Following Côte d’Ivoire in June and Comoros in Dec, Gambia, Guinea, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe opened consulates to Morocco in Dakhla and Laayoune in Western Sahara in Jan, thereby recognising Morocco’s claims over disputed territory. Parliament 22 Jan passed two laws integrating waters off coast of Western Sahara into its maritime territory.
Islamism, terrorism, reform: the triangle formed by these three concepts and the complex and changeable realities to which they refer is at the centre of political debate in and about North Africa today.
Morocco has been very successful at driving deep underground any major al-Qaeda or Isis group. Moroccan jihadis have largely gone to fight abroad, rather than stay at home.
What’s astounding is that an attack like [the one in Barcelona] hasn’t taken place inside Morocco.
The focus in the last few months has been on Morocco’s entry into the African Union…and now there’s a little urgency in trying to get a government back on its feet.
[The western Sahara issue] is the No. 1 strategic priority at the end of the day for Morocco. It dominates everything in Morocco’s diplomacy.
The [Justice and Development Party in Morocco] is in a less of a strong position than it was in 2011 and the palace has more cards to push for its dilution.
Morocco wants to become the intersection point between the West and West Africa.
Refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, have long been run by the Polisario movement, which seeks an independent state in Western Sahara, also claimed by Morocco. But a new generation of Sahrawi refugees is growing fractious as aid dwindles and diplomatic efforts fail to deliver a settlement.