Saturday, July 2, 2011

Morocco In the News: June 29 - July 2

Morocco, US sign child protection accord. 2011-06-29
Morocco and the US on Tuesday (June 28th) inked a partnership accord for the support of child protection centres, Le Matin reported. The US funds will help expand social services and training in the facilities, including psychological and drug treatment programmes for Moroccan youths. "The United States is proud to support Morocco's efforts to improve the juvenile justice system, especially the centres of child protection that are managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports," US Ambassador Samuel Kaplan said at the Rabat signing ceremony.
Morocco to offer 20,000 textile jobs2011-06-27
Morocco will train and integrate some 20,000 young people for jobs in the clothing and textile sectors, Le Matinreported on Saturday (June 25th). The initiative follows a partnership agreement between the Office of Vocational Training and Labour Promotion (OFPPT) and the Moroccan Textile and Clothing Industry Association (AMITH). Vocational training will be offered in Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Fes and Marrakech.
Morocco is key testing ground for Desertec solar-farm project. April Yee Jun 26, 2011 
Morocco is to be the testing ground for a planned €400 billion renewable energy network to criss-cross the Mediterranean.
Desertec, the name of the initiative to connect solar and wind farms in the Middle East to European consumers, this month signed up its first government partner for a solar farm that will export power to Europe through an undersea electricity line.
The partnership is with a public-private body called the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen).
"Our cooperation with Masen may spark a new era of cross-continent cooperation," says Paul van Son, the chief executive of Dii, the consortium of more than 50 companies behind Desertec.
The Moroccan project is a key test for Desertec, which has won the support of the corporate world but has yet to gain large-scale backing from governments. It is counting on nations from both sides of the Mediterranean to build the power plants, lay down the transmission lines and, most crucially, put down the cash.
Morocco, the only North African nation without oil resources, is seen as a promising site for renewables because of its abundant sunshine and its government's eagerness to embrace solar energy.
In 2009 the kingdom unveiled a US$9bn (Dh33.05bn) plan to build five solar plants that would produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity - equal to the total generation capacity of Casablanca. Those plants could produce more than a third of the nation's capacity by 2020, according to the government.
With a civil war dragging on in Libya and post-revolutionary governments in Egypt and Tunisia, Morocco is seen as a relatively stable alternative to its neighbours. There have been protests in the country but no change in its leadership.
The UAE is also eyeing the Moroccan market.
In December, the government-owned Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, also known as Taqa, selected Morocco as the location for its first potential venture in renewable energy through a bid to build a 500mw solar plant as part of a consortium.
That plant is to be the first step in the Desertec plan, with Masen now selecting builders and investors for the solar farm scheduled to be completed by 2015. By then the site could feed 340mw a day to Spain, reversing the direction of the Spain-Morocco power line.
"We think in the long term that Morocco can become one of the net exporters to the Spanish market," says Isidoro Tapia Ramirez, the general secretary of the Spanish Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving, Spain's renewable energy agency.
Morocco’s GDP Grows 4.9% in First Quarter, Government Says.
By Vivian Salama - Jul 1, 2011
Morocco’s gross domestic product grew an annual 4.9 percent in the first quarter, accelerating from 2 percent the previous three months, the state statistics office in Rabat said today.
The North African kingdom’s economy, which depends on tourism for about 10 percent of GDP, grew 0.8 percent from the previous quarter.
A reader comments that Morocco would benefit from a literacy project
Letters to the Editor  Jun 30, 2011 
Achraf El Bahi's opinion piece Morocco's reforms reflect real divisions within the society (June 29) was a great article. I really commend him for it.
In my opinion, King Mohammed VI ultimately understands the burden of power. He understands that when things go bad, he will be the one to blame. This is why creating a strong governing institution will serve to alleviate the blame, ever so slightly. With a strong executive that makes decisions, you will have an institution that becomes a target. This ultimately is democracy; it demands accountability.
At the end of the day, I think Morocco will become a true constitutional monarchy such as Spain or Britain. But it certainly isn't ready today. As Mr El Bahi mentioned in his article, about 50 per cent of Moroccans are illiterate.
How does one expect to implement a full democracy when half the population can't even read or write? Morocco will eventually get there but, unlike the prime minister Abbas El Fassi, I think it will take more like 20 years rather than 10. Democracy is a very delicate recipe, and one of its main ingredients is literacy.
As for all proponents of the "democracy now" camp, I would suggest that they concentrate on improving the literacy rate of the country. With more pressure and more projects aimed at driving that figure up, the end goal becomes a lot more achievable. Complaining about the current "imperfect" situation will not help anyone.
Morocco just embarked on a long and tiring journey, but the scenery out the windows is absolutely beautiful and the destination is very exciting.
Moroccan Berbers Call Constitutional Reforms A 'Trick'
By Michael Martin | July 1, 2011
North Africa is not a homogenous bloc of Arab societies, struggling in unison for one pan-Arab cause.
(Photo: REUTERS / Youssef Boudlal)
People from Amazigh, north of Morocco, hold a Amazigh flag and a banner, as they gather for a protest in Casablanca April 24, 2011. Thousands took to the streets of Morocco on Sunday in peaceful demonstrations to demand sweeping reforms and an end to political detention, the third day of mass protests since they began in February. The banner reads, "the Amazigh language is a statutory rightand acquired."
U.S. media coverage of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt has largely ignored the mass movement of North Africa's ethnic minorities.
Moroccan Berbers have been on the streets all along, protesting in what they are calling a new Printemps Amazigh or Berber Spring, not to be confused with its Arab counterpart.
Moroccans voted on constitutional reforms today at some 40,000 polling stations across the nation. There is little doubt that the vote will come out in favor of Moroccan King Mohamed VI's gestures toward change.
Among the reforms, the constitutional review will raise the Berber language or Tamzight to official language status, meaning that the language will now be taught in Moroccan schools in addition to Modern Standard Arabic.
But the nation's Berbers say the gesture won't help their political marginalization by what they believe is an Arab-dominated government.
"This is a symbolic measure. But there are still those in government who have long worked against the integration of Amazighs (the Berber word for Berber) politically and these measures won't do much about them," said Ahmed Adghirni, the front man for the Berber struggle in Morocco, in a phone interview from Rabat, Morocco's capital.
Adghirni started the Parti Démocratique Amazigh Marocain (PDAM), a political party to represent MoroccanBerbers in 2005, although his gestures to represent Berbers politically started in 1993.
The party was banned in 2007 and formally dissolved by Morocco's judiciary in 2008, on the grounds that race-based parties are illegal. Shortly after, the party reunited under the name Parti Ecologiste Marocain, but remains virtually inactive in Moroccan government.
"The activists in my party are trying to safeguard our rights. We are deprived of participation in Moroccan politics. We are looking for a favorable political climate to continue with our activities," said Adghirni.
Although they are largely unimpressed by the constitutional changes, Berber activists expect some improvement in their integration into mainstream Moroccan society.
"There are some Berber people in the Atlas mountains that come to live in the cities, but they can't make it in Moroccan cities, because they can't speak [Arabic]. Now the Arabs in Morocco need to learn Berber as they do Arabic," said Slimane, a 23-year-old Berber activist and documentarian in Marrakech, who declined to publish his full name out of fear of retribution from the anti-Berber Arab Islamists who have threatened Ahmed Adghirni's life on several occasions.
Both Slimane and Adghirni are practicing Muslims.
Despite the indisputable benefits, Slimane says that an official Berber language won't change popular Moroccan Arab attitudes towards Berbers.
"The Berbers are the ice cream in society -- not taken seriously, but a kind of novelty," he said, explaining that while Berber culture is sold to international tourists in jewelry and couscous platters, Morocco has made no gestures to ensure their political representation.
Berbers consider themselves the indigenous people of North Africa and predate the Arab conquest of North Africa. Berber populations stretch from Morocco to Egypt and as far into Sub-Saharan Africa as Nigeria.
Official Moroccan figures say Berbers make up 40 percent of the nation's population, but analysts say the number ranges from 60 to 70 percent. Berber activists say that Moroccan government statistics attempt to downplay the number of Berbers in the country to maintain an Arab majority.
Unlike Slimane, some Berber activists are outraged by the gesture to quiet Berber activists with what they call a token change in the Moroccan constitution.
"This is a trick to calm Berber organizations," said Hassan from East Morocco. Although the Berber's movement for integration and respect in Moroccan society has long outrun the recent Arab spring, the Jasmine Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt provoked a series of protests this year, calling for democracy, and more specifically, political representation of Morocco's majority-cum-minority.
Hassan said that Berber activists are not convinced by the king's gesture toward change.
"Morocco is a Berber country," he said, "not Arab."
"This is only the beginning of the Berber fight. There won't be any respect for us unless we are represented in government."
Berber militants like Hassan are calling for Berber self-rule.
"There won't be any more legitimacy [in the current government] unless it's run under a Berber system."
But Adghirni, the Berber political representative, has been weathered by death threats from pan-Arabist Islamist organizations. He says that he sometimes considers leaving Morocco altogether.
"Sometimes I think about leaving Morocco, because my personal life and my rights are constantly menaced," said Adghirni.
"But I have a duty to my people -- The Berber activists and everyday people. I'm obliged to stand by them."
Tourists upset Morocco Barbary macaque monkeys.
By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC Nature
The most innocuous interactions with tourists can upset endangered Barbary macaques, say scientists.
A study revealed that macaques at a site regularly visited by tourists showed signs of anxiety when people got too close, fed them or tried to attract their attention for a photograph.
The scientists monitored the monkeys' behaviour and also tested the animals' droppings for stress hormones.
The results are published in the journal Biological Conservation.
"There's been a lot of interest, recently, in tourism and how it affects wild animal populations," explained Dr Stuart Semple, a scientist who specialises in the study of primates at the University of Roehampton in London, UK.
"But while there are studies that show tourism does affect animal behaviour, we've tried to look at it much more directly, and to actually measure their levels of anxiety."
Laetitia Marechal, also from Roehampton, led the study.
She and her colleagues studied 50 days of tourist-monkey interactions at Ifrane National Park in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
A population of macaques here has become habituated to the regular visits of tourists for at least five years.
"The more tourists there were, the more anxious the macaques would become," said Dr Semple.
"Just like humans, macaques scratch themselves when they're nervous or anxious, so we use this [scratching behaviour] as a measure of their level of anxiety."
The researchers divided the interactions into three categories: feeding; neutral, which included taking photographs of the monkeys; and aggression, including the less common incidences of tourists throwing things at the macaques or physically striking them.
"All three types of interactions seemed to make the monkeys anxious," said Dr Semple.
"We were unsuprised by the aggression and the feeding, but we were surprised that tourists doing the usual tourist thing upset the animals."
The next stage of the study looked for chemical evidence of stress in the macaques' droppings.
"We collected fecal samples and measured the levels of stress hormones in them," explained Dr Semple. "When you become anxious, your body doesn't necessarily become physically stressed, so this was an important measurement."
The results suggested that only the aggressive interactions with tourists cause the monkeys to become physically stressed. But Dr Semple says that, for the well-being of these intelligent animals, tourists should avoid making them nervous or anxious.
"It would be very straightforward to develop some general guidelines," he told BBC Nature. "For example, not allowing tourists to get too close to the animals and asking people to keep noise levels down a little bit. Just a few simple things.
"This could actually make the experience [of viewing wildlife] much better for people as they would be able to enjoy the animals as they behaved in a much more natural way."
Magical, mystical Morocco.   Written by Jacki Witlen Jun. 24, 2011|
Before we left for Morocco, many of our friends asked if we were worried about traveling to Northern Africa now. Our immediate answer was "no" - we've always traveled with abandon. But it was horrific for us to learn that less than a month later the pulsating central square of the old medina Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech where we had just wandered, shopped, ate and were entertained was bombed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those
affected by the insanity of madmen.

"Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves," "Aladdin and his Magic Lamp," camel caravans in the Sahara, riding like the wind Lawrence of Arabia style over golden sands were some visions we expected of Morocco.

What we discovered was this small North African country was definitely exotic and topographically more diverse than we expected. Our travels took us north to the Rif Mountains where we first learned about the fiercely independent and self-sufficient Berbers who have survived countless generations and have preserved some of
North Africa's richest traditions.

Driving through the imposing Atlas Mountains reminded us of our Rocky Mountains. As we continued traveling
southeast, we were treated to another color palette for our senses - the ocher adobe cities in the Oases and the high walled fortress Kasbahs that blend with the sand-colored landscape. Fertile soil and lush rolling green hills added yet another dimension.

The journey continued until we reached the vast sand seas of Erg Chebbi in the Sahara and were privileged to meet the nomadic Imazighen - men of the land, or "Free Men" - who inhabit the dessert.

We experienced new cultural discoveries daily and were enthralled by the bustling medieval cities, especially Fes, with its labyrinth of 9,000 winding alleyways and were awestruck by the tranquility of the Sahara - a timeless sea of sand - that seems to stretch to infinity and from where you can almost touch the Milky Way.

All our senses were on overload as we navigated winding marketplaces and walked side by side with livestock and merchants haggling prices for cows, bulls, horses, sheep, goats and camels. There is
the constant background chorus - "Balek! Balek!" (Watch out! Watch out!) from donkey handlers whose charge carry enormous loads from adobe to bales of hay.

The cities are a circus for ears and eyes. Morocco is undoubtedly a country that travels by four-legged creatures pulling rickety carts and wagons in their day-to-day lives. From squatty potties to hunting for the treasures of Aladdin deep in the treasure-troves of dark alleys of the souks, Jay and I feel privileged for the opportunity to visit faraway places and always return home grateful.

The traditional clothing worn by men and women is interesting and unique. Women wear silky colorful hijabs and matching coats and seem to enjoy a sense of style. The men’s clothing is very special with pointed hood and large pockets made of different fabrics depending on the weather. When we inquired about the significance of the hood, we were told it was for everything from keeping the rain/sun out of faces to holding oranges and goods from the market.

The Touareg Tribe, the “Blue Men” from the Sahara, wear distinctively colorful gold embroidered caftans of blue or white with intricately wound turbans on their heads. Snap. What a picture.

So what would a Witlen travelogue look like if we didn’t share stories about the food, the markets and the wine? Drinking alcohol
in a Muslim country isn’t an easy accomplishment. Suffice it to say that many a meal was paired with water. Yikes!
However, hearty travelers that we are, we put ourselves into survival mode and managed to drink some fairly awful wine and some well-thought out Ketel One brought from home.

Moroccan cooking is a blend of subtle spices, including cinnamon, tumeric, paprika and black pepper, which creates a sweet and savory effect. Olives, eggplant, root vegetables, prunes, nuts, apricots and chicken (made into tagines or cous cous are staples). We found the food substantial and enjoyable. Jay feasted on goat head,
which he gave very favorable reviews. Very memorable and highly recommended is the barbecue, in which the smaller villages specialize. You pick your meat hanging from a hook and pay by the kilo from the butcher who grinds it together with a slab of fat to make into meatballs for kebabs, cooked over a coal-driven oil tank grill and
fanned with cardboard to ensure the meat is well-flavored with smoke. This was interesting, tasty and eaten with the first three fingers of your right hand (for sanitation purposes).

Here are just some of our lasting impressions of Morocco:The Kasbahs. The souks. The sounds of
the call to prayer in a small village the morning after a hearty rain while listening to roosters crow waking up the valley.Literally running through the alleyways in Fes after being disconnected with our group because we lagged behind for a shopping experience.

A definite wow was observing the process, as old as time, of men hand-tanning and dying goat, camel and cow hides in huge vats of poppy, cumin, saffron and indigo, and the odors which accompanied this process from pigeon droppings and urine that break down the hides.

Overlooking thousands of date palm trees in a valley oasis. Gray-blue skies and a rumble of clouds on the low horizon as we walked to a nomadic tent in the Atlas Mountains. Four-wheel jeep riding through vast amounts of volcanic nothingness and coming upon what we were searching for – the golden sands of the Sahara – and our
dessert camp. Awe inspiring.

Watching a woman draw water from a well in the middle of the Sahara is a scene straight from the “Ten Commandments.” The sight of glowing globe-shaped light bulbs illuminating 100 colorful food tents as the smoke from food stations wafts
above at the nighttime food market in Marrakech, together with the sounds of hawkers, the back light of the mosque and the square’s intensely spectacular food circus atmosphere.

Last but certainly not least is sharing a meal with a woman of the dessert with nothing but eye contact and a few local words for communication. “Zuina” (beautiful) I say to our dinner companion as she looked at me with dark black-rimmed kohl eyes above her traditional covering and pointed to me with henna painted fingers – “Zuina.”

We’d like to say “Shukran” (thank you) for allowing us to share a bit of our story with you. “Salam” (peace).
Will Morocco Be the Arab Spring's Great Success—Or Great Failure?
By Max Fisher Max Fisher - Max Fisher is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he edits and writes for the International channel. Follow him on Twitter.
Jul 1 2011,
Today's national referendum on a new constitution could be the first step toward a European-style government, or toward stifling Morocco's pro-democracy movement.
Morocco, they say, is different. When post-World WarII  independence movements across North Africa were toppling European-imposed monarchies, Morocco's independence party declared its allegiance to the king, Mohamed V. When colonial-era France deposed the king and replaced him with a puppet, the puppet, apparently unable to bear betraying the beloved monarch, quickly abdicated, recognizing Mohamed V as the true leader. And when the Arab spring protests spread across North Africa and the Middle East, only Morocco's leadership seemed ready to respond with a peaceful, gradual liberalization of political autocracy. King Mohamed VI, grandson of Mohamed V, recently announced a transition that he said will "make Morocco a state that will distinguish itself by its democratic course."

The country begins down that new course today, with a national referendum on a new constitution. Morocco, as always, is taking a uniquely Moroccan approach. Mohamed VI, who remains quite popular with large stretches of society, but who is nonetheless exactly as autocratic as his title implies, appears legitimately eager to deliver some kind of reform. Like his fellow Arab leaders, he initially ignored the pro-democracy protesters who rose up in his country on February 20. But when the demonstrations became impossible to ignore, Mohamed VI's response has been to try and meet some of their demands, rather than to crush them by force. He hand-picked an assembly of scholars (some of them legitimately independent and sincerely pro-democratic) and asked them to draft a new constitution that would meet with his, and the country's, approval.
It's good to be the king
The new constitution that Moroccans vote on today will invest unprecedented power in the civilian, democratically elected government; it will slowly liberalize a repressive political culture; and it will maintain the king's position as ruler over the country. Though the prime minister will have a wide range of executive powers and though he must be a member of which democratically elected party holds the most seats, he is still selected from that party by the king, and many of powers require royal approval. Though the judiciary will become independent, the military will remain under total royal authority. And though religious freedom will be granted, Morocco will remain an officially Islamic state, with the king as the supreme religious leader. The long-oppressed ethnic Berbers would finally enjoy new rights, as would Moroccan women, but the press would remain forbidden from criticizing the king. In each new reform, there is the potential both for real liberalization and for, if the king wishes it, commitment to the status quo.

It's possible -- though unlikely -- that turnout could be low, as it was during the 2007 Parliamentary elections. (Who cares about picking leaders for a Parliament with little real power?) It's also possible that the youth and February 20 movements could succeed in persuading people to boycott the referendum, which they see as only legitimizing an autocratic government they insist must end. But Moroccans, many of whom have been demonstrating in support of the king, appear poised to follow Mohamed VI's guidance and approve the new constitution.

What happens next will be, as with so many things in Morocco, up to the king. Whatever his actual intentions, he gives the impression of wanting to follow the Western European model of constitutional monarchies that gradually cede power to a civilian government. While those governments are today some of the most democratic in the world, they didn't get there overnight. Great Britain took six and a half centuries between the Magna Carta, which began the process, and the Representation of the People Act of 1884, which finally extended a meaningful suffrage to a majority of Britons. Of course, Britain's process was so slow in large part because democracy was the exception and because of external pressures to remain autocratic; today, democracy is the norm, and Morocco is under enormous pressure from the European governments on which it is so reliant to democratize.

It's impossible to know whether the 47-year old Mohamed VI really wants to liberalize his country, or simply to give the impression of liberalization so as to keep his people and Western governments happy. In word, he has shown little sign of embracing democracy. "People have not stopped ... comparing me with King Juan Carlo," Mohamed VI said, in a September 4, 2001, interview, of the Spanish king who led the transition to democracy in the 1970s. "The Spanish monarchy has nothing in common with the Moroccan monarchy. ... Moroccans want a strong, democratic, and executive monarchy."

But Mohamed VI has, in fact, enacted some real reforms during his 12 years of rule, and he's done it in ways that look remarkably similar to the same process he is leading today. In 2000, he appointed an advisory council (much like the council that wrote the new constitution) to explore the possibility of liberalizing Morocco's gender laws, which, like so many in the region, were extremely restrictive. In 2003, they unveiled a sweeping list of reforms -- greater legal autonomy for women, more progressive divorce laws, abolishing old laws that required women to seek a father or husband's approval for legal decisions, etc. -- which Mohamed VI quickly pushed to become law.

Allowing the king to lead Morocco's transition away from a system that benefits him most, while a far more stable process than the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, is risky. Ostensibly, today will begin Morocco's first step toward a democratic, constitutional monarchy. If all goes as planned, Morocco could become the great, quiet success story of the Arab Spring: the only country to democratize in partnership with, rather than despite, the government. But if the process stalls -- whether because Mohamed VI loses his will, because democratic institutions fail, or, most likely, because the reforms are not enough to truly democratize -- then Morocco will have quietly stifled its protest movement, making it one of the great failures of the Arab Spring. Whichever happens, Morocco's path will be, as always, uniquely, exceptionally Moroccan.
The Monarchy Model
Morocco's King Mohammed VI shows the Middle East's autocrats how to hold on to power.
By Shadi HamidPosted Friday, July 1, 2011
The lesson Arab autocrats seemed to learn from Egypt and Tunisia was almost the exact opposite of what democracy advocates were hoping for. Instead of using less force, leaders across the region have been using more of it, reaching unusual levels of brutality. Shocking reports of mass rape and torture have emerged in Syria and Libya, where thousands have been killed. In Bahrain, a close U.S. ally and home of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, thousands have been arrested or dismissed from their jobs. Indeed, the "Arab spring" has turned into what political scientist Gregory Gause colorfully calls the "winter of Arab discontent."
In a season of growing disillusion—and disastrous televised speeches—the king of Morocco's June 17 national address stood out. It wasn't a great speech, and it fell well short of protesters' demands. But it was a substantive engagement with the opposition. The 47-year-old monarch did not demean his own people or place the blame on foreign conspirators. Instead, he announced a new constitution—one that has the potential to reshape the country's politics. While retaining effective veto power over major decisions, he pledged to empower elected institutions. The prime minister, drawn from the ranks of the largest party in parliament, would have the authority to appoint and fire ministers, as well as to dissolve parliament.
Morocco is offering the rest of the Arab world a different "model." And it is one that other monarchs will be watching closely. It is not a model of true democratic transition toward British-style "constitutional monarchy," as Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas al-Fasi recently claimed. There is little evidence to suggest King Mohammed VI is ready to merely reign and not rule. The Moroccan monarchy has a long history of failing to deliver on its promises of reform.
But this is precisely its appeal: To preserve power, you sometimes have to give some of it up. We can call this the "pre-emptive" model of reform. Here, autocrats take protests seriously. They announce big, high-profile reforms—whether it's moving toward elected governments or rejiggered constitutions. They release political prisoners and appoint real commissions that come up with real recommendations. They give people hope by using all the right buzzwords: change, democracy, reform, institutions, accountability. In doing so, this time around, the Moroccan regime has managed to seize the initiative and steal some momentum from the Feb. 20 protest movement—the loose coalition of leftists, liberals, and Islamists that has brought tens of thousands of Moroccans out into the streets. With a resounding "yes" vote in the July 1 constitutional referendum, the monarchy will be able to say that the mass of Moroccans stand behind the crown, further underlining regime legitimacy in a time of uncertainty.
Pre-emption is a strategy particularly suited to popular monarchies with reserves of historic and religious legitimacy. As the late King Hassan, Mohammed's father, once said, "I will never be put into an equation." The region's monarchs—in stark contrast to the presidents—stand above the fray, acting as umpires rather than partisans.
As attractive as such a model may be for embattled autocrats, it is not revolution-proof. Once changes are set in motion, they are difficult to control. With more political space, opposition groups will be in a better position to build support and mobilize their followers. They may be more emboldened to challenge the king directly. In their seminal Transitions From Authoritarian Rule, political scientists Philippe Schmitter and Guillermo O'Donnell write of the "extraordinary uncertainty of the transition with its numerous surprises." For those holding on to power, surprises can be dangerous. Where does it end?
In Europe, kings and queens were once dominant. But with gradually empowered parliaments, elected officials and notables began to assert themselves at the expense of monarchs. These contests for power became pitched battles. Many of them, unfolding over decades, were punctuated by instability and bloodshed—with Russia's October Revolution and the "Terror" of the French Revolution as only the most prominent examples. More recently, too, the peaceful transformation of monarchies has been a rare event. But just because it rarely happened in the past does not necessarily mean it won't happen in the future.
Prospects for reform in Morocco will depend not just on the king and his generous devolving of power but also on other forces in society that will fight for greater freedom and democracy, eventually turning to challenge the king on his own turf. For now, though, such a scenario is difficult to envision. Morocco's established political parties are careful, timid, and overly deferential to the king. As it stands, then, Morocco's pre-emptive model of reform seems good for autocrats, perhaps less so for those who wish to oppose them.
Morocco's jobless rate fell by 4% over last decade
Rabat - Morocco's unemployment rate fell by more than 4% over the last decade, dropping to 9.1% in 2010 from 13.4% in 2000, said Thursday in Rabat Morocco's Employment and Vocational Training Minister, Jamal Rhmani.
    Rhmani told the 1st Forum on Employment, initiated by the Mohammed V University, that jobless rate dropped to 9.1% in the first quarter of 2011, a 0.9% year-on-year drop.  
    Unemployment among youths (15-34) fell to 14.8% in 2010 from 20% in 2000, added the Minister.
HRH Princess Lalla Asmaa chairs deaf children's school-year graduation ceremony
Rabat - HRH Princess Lalla Asmaa presided, Wednesday in Rabat, over the graduation ceremony of the 2010-2011 school year of the Lalla Asmaa Foundation for Deaf Children.
    Speaking on this occasion, Fouad Bouayad, President of the Lalla Asmaa Foundation for Deaf Children, highlighted the foundation's pioneering role in offering primary education to this social category to promote their social and professional integration.
    “Digital hearing aid, cochlear implant, and electronic voice transmission systems make education and re-education easier for deaf children and allow them a better integration in schools,” he said, adding that the vocational training classes (plastic art, computer science, cooking, sewing, embroidery and hairdressing) “will allow them to have a socio-professional integration of quality.”
    He also said that the next graduation ceremony will take place in the new Princess Lalla Asmaa centre for deaf children and youths in Madinat Al Irfane (Rabat), whose foundation stone was laid by HM King Mohammed VI last August 18.
    Bouayad recalled that this new facility, the first of its kind in Morocco will allow the students of the foundation to have access to primary studies up to high school and will provide vocational training.
    He stressed that “this new environment requires us to develop a new educational strategy for in the short term, suitable for the 200 students of the new center, adding that with “our almost 40-year experience and the new structure, the Centre will become a national platform model for children and young deaf.”
    HRH Princess Lalla Asmaa handed awards and hearing aids to the foundation’s students and visited an exhibition by deaf children.
    At the same time, an award of excellence was handed to Her Royal Highness for Lalla Asmaa Foundation for Deaf Children by Past District Governor Lions Clubs International District 416 Morocco.
    Several senior Moroccan officials attended the event, including Health Minister, Yasmina Baddou, Education Minister, Ahmed Akhchichine, Social Development, Family and Solidarity Minister, Nouzha Skalli.

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