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6/19/2015

Morocco lobbied UN to turn blind eye to Western Sahara in 'House of Cards' operation

The Moroccan government intercepted United Nations communications and used “unethical tactics” in a “House of Cards”-style operation designed to get the organisation to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian situation in Western Sahara, according to a leaked UN report.

The leaked report is a UN analysis of correspondence between the Moroccan government and the country’s permanent ambassador to the UN in Geneva and later New York, Omar Hilale, in the period from January 2012 to September 2014. The Moroccan correspondence was made public last year by an anonymous source using the @chris_coleman24 Twitter handle.
The Moroccan correspondence appears to show that the north African country intercepted internal UN communications; made significant donations to the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) with the expressed intention of influencing the body; lobbied to cancel fact-finding missions to the area by senior officials; and attempted to stop a mandate to monitor human rights abuses being given to the UN peacekeeping mission in the territory.
The leaked UN report, by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), says its “analysis of these cables indicates that the confidentiality of UN communications has been seriously compromised as Morocco indicates on several occasions that it had intercepted UN internal correspondence emanating from Geneva, New York and Laayoune”. In a cable dated 22 August 2014, Hilale made explicit reference to “the writings of the secretariat that have been intercepted”. read more

Morocco kiss trial resumes as debate on gay law rages

RABAT: The trial of two men arrested for kissing in public resumed Tuesday in Morocco, where a string of recent controversies has reignited debate over homosexuality in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Being gay is punishable in Morocco by up to three years in jail and the divisive law - known as Article 489 - has been the subject of several protests, including by feminist protest group Femen.
The furor boiled over last week when a weekly magazine was forced to withdraw from sale its latest edition, which featured a front cover headline asking: "Should we burn gays?"
The trial of the two men, which began Friday, prompted an advocacy group to launch an international petition calling for their release. By Tuesday afternoon it had been signed by 70,000 people.
Last month, a member of British rock band Placebo used a performance in Rabat at Morocco's Mawazine festival to protest against the country's criminalization of homosexuals.
Bassist Stefan Olsdal took to the stage playing a rainbow-colored guitar with "489" written on his chest in reference to the anti-gay law.
Hours earlier, two Femen members, both French nationals, were expelled from Morocco after protesting topless in front of Rabat's landmark Hassan Tower.
A day later, 1,500 people protested in front of the French embassy in Rabat against Femen, but it was the two men who drew the most headlines after they appeared to kiss each other on the same site where the French women had bared their breasts.
The names of the men and their photographs quickly appeared in local media, and the trial has attracted criticism from rights groups.
Human Rights Watch called on the kingdom in March to drop the law that leaves gay people facing prison.

Hollywood hunk Vin Diesel shirtless in Morocco's Sahara desert

Fresh off filming the “Fast and Furious 7” in Abu Dhabi last year, Hollywood action hero Vin Diesel has now returned to the Middle East.
Along with his co-stars Chris Tucker, newcomer Joe Alwyn, Steve Martin, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, Diesel has begun filming his upcoming war film with Oscar-winning director Ang Lee.
For a film based on the war in Iraq, the Sahara desert is the perfect filming location for the Hollywood production. Diesel posted a series of pictures from the set on his Instagram account - and some of them made us drool all over our keyboards!
The hunky 47-year-old (kindly) shared a picture of his ripped upper body, as well as a video telling his fans about plans to ride a camel for the first time ever. The "ship of the desert" meets the "hunk of the d Read more at Al Bawaba.esert"!

PSA will sign deal to build Morocco plant, labor chief says

PSA/Peugeot Citroen's proposed new plant in Morocco will have an initial annual production capacity of 90,000 vehicles and engines, which may eventually be doubled, a union representative at the French carmaker said.
The factory will build models the size of the Peugeot 208 subcompact and 308 compact hatchback cars, reports said. The plant will be located near the city of Kenitra, 47km (30 miles) north of the capital, Rabat, Jean-Pierre Mercier, leader of France's CGT labor union, said.
Morocco has become an important base for the aerospace and auto industries thanks to its skilled workforce, financial incentives and wage costs that are four times lower than in France.
The project is PSA's first manufacturing investment under the watch of CEO Carlos Tavares as the automaker strives to reduce reliance on Europe by boosting car sales in emerging markets. PSA sold about 60 percent of its vehicles in Europe last year.
Tavares, who left rival Renault to head PSA more than a year ago, is following the strategy of his former boss, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, who pushed the French competitor into markets abroad. Renault already has plants in Morocco, in the cities of Tangier and Casablanca, as well as in Algeria.
Read more at Automotive News.

5/30/2015

Letter to Wisconsin Governor on His Racist Comment Against Moroccans

By Mohamed Khamouna
Dear Governor Scott Walker:
It is a pleasure to introduce myself, Mo “Mohamed” Khamouna, a Moroccan-American, from Curtis, Nebraska.
Governor Walker, I am writing to express my shock after reading an article and listening to your speech to the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association about Moroccan immigrants coming to the United States with other motives. Mr. Walker your remarks while they might be appropriate for your audience, they are very racist and offensive to my fellow-countrymen and women.
It is really a crying shame to insult a whole nation to score political points through fear-mongering!
First, Sir the Moroccan community in the US is very small and law-abiding tax payers. Mr. Walker, I am not sure how you can justify your statement “There’s a good number from Indonesia, there are [some] from Morocco, and other places around the world, many of whom aren’t looking for work in the United States. They’ve got other motives and we need to wake up to that,” the governor said.  While there are some bad apples out there, it is unacceptable to malign or insult a people and tarnish the image of a whole nation!

88 Energy completes Moroccan project exit

88 Energy has confirmed it has officially exited its Moroccan project.
The London-listed company said it had been notified from the Moroccan Minister for Energy and Minister for Finance that its interest in the Tarfaya offshore block had been formally transferred to sector peer Galp.

"This formally concludes the Moroccan chapter of the company's history and allows 88 Energy and its shareholders to firmly focus on our world class exploration asset onshore Alaska," said group managing director Dave Wall.

"It also completely removes a financial risk for the company's shareholders that, whilst always a very low probability, is now behind us."

The confirmation removes a potential $3.4m liability to 88's subsidiary DVM International, the group said, adding it was now focussed on an exploration venture in Alaska.

5/12/2015

Moroccan military plane 'shot down by Houthi rebels in Yemen' – video

Shia rebels in Yemen have claimed to have shot down a Moroccan F-16 fighter jet taking part in a Saudi-led coalition targeting them and their allies, a day before a five-day humanitarian ceasefire was set to begin.
Morocco’s military, however, would only say that the jet had gone missing at about 6pm local time on Sunday.
A Moroccan online news site with close ties to the kingdom’s royal palace and security and intelligence services said the aircraft was one of two that flew out of a base in the United Arab Emirates on a reconnaissance mission over the Yemeni side of the border with Saudi Arabia. The French-language site, Le360, said rebel anti-aircraft batteries stationed on top of mountains opened fire on the two aircraft as they flew overhead at low altitude.
Meanwhile, a Saudi-owned news channel, al-Hadath, aired live footage on Monday of tanks and armoured personnel carriers loaded on to giant trucks, saying they were part of a “strike force” being deployed on the kingdom’s border with Yemen. There have been no signs to suggest that a ground offensive was imminent, although the coalition has not ruled one out. /more


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