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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Morocco: Current Issues

Carol Migdalovitz
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The United States government views Morocco as a moderate Arab regime, an ally against terrorism, and a free trade partner. King Mohammed VI retains supreme power but has taken incremental liberalizing steps. Since 9/11, Moroccan expatriates have been implicated in international terrorism, and Morocco has suffered terror attacks. Morocco takes a proactive approach to countering terror, but some of its measures may be setting back progress in human rights. Morocco's foreign policy focuses largely on Europe, particularly France and Spain, and the United States. In the Middle East, it supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has severed diplomatic relations with Iran for bilateral reasons.

The Moroccan royal dynasty has ruled the country since 1649. The reigning king, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne in 1999. He is committed to building a democracy, but he remains the preeminent state authority. The king chairs the Council of State that endorses all legislation before it goes to parliament, appoints the prime minister and ministers of foreign affairs, interior, defense, and Islamic Affairs, and approves other ministers. He sets the agenda of parliament in an annual Speech from the Throne, dissolves parliament, calls elections, and rules by decree. The king also has a "shadow government" of royal advisors and is head of the military. Reforms depend on the king's will, and he has undertaken several hallmark liberalizing initiatives. The king also is said to be tied to significant economic enterprises in the country.

See also CRS Report RS21464, Morocco-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, by Raymond J. Ahearn and CRS Report RS20962, Western Sahara: Status of Settlement Efforts, by Carol Migdalovitz.

Date of Report: February 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RS21579
Price: $29.95

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