of the future of Western Sahara, which Morocco claims as an integral part of the Kingdom. A UN deadline to resolve the Western Sahara conflict expired on July 31, 2003, with no resolution. There were signs of movement towards resolution when the POLISARIO Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguiet al-Hamra and Rio de Oro) signaled recently that it could accept autonomy within Morocco

US Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and Moroccan Minister-Delegate of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Taib Fassi-Fihri on June 15, 2004, signed the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, a pact designed to expand opportunities for the workers, manufacturers, consumers, farmers, ranchers and service providers of both Morocco and the United States. The agreement was regarded an important step towards US Pres. George W. Bush’s vision of a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013. The Treaty was subsequently ratified by the US Congress on July 22, 2004.

Hundreds of Africans attempting to enter European territory tried during September and October 2005 to storm across Morocco’s borders into the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. A number of the Africans were killed in the attempt, many as they were crushed during the storming of the three meter high security fences defining the borders of the Spanish enclaves. Some 40 would-be immigrants managed to get into Melilla. Dozens of Moroccan police were injured in the waves of border-crossing attempts. Morocco subsequently deported hundreds of the illegal migrants who were mostly from sub-Saharan African states. Morocco claims sovereignty over both Spanish-occupied enclaves.

Morocco’s Equity and Reconciliation Commission (EIC) on December 16, 2005, delivered its final report on four decades of alleged human rights abuses under the late King Hassan II.
The report said that between independence in 1956 and the end of King Hassan’s reign in 1999, 592 people were killed. The 17-member commission, set up in January 2004, heard from 16,861 people, and assessed whether victims should be given compensation and how much they should receive.

Following a visit to Western Sahara by King Mohammed VI in late March 2006, 30 Sahrawi prisoners were released by royal pardon. The pro-independence Sahrawis were given a heroes' welcome in the towns of El Aaiun and Smara, which turned into popular riots demanding the release of other 37 activists. During the clashes with Moroccan police, where several persons were injured, more Sahrawis were arrested. Western Saharan independence activists — supported by Algeria — had alleged that there were almost 100 detentions, while Morocco recognized only four remaining activists in detention.

The Nigerian and Moroccan governments in April 2006 began cooperating on the deportation back to Nigeria of some 6,000 Nigerian nationals in Morocco in an attempt to migrate illegally into the European Union.

Parliamentary elections on September 7, 2007, saw a coalition of non-Islamist parties led by the incumbent coalition Istiqlal Party (Hizb al-Istiqlal/Parti d'Independence) and Socialist Union of People’s Forces (Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires, USFP) retained power. The main gainers in the election were the pro-government liberal Mouvement Populaire and the Union Constitutionelle. The pro-government Party of Progress and Socialism (Parti du Progres et du Socialisme) gained modestly, as did the opposition Justice and Development Party (Parti de la Justice at du Developpement), which continued to be the most Islamist-leaning major party.

The new Cabinet retained many key ministers from that of outgoing Prime Minister Driss Jettou, an independent. In a continuation of a gradual expansion of women’s participation in government, the new Cabinet had seven women ministers and deputy ministers, up from two women deputy ministers in the previous Cabinet.

Morocco held municipal elections across the country on June 12, 2009, as part of King Mohammed’s process of devolving more power down to the regions and the municipalities.

2. General

Area: 712,300 sq km (275,320 square miles), including the Western Sahara region (266,000 sq km/103,000 square miles); appr. 20% arable land, or pastures; in the northern region, 47% pastures and meadows, 20% forested, 11% urban, waste or desert; in the southern (Western Sahara) region, 19% pastures and meadows, 81% desert, waste or urban.

Coastline: 2,945 km (1,830 miles).

Territorial waters claimed: 22 km (12 nautical miles); exclusive economic zone 370 km (200 nm).

Major cities: Rabat (capital, 1,006,000) Casablanca (3,344,300); Fez (921,200); Marrakesh (745,800), El Aaiún (190,500), Ad Dakhla (40,200) (2002 est.).  

Population: 33,510,000; average annual growth rate 1.55% (2006 est.). The population is 99.1% Arab-Berber, 0.2% Jewish, 0.7% non-Moroccan.

Religions: 98.7% Muslim, 1.1% Christian, 0.2% Jewish.

Languages: Arabic (official); three Berber dialects; French used in diplomatic, government, post-primary, and business circles. Spanish is still spoken in the north, the former Spanish Morocco region. English is spoken in tourist locations.

Literacy rate: 51.7% total over age 15; male, 64.1%; female, 39.4% (2003 est.).

3. Political

Country’s legal name: Kingdom of Morocco.

Type of government: Hereditary constitutional monarchy (constitution adopted 1972).

Political subdivisions: 37 provinces (including the Western Sahara which has been divided into four provinces), two wilayas and five municipalities (Casablanca, Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, Rabat-Sale).

Branches of government:

Executive: The King serves as head-of-state, with executive power exercised by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, which is appointed by and responsible to the King. The King also has the power to dissolve the legislature and initiate revisions in the constitution.

Legislative: Bicameral Parliament. The Majlis al-Nuwab/Assemblée des Répresentants (Assembly of Representatives) has 325 members, elected for a five-year term in multi-seat constituencies. The Majlis al-Mustasharin (Assembly of Councilors) has 270 members, elected for a nine-year term, two-fifths elected by the people and three-fifths elected by elected local councils.

Judiciary: The legal system is based on Islamic law and French and Spanish civil law. The new constitution was promulgated on March 10, 1972. The judicial system is headed by the Supreme Court, which has the power of judicial review. All the Supreme Court judges are appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary which he presides over.

Suffrage: Universal over age 21.

Elections: Assembly of Representatives elections, every five years, last held September 7, 2007; previously held September 27, 2002; previously held November 14, 1997. Assembly of Councilors elections, every nine years, last held October 6, 2003; previously held December 5, 1997.

Political parties: Bloc Démocratique/Koutla (Democratic bloc): Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires (Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP) Istiqlal/Parti d’Independence (Independence Party, PI), Parti du Renouveau et du Progrés (Party of Renewal and Progress, PRP), Organisation de l’Action pour Démocratie et Peuple (Organization of Action for Democracy and People, OADP) Wifaq/Entente Nationale (National Understanding): Mouvement Populaire (Popular Movement, MP), Union Constitutionelle (Constitutional Union, UC), Parti National-Démocrate (National Democratic Party, PND).
Center bloc: Rassemblement National des Indépendents, (National Rally of Independents, RNI), Mouvement Démocratique et Social (Democratic and Social Movement, MDS), Mouvement Nationale Populaire (National Popular Movement, MNP).
Parti de la Justice et du Développement (Justice and Development Party, PJD, islamist); Mouvement Populaire Constitutionel et Démocratique (Constitutional and Democratic Popular Movement, MPCD); Front des Forces Démocratiques (Front of Democratic Forces, FFD); Parti Social et Démocratique (Social and Democratic Party, PSD); Parti de l'Action (Action Party, PA); Parti Démocratique pour l'Independence (Democratic Independence Party, PDI); Trade unionists. Al-Ahd, led by Najib Ouazzani and “Initiative, Development and Citizenship”,  led by Mohamed Benhammou announced their establishment on April 2, 2002Parti du Congrès National Ittihadi (National Congress Party Ittihadi, CNI), Parti de l'Avant-garde Democratique Socialiste (Democratic Socialist Avant-garde Party, PADS), Parti socialiste unifie (United Socialist Party, PSU), Parti Travailliste (Labour Parti, PT), Parti de L'Environment et du Developpement (Environment and Development Party, EDP), Parti de Renouveau et de l'Equite (Party of Renewal and Equity, PRE), Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party, PS), Union Marocaine pour la Democratie (Moroccan Union for Democracy, UMD), Forces Citoyennes (Citizens' Forces, FC), Alliance des Libertes (Alliance of Liberties, AL), Initiative Citoyennete et Developpement (Citizenship and Development Party, ICD), Parti de la Renaissance et de la Vertu (Party of Renaissance and Virtue, PRV).

Voting strength: Assembly of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwab/Assemblée des Répresentants ): PI 52; PJD 46; MP 41; RNI 39; USFP 38; UC 27; PPS 11; PND 14; FFD 9; MDS 9; PADS-CNI-PSU 6; PT 5; PED 5;   PRE 4; PS 2; UMD 2; FC 1; AL 1; ICD 1; PRV 1.

Assembly of Councilors: 42 RNI, 33 MDS, 28 UC, 27 MP, 21 PND, 21 PI, 16 USFP, 15 MNP, 13 PA, 12 FFD, 42 other.

Other groups: Various trade unions, National Union of Moroccan Students (UNEM), Islamic groups. Al-Shabiba al-Islamiyya, led by Abdul Karim Mutti, is an extremist Sunni offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, with bases in Sudan.

4. Economic

GDP: $50-billion; average annual growth rate 4.2% (2004). $33.5-billion; $1,180 per capita; 6.8% average annual growth rate (2000).

Balance of trade: Exports, $9.472-billion f.o.b.; imports, $18.15-billion f.o.b. (2005 est.).

Budget: Revenues, $12.94-billion; expenditures, $16.77 billion; including capital expenditures of $2.19-billion (2005 est.). Revenues, $9.6-billion; expenditures, $8.6-billion (2001 est.); revenues, $10.4-billion; expenditures, $8.9-billion including capital expenditures of $10.75-billion, (1996 est.).

Fiscal year: Calendar year.

Monetary conversion rate: US$1 equals 7.7126 Moroccan dirhams (November 2009).

Aid: ODA, $218-million (2002). ODA $439-million (2000); US including Ex-Im (FY1970-89) $1.3-billion and an additional $123.6-million for 1992; non-US Western, ODA and OOF (1970-89) $7.5-billion; OPEC (1979-89) $4.8-billion; communist countries (1970-89) $2.5-billion; $2.8-billion debt canceled by Saudi Arabia; IMF standby agreement worth $13-million; World Bank, $450-million (1991).

Major trade partners: Exports: France 33.6%, Spain 17.4%, UK 7.7%, Italy 4.7%, US 4.1%. Imports: France 18.2%, Spain 12.1%, Italy 6.6%, Germany 6%, Russia 5.7%, Saudi Arabia 5.4%, China (PRC) 4.2%, US 4.1% (2004).

Major imports: Crude petroleum, textile fabric, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas and electricity, transistors, plastics.

Major exports: Clothing, fish, inorganic chemicals, transistors, crude minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, fruits, vegetables.

Major industries: Mining and mineral processing (phosphates, smaller quantities of zinc, lead, iron, manganese and other minerals), food processing, textiles, construction and tourism, leather goods.

Agriculture: Cereal farming and livestock raising predominate; main crops — wheat, barley, citrus fruit, wine, vegetables, olives; some fishing. Not self-sufficient in food. Agriculture accounts for 21.7% of GDP (2005). An illegal producer of cannabis for the international drug trade.

Railways: 1,893 km (1,180 miles) 1.435 meter standard gauge; 246 km double track; 974 km electrified.

Roads: 59,474 km (36,975 miles) total; 29,440 km paved, 30,034 km gravel, crushed stone, improved earth and unimproved earth.

Ports: 10 major (Agadir, Casablanca, El Jorf Lasfar, Kenitra, Mohammedia, Nador, Safi, Tangier, Ceuta [Spanish controlled], Melilla [Spanish controlled]), 14 minor.

Civil air: 50+ major transport aircraft. The Royal Air Maroc fleet as at April 2006 incuded: 3 Airbus A321-200 (one operating for Atlas Blue), 10 Boeing 737-800, 6 Boeing 737-700, 6 Boeing 737-500, 6 Boeing 737-400 (operating for Atlas Blue), 1 Boeing 737-200 (Cargo), 1 Boeing 747-400, 2 Boeing 757-200, 3 Boeing 767-300, 2 ATR 42-300, 5 Boeing 787s on order.

Airfields: 60 total operational; 25 with paved runways; 11 with paved runways over 3,047 meters; 4 with paved runways 2,438-3,047 meters.

Telecommunications: Superior system by African standards using open-wire lines and radio-relay links with principal centers in Casablanca and Rabat and secondary centers in Fez, Marrakesh, Oujda, Tangier, and Tetouan; 2.6-million telephone lines; 6.8-million radio and 1.45-million television receivers; 20 AM, 7 FM, 26 TV (26 more relay) stations; 5 submarine cables; 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT and 1 ARABSAT ground stations; radio relay to Gibraltar, Spain, and Western Sahara; coaxial cable and microwave links to Algeria; microwave radio relay network linking Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.

5. Major News Media

Newspapers: Maroc Soir (30,000 daily), French; Le Matin du Sahara (70,000 daily); L’Opinion (35,000 daily), Istiqlal Party organ; Al-’Alam (“The Flag”; 50,000 daily), Istiqlal Party; Al-Anba’ (15,150 daily), Arabic; Al Bayane, (daily), organ of the Parti du Progres et du Socialism; Al Ittihad al Ishtilaqi (“Socialist Unity”; daily); Journal of Union Socialiste des Forces Populaire (USPF); Al Maghrib (daily), organ of Rassemblement National des Independants party in French; Al Mithaq al Watani (“The National Charter”; daily), Arabic; Al Nidal al Adimakrati (“The Democratic Struggle”; daily) organ of the Parti National Democratie in Arabic.

News agencies: Domestic: Wikalat al-Maghreb al-Arabi (WMA). A few foreign agencies have bureaus in the capital.

Radio and television: Government-supervised radio and television: Radiodiffusion Television Marocaine. Also: Radio Mediterranée Internationale and Voice of America, Tangier; 2M International, commercial television.

6. Defense


Morocco’s location on the Strait of Gibraltar makes it of critical strategic importance to both south-western Europe and north-western Africa, controlling as it does the key connection between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Because of this importance, the US had maintained bases in Morocco and continues to have a close defense relationship with the Kingdom.

The Moroccan Monarchy claims continuity with the great Moroccan empires of the 16th and 17th Centuries, which extended deep into the Sahara; as a result Morocco has claimed that each of the formerly colonial zones it has acquired were part of the “restoration” of the Kingdom. Spanish Morocco, Tarfaya, and Ifni were successively incorporated, and the war for the former Spanish Sahara has gone on since 1976. Morocco no longer pursues more grandiose claims, although at one time it claimed all of Mauritania.

For historical and geographical reasons, Morocco’s regional rival has been and is likely to remain Algeria. There are border disputes and old Moroccan claims to parts of the Algerian desert (including the Tindouf region, where the POLISARIO Front has been based), and the two countries are natural rivals as regional powers. Morocco has tended to counterbalance the rivalry with Algeria through active diplomacy elsewhere, as in the short-lived union with Libya. Mauritania has long been a field of competition between the two, with the influence of Algeria in Nouakchott waxing and waning.

The stand-off in the Western Sahara remains a focus of Morocco’s relations with both Algeria and Mauritania, but the danger of the fighting spreading was reduced by the “useful Sahara” defensive wall approach adopted by Morocco a decade ago. As a result, the war is essentially stalemated, with Morocco accepting a long-term requirement to to maintain the defense walls.

Internationally, Morocco has maintained defense ties with the West, particularly France and the United States. In late 1986 it was seeking a new generation of fighter aircraft and, not surprisingly, was considering both the Mirage 2000 and the F-16. To pursue the Saharan War, it has turned to other suppliers as well, especially during the US Carter Administration, when military aid was limited in nature. South African equipment is known to be in the inventory, notably the Ratel 6x6 light AFV. 398 French VAB (6x6) were also acquired in various models, including mortar carriers, tractors and command vehicles. In the near future over 200 AMLs are to undergo the Panhard AML modernization package, retrofitting them with diesel engines.

Attrition in the Western Sahara was significant during the 1980s. Besides lesser types, at least four Mirage F-1s were shot down by POLISARIO guerillas. Strength was partly made up in 1989. A top up batch of ex-USAF F-5Es was received, quickly followed by the first of seven CASA CH-235 transports. Since then, economic austerity has been a brake on acquisitions. At the Dubai Air Show in November, 1991, Morocco signed a US$250-million deal to buy 20 surplus US Air National Guard F-16A/B and upgrade them with some of the C/D models’ systems and uprated engines. Morocco notified the US in June 1992, that it was dropping the order, citing lack of funds as the reason.

Because of its geopolitical importance, the future of Morocco is of great concern to the superpowers. It long maintained cordial ties with the USSR despite its overwhelmingly pro-Western approach, and has long seen itself as a mediator throughout the Arab world, with Fez as a popular site for Arab summits through the years. This has helped insulate it from the destabilizing activities of certain Arab states, though the visit of Shimon Peres in 1986 led to denunciations by Libya and Syria.

Morocco has a degree of defense industrial self-sufficiency. By late 1988 Aero Maroc Industries (AMIN) was undertaking overhauls on RMAF SA-330 Puma helicopters, among other projects. However, by October 2007, the Moroccan Armed Forces had issued a major contract for refits to French companies Eurocopter and GIAT respectively on its 25 Puma helicopters and 138 AMX-13 armored vehicles. At the same time, the Royal Moroccan Navy agreed with the French Government and French shipbuilder DCNS to order a single, 6,000 tonne disp. European Multi-Mission Frigate (FREMM) for 550-million euros. It was probable, also, that the Navy would also acquire Dutch-built Sigma-class corvettes. As well, it became clear by late October 2007 that the Royal Moroccan Air Force would not acquire the possible 18 to 24 AMD Rafale fourth-generation fighter aircraft it had been considering, but would probably opt for a buy of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters from the US.


The King is Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Armed Forces as well as Chief of General Staff. The Armed Forces are under the direct command of the Monarch, not the Cabinet (there is no Minister of Defense). A military cabinet is responsible to the King. The National Security Forces are also responsible to the King, while the Auxiliary Forces report to the Minister of the Interior.

Directly under the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) proper are the Royal Moroccan Army and the Royal Air Force. The Navy and the National Gendarmerie are both administratively under the Army.

In addition to the “National Security Council” made up of political party leaders, there is a High Council for National Defense, including key ministers, the heads of the Gendarmerie, DST, Military Intelligence, and the Directorate General of Studies and Documentation (DGED), the chief quasi-civilian intelligence service.

Chemical and biological warfare capabilities:

Morocco has declared that it does not possess chemical weapons and this seems to be correct, except for riot control munitions and possibly old and abandoned stock from the French occupation of 1920-45. It does not possess biological agents or munitions but has delivery systems suitable with CBW munitions. Morocco signed the Geneva Protocol without reservations, and has signed but not ratified the Biological and Chemical Weapons Convention.

Key Personnel:

Commander-in-Chief and Chief of General Staff: King Mohammed VI.

Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister in Charge of National Defense: Abderrahmane Sbaï.

Inspector General of the Armed Forces: Gen. Abdul Aziz Banani.

Commander of the Air Force: Gen. Ali Abd al-Aziz al-Omrani.

Commander of the Navy: Captain Muhammad al-Tariqi.

Key addresses:

Ministry of National Defense, 6 bis Rue Patrice Lumumba, Rabat.

Army and Navy: Ministry of Defense.

Air Force: Des Far, Rabat.

Procurement offices: Ministry of Defense.

Total armed forces: 147,000.

Paramilitary forces: 30,000, including 11,000 Sûreté Nationale.

Available manpower: Males age 18-49: 7,908,864; 6,484,787 believed fit for service (2005).

Service period: 18 months.

Annual military expenditure: $2.31-billion, 5% of GDP (2003 est.). est. appr. $1.5-billion (2001). $1.361-billion, 3.8% of GDP (1997-98); $1.38-billion (1995).

Alliances and organizations: ABEDA, ACCT (associate), AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, CCC, EBRD, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OSCE (partner), Seabeds Committee, UN, UNAVEM III, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO.

Army Battle Order

Manpower: 125,000 regular.

Reserves: 105,000.

Service period: 18 months.


1 light security brigade.

1 parachute brigade.

7 armored groups.

14 motorized infantry regiments.

18 infantry battalions.

2 Royal Guard battalions.

5 camel corps battalions.

2 desert cavalry battalions.

1 mountain battalion.

9 artillery groups.

3 commando battalions.

8 engineer battalions.

4 armored reconnaissance squadrons.

1 anti-aircraft brigade.

Three mobile divisions were organized from existing forces in 1980 to conduct search-and-destroy operations against POLISARIO.



MBTs: 108 M-60, 160 M-48, 100 T-54.

Light: 138 AMX-13, 121 Kurassier (with 105mm gun).

Armored cars: 83 EBR-75, 23 M-8, 100 AMX-10RC, e180 AML- 90, Eland, 20 AML-60.

APCs: 40 M-3 halftracks, 60 OT-62/OT-64, 30 UR-416, 334 M-113, c426 VAB, Ratel.


Guns: 150 76mm, 85mm, RO 105mm Light.

Howitzers: 150 75mm, 105mm, 34 M-114 155mm, 20 AMX-105 105mm SP, 36 155mm SP.

Mortars: 60mm, 81mm, 82mm, 120mm.


Guns: 50 M-56 90mm SP, 25 SU-100 100mm SP.

RL: Strim 89.

RCLs: M-20 75mm, M-40A1 106mm.

ATGWs: ENTAC, Milan, TOW, Dragon.

Air defense:

Guns: 100 20mm, 37mm, 57mm and 100mm, 40 M-163 Vulcan SP.

SAMs: 12 Tunguska M1 gun/missile SP systems (ord. Dec. 2004; acq. 2005), SA-7, 10 Chaparral, Crotale.

Soft-skinned vehicles: 300 Chrysler-Canada Jeep vehicles (option on 200 more).

Naval Battle Order

Manpower: 7,800 regular (includes 1,500 Marines).

Reserves: 2,000.

Service period: 18 months.



1 French-built FREMM-type multi-mission, ordered Oct. 2007.

Lieutenant Colonel Errhamani with 4 MM-38 Exocet SSM and 1x8 Albatros SAM launcher.

Light Forces:

2 Assad-class missile corvettes with 6 Teseo Mk2 SSM and 1x4 Albatros SAM launcher (reportedly on order).

2 Okba-class FAC(G).

4 El Khattabi-class FAC(M) with 4 MM-38 Exocet SSM.

6 LV Rabhi-class large patrol craft.

4 El Hahiq-class 54.8 m patrol craft.

3 OPV64-class patrol craft (2 more building).

6 El Wacil-class coastal patrol craft.

Amphibious Forces:

Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah (ex-USN Newport-class) LST.

3 Daoud Ben Aicha-class LST.

1 LCT.

Miscellaneous vessels:

2 logistic support ships, 1 research ship leased from the US, 27 customs/coast guard/police operate 41 coastal patrol craft and 3 SAR.

Naval bases: Agadir, Casablanca, Dakhla, Kenitra, Safi, Tangier.

Air Force Battle Order

Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Malakiya Marakishiya/Force Aérienne Royale Marocaine (Royal Moroccan Air Force)

Manpower: 16,000 regular.

Reserves: 5,000.

Service period: 18 months.


Headquartered in Rabat, the Royal Moroccan Air Force operates from five main bases.  Current organization is as follows:

Base aérienne no 1 (1 Air Base), Rabat-Salé: 

Escadrilles d'hélicoptères légers (Light Helicopter Squadrons): Two with AB 205A & AB 212.

Escadrilles d'hélicoptères moyens (Medium Helicopter Squadrons): Two with Puma.

Escadrille d'hélicoptères lourds (Heavy Helicopter Squadron): One with Chinook.

Escadrille d'hélicoptères de liaison (Liaison Helicopter Squadron): One with JetRanger.

Escadrille d'hélicoptères d'appui (Support Helicopter Squadron): One with Gazelle-canon.

Escadrille d'hélicoptères anti-char (Attack Helicopter Squadron): One with Gazelle-HOT.

Escadrille de patrouille maritime (Maritime Patrol Squadron) with Do 28D-2.

Escadrille de transport hautes personalités (VIP Transport Squadron) with Falcon 50, Gulfstream II/III & Super King Air 200/300.

Base aérienne no 2 (2 Air Base), Meknès-Mézergues: 

Escadrille de chasse (Fighter Squadron) with F-5A/B & RF-5A.

Escadrille de chasse (Fighter Squadron) with F-5E/F.

Escadrille de chasse (Fighter Squadron) with Alpha Jet.

Escadrille d'appui (COIN Squadron) with OV-10 & Magister.

Base aérienne no 3 (3 Air Base), Kénitra:

Escadrille de transport (Transport Squadron) with CN-235 M.

Escadrille de transport et ravitaillement en vol (Transport/Tanker Squadron) with C-130H, KC-130H & 707.

Escadrille de guerre électronique (ECM Squadron) with Falcon 20 & C-130H.

Base aérienne no 4 (4 Air Base), Hassan I AB, El Aioun  (Laayoune):

No permanently based units but regular deployments of fighters and transport aircraft from other bases.

Base aérienne no 5 (5 Air Base), Sidi Slimane:

Escadrille de chasse (Fighter Squadron) with Mirage F1 CH.

Escadrille de chasse (Fighter Squadron) with Mirage F1 EH.

Training Command:

Ecole de pilotage/Flight School, Marrakech-Ménara, with CAP 10 (pilot selection), T-34C-1 (basic & advanced training), and Magister (jet training).

Ecole de chasse/Fighter School, Marrakech-Ménara, with Alpha Jet.

Ecole bimoteur (Twin-engine School), Kénitra, with King Air A100.

Ecole de spécialisation hélicoptère (Helicopter School), Rabat-Salé, with JetRanger.

Equipe de voltige aérienne 'Marche verte' (Flight Demonstration Team), Marrakech-Ménara, with CAP 231.


Fixed-wing aircraft: 7 Airtech CN-235 M transports; 6 Beech King Air A100 multi-engine trainers; 3 Beech Super King Air 200C liaisons; 2 Beech Super King Air 300 liaisons; less than 12 Beech T-34C Turbo-Mentor basic and armament trainers; 1 Boeing 707-138B air refueling aircraft; 1 Boeing 707-3W6C VIP transport; 2 Cessna 560 Citation V VIP transports; 14 Cessna T-37B basic trainers (ex-USAF); 2 Dassault Falcon 20 EW; 1 Dassault Falcon 50 VIP transport; 15 Dassault Mirage F1 CH air defense aircraft; 14 Dassault Mirage F1 EH tactical fighters; less than 24 Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet H advanced trainers; 2 Dornier Do 28D-2 Skyservant liaisons and EEZ patrol aircraft; 10 FFA AS 202/18A Bravo primary trainers; less than 18 Fouga CM 170 Magister basic trainers and COIN; 1 Grumman Gulfstream II VIP transports; 1 Gulfstream Aerospace Gulfstream III VIP transport; 13 Lockheed C-130H Hercules transports; 2 Lockheed C-130H Hercules electronic border surveillance aircraft; 3 Lockheed KC-130H Hercules air refueling aircraft; 2 Mudry CAP 10B aerobatic trainers; 4 Mudry CAP 230 aerobatic demonstration aircraft; 3 Mudry CAP 231 aerobatic demonstration aircraft; 10 Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter tactical fighters; 1 Northrop RF-5A Freedom Fighter tactical reconnaissance aircraft; 2 Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter operational trainers; 16 Northrop F-5E Tiger II tactical fighter aircraft; 4 Northrop F-5F Tiger II operational trainers; 3 Rockwell OV-10A Bronco FAC and COIN.

Helicopters: 2 Aerospatiale AS 365 N Dauphin 2 VIP transports; less than 24 Aerospatiale SA 342 K and SA 342 L Gazelle scouts and gunships; less than 30 Aerospatiale SA 330 C and SA 330 G Puma transports; 45 Agusta-Bell AB 205A transports; 5 Agusta-Bell AB 206A JetRanger scouts and liaisons; 12 Agusta-Bell AB 206B JetRanger scouts and liaisons; 5 Agusta-Bell AB 212 transports; 9 Elicotteri Meridionali CH-47C Chinook transports; 2 Sud SA 315 B Lama liaison.

NB: In addition, the Escadron aérien de la Gendarmerie Royale Marocaine (Air Squadron of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie) operates a fleet of Aerospatiale Gazelle and Sikorsky S-70A-26 helicopters as well as Ayres S2R Vigilante surveillance/counter-drug aircraft and SOCATA Super Rallye light aircraft on internal security patrol. The Ministère de la Pêche et de la Marine Marchande (Ministry of Fisheries and Merchant Marine) operates Pilatus Britten-Norman BN2T Turbine Defenders on EEZ and fishery protection patrol.

Air defense:

AAM: AIM-9 Sidewinder, Matra Super 530, and Matra 550 Magic.

ASM: Maverick.

Major air bases:  Bassatine AB, Casablanca-Mohammed V (Nouasseur), Dakhla, Errachidia Moulay Ali Chérif, Hassan I (Laayoune), Kénitra AB, Meknès-Mézergues, Marrakech-Ménara, Plage Blanche (Tantan), Rabat-Salé, Sidi-SlimaneAB, Smara AB.  Civil airport suitable for combat aircraft operations are at Al Hoceima Chérif al Idriss, Al Massira, Anfa, Angads, Boukhalf, Ouarzazate, Saiss, and Sania Ramel.  Bare base facilities are located at Goulimine and Ifrane.

7. Major Embassies Abroad

France: 3 rue le Tasse, Paris 16e. Tel: (1) 45 20 87 80.

Russia: Per. Ostroyskovo 8, Moscow.

UK: 49 Queen’s Gate Gardens, London SW7 5NE. Tel: (020) 7581-5001, Fax: (020) 7225-3862.

US: 1601 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Tel: (202) 462-7979/80/81/82, Fax: (202) 265-0161.

8. Major Intelligence Services

Directorate General for Studies and Documentation (DGED): Quasi-civilian national-level intelligence service. Director-General: Gen. ‘Abdelhaq el-Kadiri.

Military Intelligence: Military intelligence functions are carried out by the Armed Forces’ respective departments.

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