Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Morocco’

Mocha Musings #4: Morocco to Afghanistan

March 29th, 2010 Comments off


Area: 219,000 sq. mi
Population: 2,750,000
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Scenes: Morocco Leather; City of Morocco; Street Scene in Morocc
o</p

In a previous post I began a series on coffee advertising cards with Middle Eastern themes. One of the most colorful collections is that provided by the Arbuckle Coffee Company. In my great, great aunt’s album there were several Middle Eastern and North African nations represented, but she did not have all the cards. Here is a final potpourri from Arbuckle’s 1889 series, starting with Morocco above.

Go to Source

The tragedy of Tripoli

March 26th, 2010 Comments off

If ever there were a moment for an Arab Summit to bring together the major Arab players to formulate a coherent, practical strategy, this would seem to be it. The Obama administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel continue to lock horns, creating an opening for Arab diplomacy — either to reaffirm or to repudiate the long-standing Arab Peace Initiative. The grinding Palestinian division between Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas and Fatah remains unresolved, with Egyptian mediation no closer than ever to success. The question of Iran’s nuclear program poses challenges and opportunities which could offer an opening to creative diplomacy. Unfortunately, this Arab Summit just happens to be scheduled for Libya… which more or less guarantees a higher degree of inter-Arab division, and makes it cruelly unlikely that any productive moves will be taken. 

[[BREAK]]

Libya’s long-standing dictator Moammar Qaddafi has been a central player in disrupting an impressive number of previous Arab summits. Last year, after his public feud with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dominated the Arab Summit in Doha (he declared himself "the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims"),  I wondered if we had seen the end of Arab summits. Well, technically no, since they still roll around like clockwork.  But functionally, perhaps so. 

The attendance at the upcoming summit is notably poor. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to find it a pressing item of business, after being so rudely interrupted by Qaddafi in Doha. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is very, very not sick and doing wonderfully (according to the Egyptian state media; the rumor mill still thinks he’s dead), but isn’t up to traveling to Libya, so the leader of the supposedly pivotal Arab state will miss his third consecutive Arab summit meeting. Several Gulf leaders, including Sultan Qabus of Oman and Sheikh Khalifa of the UAE have sent their regrets.  Iraq will stay away after Qaddafi invited some Iraqi resistance figures. So will Lebanon. Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to boycott if Hamas is invited; at last report, he will come but plans to arrive fashionably late.  Algeria’s President Bouteflika apparently overcame illness to attend, but Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has threatened to stay home if he does. 

Many of these absences may have happened anyway — but  Qaddafi’s unique legacy only exacerbates the problems and adds an extra layer of absurdist political theater.  With so many leaders missing, few Arabs expect much from the Summit on any of the urgently pressing issues they face. I wouldn’t expect moves towards serious Palestinian reconciliation, the articulation of a new strategy towards Iran, or the adoption of a significant new approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace. It’s something of a tragedy that the Libyan distraction came at this particular historical juncture. It is in many ways more tragic that nobody really expected anything out of the Summit anyway. Perhaps we should just treat this like the opening and closing of the Winter Olympics:  don’t expect much, just sit back and wait for Qaddafi to provide some amusing YouTube moments.  

Go to Source

UAE to host Islamic embroidery exhibition

March 19th, 2010 Comments off

The rich tradition of Islamic embroidery, from Pakistan to Morocco, will be showcased at an exhibition starting April 6 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, WAM news agency said Friday.
Go to Source

Links March 13 2010

March 13th, 2010 Comments off

From POMED:

In other news, blogger and democracy activist Wael Abbas — previously sentenced to 6 months jail time last November before an appeals court acquitted him February — was convicted yet again, this time by Egypt’s Economic Court under the charge of “providing a telecommunications service to the public without permission.” During Abbas’ earlier trial last fall, this same charge had been dropped by the public prosecution in favor of indicting Abbas for “vandalizing an Internet connection.” Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, blasted the government for its “blatant tampering” with the law. “The case was closed already and Abbas was acquitted after proving to the judiciary that it was a completely fabricated,” he said. “The Ministry of Interior is so keen to jail a blogger…because his blog exposes crimes of torture and corruption in Egypt.”

Urging the Egyptian government to overturn Abbas’ new sentence, the Committee to Protect Journalists stressed that “[manufacturing] one charge after another until one finally sticks makes a mockery of the judicial system.”

Urging the Egyptian government to overturn Abbas’ new sentence, the Committee to Protect Journalistsstressed that “[manufacturing] one charge after another until one finally sticks makes a mockery of the judicial system.”

More at Wael’s blog. And the rest of the links:

  • Maan News Agency: Egypt expels hundreds of Palestinians to Gaza

    224 Palestinians, mostly medical patients, sent back to Gaza.

  • 30 hurt in Muslim-Christian clashes in Egypt

    In Marsa Matruh, over church-building again.

  • DUBAI: Police chief gives spies one week to leave Gulf region | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times

    Tamim is getting pretty buffoonish.

  • US dismayed after Morocco expels Americans

    They were missionaries, apparently.

  • Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, 1928-2010 | Irfan al-Alawi | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

    A nice reflection on Tantawi’s lack of leadership.

  • Miliband’s grand Middle East delusion | Chris Phillips | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

    On British standing in the Middle East.



  • Go to Source

    Facebook and Middle Eastern politics

    March 9th, 2010 Comments off

    Perhaps it’s common in other parts of the world, but I am struck to what extent Facebook has become an integral part of Arab politics — a place where people organize, debate and even government officials weigh in. There is of course the ElBaradei for President Facebook group in Egypt, which from 65,000 members the day ElBaradei returned to Cairo to 176,000 this morning. It had been preceded by the 6 April strike group. And they have a plan for more:

    The ElBaradei Facebook group plan for world domination.

    In Morocco, a campaign started in defense of a Facebook user who had set up a mock fan page for the king’s brother, Moulay Rachid.

    I just came across this news item from Saudi Arabia about how its minister of culture used Facebook to squash rumors of book bans at the Riyadh book fair. It seems Facebook is more convincing medium for PR than the ministry’s pres release:

    Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Just hours after the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Media denied rumours that Abdo Khal’s novel ‘Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles’ was withdrawn from the Riyadh International Book Fair, Minister of Culture and Information Abdulaziz Khoja also dismissed other rumours about the fair via his personal Facebook page.
    There are rumours that books by the prominent Saudi intellect Turki al Hamad have been banned at the fair and that the Al Jamal publishing house has been shut, which was denied by Khoja who said, “Al Jamal publishing house has not been shut, and I have just returned from visiting it. It has also been rumoured that Dr. Turki al Hamad’s books have all been banned, but the truth of the matter is that the publishing house that publishes his work did not bring his books to the fair. Therefore, this rumour is false.”
    Despite that the Ministry immediately reacted by denying the successive rumours about the fair, they continued to spread. There are two possible sources of the rumours; the owners of publishing houses who use rumours to market a specific book, and internet websites that contribute to spreading false news about the book fair.

    Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Just hours after the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Media denied rumours that Abdo Khal’s novel ‘Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles’ was withdrawn from the Riyadh International Book Fair, Minister of Culture and Information Abdulaziz Khoja also dismissed other rumours about the fair via his personal Facebook page.
    There are rumours that books by the prominent Saudi intellect Turki al Hamad have been banned at the fair and that the Al Jamal publishing house has been shut, which was denied by Khoja who said, “Al Jamal publishing house has not been shut, and I have just returned from visiting it. It has also been rumoured that Dr. Turki al Hamad’s books have all been banned, but the truth of the matter is that the publishing house that publishes his work did not bring his books to the fair. Therefore, this rumour is false.”
    Despite that the Ministry immediately reacted by denying the successive rumours about the fair, they continued to spread. There are two possible sources of the rumours; the owners of publishing houses who use rumours to market a specific book, and internet websites that contribute to spreading false news about the book fair.

    Can anyone think of more examples of Facebook playing a role in official politics or opposition movements in the region?

    Go to Source

    "… at some point Americans will over-reach all over again someplace else…"

    March 8th, 2010 Comments off
    1898 US Political Cartoon. U.S. President William McKinley is shown holding the Philippines, depicted as a savage child, as the world looks on. The implied options for McKinley are to keep the Philippines, or give it back to Spain, which the cartoon compares to throwing a child off a cliff.

    Eurasia/ here

    In October 1942 leaflets appeared in Egypt. The occasion was the British Eighth Army victory over Rommel’s Afrika Korps at El Alamein, which at last made the Allies confident they could drive the Axis out of the Middle East. Moreover, the first American observers had arrived in North Africa in preparation for Operation Torch, the invasion of Morocco and Algeria scheduled for the following month. The leaflets, printed in Arabic and signed by President Roosevelt. proclaimed:


    “… Behold. We the American Holy Warriors have arrived. We have come here to fight the great Jihad of Freedom…. Assemble along the highways to welcome your brothers. We have come to set you free. Speak with our fighting men and you will find them pleasing to the eye and gladdening to the heart. We are not as some other Christians whom ye have known, and who trample you under foot. Our soldiers consider you as their brothers, for we have been reared in the way of free men. Our soldiers have been told about your country and about their Moslem brothers and they will treat you with respect and with a friendly spirit in the eyes of God…”[1]

    We may forgive such condescending propaganda on the grounds that Arabs, Persians, and other Muslims were hardly the focus of U.S. geopolitics then that they are today. …….But not until 1979, when Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called the Islamic Crescent an Arc of Crisis, did the Middle East take center stage. By that time all the major U.S. foreign policy traditions were already in place.
    It is my assigned task to provide the overarching context of American foreign relations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My most telling message is that the strategies and methodologies—the ends and means of America as a world power—were all contrived to surmount crises and challenges elsewhere in the world. They had no initial relevance to Islamic cultures or Middle East geography, but had somehow to be applied to Middle Eastern policies once they had pushed themselves onto the American foreign policy agenda. That is why I shall have nothing more to say on the Middle East until the very end……


    [Conclusion:] Taking the second question first, the answer is not yet, because of my criteria for a tradition, and probably not at all, since Operation Iraqi Freedom may turn out to be a one-shot deal. Most telling, preemption is not new at all if we are at war. Since the seventeenth century at least, almost the whole world has understood a state of war to mean the declaration of hostilities between two or more sovereign states. After World War II, however, that clear definition began to break down.

    The U.S. itself has played a major role in that breakdown, for not since 1941 has the U.S. Congress declared war against anyone. Korea was called a police action, engaged in with approval by the UN. Vietnam was called a conflict, engaged in on the dubious grounds of the Congressional Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti were likewise executive police actions launched in the name, not of U.S. security, but universal human rights. Even the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were not preceded by declarations of war, although they clearly involved U.S. security as well as human rights. Does the existence of transnational, non-state terrorist movements imply that the U.S. and its allies are in a permanent state of something like warfare against people who may be lurking in every country on earth? If so, can the U.S. or any other government claim the right to intervene anywhere according to their traditional right of self-defense? Perhaps a major theme of twenty-first century international relations will be a great global debate over the redefinition of war itself.

    Whether the Bush policies were a radical departure from our traditions is also a complicated issue. I believe the Bush Doctrine is rooted to a surprising degree in American traditions. Terrorism against the U.S. homeland is surely a devastating assault against our Exceptionalism, our Unity, Independence, and Liberty at Home, our Freedom to pursue our American Dream. If the Boston Massacre and Britain’s Intolerable Acts demanded an American Declaration of Independence, certainly 9/11 did. The War on Terror as waged by Bush also echoed some themes of Progressive Imperialism and Containment, and it brought to a deafening crescendo the theme of Global Meliorism. The Iraqi occupation has been called Wilsonianism with Guns. It is really Global Meliorism with Guns, which, to me, is the most persuasive analogy between Iraq and Vietnam, and therefore the most troubling as well.

    How the Iraqi crusade comes out will be of surpassing importance for the short-range future of American statecraft and the place of the U.S. in the world. State-building, much less democratization, in Iraq and even more in Afghanistan is a fantastic proposition. But if I am wrong, then Bush’s stock may rise in decades to come as Truman’s did, the lessons of 2003-06 will be forgotten, and at some point Americans will over-reach all over again someplace else. Alas, failing to reckon with our own history and those of the countries we presume to invade and redeem is also a venerable U.S. tradition.”

    Go to Source

    Political culture and Anthony Shadid

    March 7th, 2010 Comments off

    Under American charge, an indisputable political culture has risen along the banks of the Tigris River, unparalleled in the rest of the Arab world.” I was puzzled to read this sentence in the article by Shadid this morning. I dont know what he means by it but it is clear that he is misusing the term “political culture”–or worse, “indisputable political culture”–. I think he means a vibrant political culture and not a political culture per se. If he is talking about political culture, there is political culture everywhere including in closed or oppressive political systems. He may want to read Robert C Tucker’s writings on the political culture of the Soviet Union under communism. So political culture exists in Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and everywhere else in the Middle East. As for “indisputable political culture”, that does not make sense at all. What does he mean? there is disputable political cultures? If he means a vibrant or dynamic political culture, it exists as he well knows also in Beirut and to a lesser degree in other places although its expressions are repressed by the state like in Egypt. But the Iraqi political culture is controlled and shaped and managed and moulded by a variety of anti-democratic factors: the American occupation which decides what is acceptable political speech and action and what is not; a religious hierarchy that decides what is permissible and what is prohibited, politically and socially; and there are also the various segmentations that were reinforced by the occupation. And what does “under American charge” mean? In fact, the Iraqi political culture would be far more vibrant and less divisive and less obscurantist and religious laden, without any “American charge.”

    Go to Source

    Morocco Has a Prohibition Law?

    February 19th, 2010 Comments off

    Okay, this AFP report surprised me. It appears that Morocco has a law dating from a Royal Decree in 1967 forbidding the sale of alcohol to Moroccan Muslims. Now I haven’t been in Morocco in years, but I do recall spending time 20 or more years ago (but long since 1967) in bars where the entire clientele, except me, was native Arabic-speaking. So either Morocco’s Jewish population (which indeed is one of the larger still remaining in the Arab world) is a lot bigger than I realized, or there’s a big Arabic-speaking Christian minority that has been missed by the ethnographers, or (as the article notes), the decree is honored entirely in the breach.

    Morocco has a domestic wine industry and also a flourishing beer industry, (despite an unfortunate tendency, like other Maghreb states, to define proper-tasting beer the way French person might). The AFP report quotes Islamists who want to enforce the Royal Decree and secularists who want to repeal it.

    I wonder what the King thinks? I seem to recall some European press coverage when he was Heir Apparent . . . nah, I won’t go there.


    Go to Source

    Informal W.Sahara session to kick off in U.S.

    February 10th, 2010 Comments off

    Morocco, Polisario Front to start informal U.N.-sponsored talks on disputed Western Sahara.
    Go to Source

    Links for Feb 5-6 2010

    February 6th, 2010 Comments off



    Go to Source